04/04/2006

Fiscal imbalance a priority.
The Governor-General Michaelle Jean delivered the Speech from the Throne, entitled “Turning a New Leaf”, to open the First Session of the Thirty-Ninth Parliament of Canada.  

The Speech from the Throne focused predominantly on the theme of a more accountable and transparent government through priorities aimed to “move Canada forward” and advance Canada’s interests in the world.  As a minority parliament, the Government committed to seeking shared goals and common ideas that will help Canadians build a stronger Canada. 

From a municipal perspective, AMO is encouraged by the government’s clear commitment to respond to concerns about the fiscal imbalance and approach to work to ensure fiscal arrangements in which all governments have access to the resources they need to meet their responsibilities.  AMO has been a strong advocate to see Ontario’s fiscal imbalance addressed as key to dealing with the $3.2 billion provincial-municipal fiscal imbalance. 

Other commitments highlighted concerning government programs and services include:

Key Commitments on the top Five Priorities:

  • Clean up Ottawa by introducing and passing the Federal Accountability Act to strengthen the rules and institutions that ensure transparency and accountability, ban institutional and large personal donations to political parties, and provide protection to whistle blowers
  • Lower taxes for all Canadians by cutting the GST initially by 1%, and then eventually by a further 1% to five per cent
  • Ensure safe communities by tackling gun, gang and drug crime by proposed changes to the Criminal Code to provide tougher sentences, and helping to prevent crime by putting more police on the street and improving the security of our borders
  • Give parents a $1,200 annual allowance for each child under six years, and help assist employment and not-for-profit community organizations to create new child care spaces
  • Work with the provinces and territories to establish patient wait times guarantee
AMO has written the Federal Minister of Finance, supporting priority discussions on the fiscal imbalance and fiscal arrangements across all governments, and is working with the Ontario Government to help move this issue forward.  AMO will look eagerly toward the pending Federal Budget to see how this issue will be addressed at that time.