11/22/2011

Lieutenant Governor David Onley delivered the Speech from the Throne in the legislature today, detailing the provincial government’s vision and priorities for the new legislative session.

The Throne Speech comes one day before Finance Minister Dwight Duncan is to deliver his Fall Economic Statement on the government’s fiscal situation and Ontario’s economy.

Municipal governments in Ontario will note the province’s commitment to AMO’s key priority of continued uploading of social services costs from the municipal tax base, continued transit project funding and infrastructure investments. Already announced improvements to electricity transmission, home renovation support for seniors and home care services were also featured. The government will introduce a Great Lakes Protection Act in this legislative session which could have implications for municipalities.

In the Speech, Mr. Onley said the government of Ontario would pursue: a balanced budget plan by the 2017-18 fiscal year; protecting health and education services for Ontarians; and reducing the public service by five per cent by March 2012 and a further two per cent by 2014. The government is also pursuing policies it believes will enhance economic development and job creation.

The government is anticipating delivery of a report on public services by economist Don Drummond in the new year. The Drummond report is expected to incOntario Throne Speech – Continued Uploadinglude recommendations to reduce the growth of public expenditures and reform service delivery, potentially including alternate delivery of government services. While it is uncertain at this point how this will be achieved, the Throne Speech noted several principles that will guide the government through reform. These are:

  • protecting health and education while rejecting across-the-board service cuts, tax increases and private health care;
  • reforms must improve quality of service and increase efficiency; and
  • reforms that jeopardize the Ontario economy will not be pursued. 

Previously, the Finance Minister has stated that each dollar of increased spending must be offset by at least an equivalent reduction in the government’s expenditures.

During the upcoming legislative session, AMO is looking forward to working with the government and all members of the legislature to implement changes that improve our communities. The Association is anticipating working with the government on our 12 priorities for municipal governments, especially those the Premier committed to at AMO’s annual conference in London. AMO awaits tomorrow’s Fall Economic Statement that should contain additional details regarding the government’s priorities and will communicate any issues of significance raised to municipalities.