07/03/2014

Today in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Lieutenant Governor David C. Onley delivered the Speech from the Throne laying out Premier Kathleen Wynne’s priorities for government in the next legislative session.

In the Speech, the Lieutenant Governor noted that the government’s first priority was job creation and economic development and that it intended to re-introduce the 2014 Budget on July 14th after passage of the Throne Speech in the Legislature.

Government priorities of importance to municipalities are:

Infrastructure:

  • Reaffirmed $130 billion over ten years for public infrastructure investments including the $29 billion Moving Ontario Forward plan which prioritizes:
    • $15 billion for transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Areas (GTHA) including two-way, all day GO rail expansion and;
    • $14 billion for transportation including roads and bridges outside of the GTHA.
  • Consult with local governments and communities in setting priorities for these investments.
  • Creating a Ring of Fire Development Corporation to lead development of this area and $1 billion for transportation to access the Ring of Fire.
Economic and Financial Management:
  • Eliminating the deficit in three years. No increases in Harmonized Sales Tax or the Ontario Gas Tax are planned. However, the government did commit to an increase on higher wage earners in the province.
  • The President of Treasury Board will have responsibility for government spending, accountability, transparency, and labour relations within Ontario Public Service and Broader Public Sector.
  • A $2.5 billion Jobs and Prosperity Fund to invest in traditional and emerging industries and regions impacted by the global recession. Industries from agribusiness, advanced manufacturing, resources, tourism, media, and culture are expected to benefit.
Accountability and Transparency:
  • Will bring the Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act back to the House. This legislation extends the oversight of the Provincial Ombudsman to the municipal sector.
  • Noted the government would “engage with Ontarians to consider what it can do in the context of our labour and employment law regime to continue to protect workers while supporting business in today's modern economy”. The 2013 Throne Speech included language which committed the government to build a sustainable model of wage negotiation that is respectful of both collective bargaining and a fair, transparent process for interest arbitration in Ontario.
Accessibility, Social Services and Community Services:
  • Reiterated the commitment to make Ontario fully accessible by 2025 and will create a new Poverty Reduction Strategy, index the Ontario Child Benefit and minimum wage as well as expanding investments in housing and homelessness.
  • Focus on community health and wellness with the expansion of home and community care and the implementation of its Cycling Strategy to which the Budget committed $25 million.
Climate Change, Energy and Environment:
  • The new Ministry of Environment and Climate Change will be responsible for working across government to coordinate action to reduce greenhouse gases and renew work with communities on work to adapt to climate change impacts.
  • Work with other provinces and territories to create a Canadian Energy Strategy that recognizes the importance of climate change, renewable energy, and energy conservation.
AMO will continue to work with the government and all MPPs on municipal priorities and looks forward to engaging with the government.