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UPDATE: Ford thanks people of Ontario for majority government

Ontario PC leader Doug Ford reacts with his wife, Karla, left, after winning the Ontario Provincial election to become the new premier in Toronto, on Thursday, June 7, 2018.
Ontario PC leader Doug Ford reacts with his wife, Karla, left, after winning the Ontario Provincial election to become the new premier in Toronto, on Thursday, June 7, 2018. - The Canadian Press

TORONTO – Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford is thanking the people of Ontario for giving his party a majority government.

Speaking to supporters gathered at the Tory campaign headquarters, Ford says under his government, Ontario will enter a previously unseen period of economic prosperity.

Ford, whose favourite campaign slogan was “Help is on the way”, tells the cheering crowd “Help is here.”

He says “the party with the taxpayers' money is over.”

And he promises to work to win the support of those who did not vote for him.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has won her seat in the provincial election, but said she is stepping down.

She made the announcement in a speech to supporters gathered at the Liberal campaign headquarters.

Wynne acknowledged it's been a “difficult night” for her Liberals, who saw their party's presence in the legislature all but disappear.

RELATED: Wynne re-elected in her Don Valley West riding

Wynne admitted last weekend that her party would lose the election, but urged voters to elect enough Liberals to prevent the other parties from winning a majority government.

Liberal supporters react while watching the provincial election results during the election night party at York Mills Gallery in Toronto on Thursday, June 7, 2018.
Liberal supporters react while watching the provincial election results during the election night party at York Mills Gallery in Toronto on Thursday, June 7, 2018.

Wynne's low personal approval ratings helped drive the Liberals way down in the polls.

The Liberals, who have been in government for the past 15 years, could drop to single-digit seats in the legislature, losing official party status.

Wynne has declined to say whether she'll stay on as party leader, but many expect her to step down.

Many Liberal cabinet ministers have been defeated in the Ontario provincial election.

In Ottawa Centre, Attorney General Yasir Naqvi lost his seat, finishing second to New Democrat Joel Harden.

Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault, a New Democrat turned Liberal, lost to the NDP's Jamie West in the Sudbury riding.

Steven Del Duca, minister of economic development, lost his seat in the Vaughan-Woodbridge riding to Tory Michael Tibollo.

Christine Elliott, a three-time loser in bids to lead Ontario's Progressive Conservatives, unseated Liberal Environment Minister Chris Ballard in the Newmarket-Aurora riding.

And Treasury Board President Eleanor McMahon lost to Tory Jane McKenna in the Burlington riding.

The Canadian Press is projecting a Progressive Conservative majority government in Ontario.

It's a stunning victory for the party led by Ford, whose campaign was heavy on populist promises but light on fiscal details.

The New Democrats, who had been neck and neck with the Tories in several polls before the election, will form the Official Opposition.

The election has also marked a stunning collapse for the Liberals.

Ford positioned himself during the campaign as a defender of “the little guy,” promising to lower taxes, cut hydro rates and eliminate the province's cap-and-trade-system.

Ontario PC leader Doug Ford, right, casts his vote in Toronto, on Thursday, June 7, 2018.
Ontario PC leader Doug Ford, right, casts his vote in Toronto, on Thursday, June 7, 2018.

Ford won his riding in the west-Toronto suburb of Etobicoke North.

Ford was a city councillor for the area while his late brother Rob Ford was Toronto mayor, and the family has a long history in the community.

The 53-year-old politician was elected party leader in March after Patrick Brown stepped down amid sexual harassment allegations he denies.

Ford did not release a fully costed platform, prompting his rivals to warn of massive cuts to public services under a Tory government.

The last few days of Ford's campaign were dominated by news of a lawsuit against him from Rob Ford's widow alleging mismanagement of the family business.

Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner won his bid to become the first Green to hold a seat in the province's legislature.

Schreiner finished third in his riding in Guelph, Ont., during the last election, narrowly behind the Progressive Conservative candidate.

The race was thrown open for this election when the incumbent and prominent Liberal Liz Sandals announced she would not run again.

Andrea Horwath handily won in her Hamilton-Centre riding, which she has held since 2004.

The NDP leader has consistently polled as the most popular of the three party leaders vying to become the next premier of Ontario.

RELATED: Premier prize eludes Horwath

Her New Democrats saw a surge in the polls halfway through the campaign, triggering a wave of attacks from both the governing Liberals and the opposition Tories.

NDP Andrea Horwath supporters watch the provincial election results come in at the Convention Centre in Hamilton, Ont. on Thursday, June 7, 2018.
NDP Andrea Horwath supporters watch the provincial election results come in at the Convention Centre in Hamilton, Ont. on Thursday, June 7, 2018.

Ford repeatedly slammed Horwath's roster of candidates as radical and inexperienced.

Wynne also painted New Democrats as radical ideologues and urged left-leaning voters to stop Horwath from forming a majority government.

Horwath's campaign slogan was “Change for the better.”

Most of the polls have closed in Ontario and ballot counting has begun following a hotly contested race pitting Doug Ford's Progressive Conservatives against Andrea Horwath's New Democrats.

The governing Liberals will need at least eight seats to retain official party status.

The province used new technology in this election, and problems with some of the electronic vote tabulators caused delays in a few polling stations.

As a result, Elections Ontario has extended voting hours in seven locations.

About 9.8 million people were registered to vote today, and more than 768,000 voted in advance polls.

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