By George Christidis
Director, Government Affairs
Canadian Nuclear Association
On July 3, 2014, the recently re-elected Liberal government opened the 41st Ontario Parliamentary session with a new Speech From the Throne (SFT) titled ‘Building Ontario Up.’ Premier Wynne’s government outlined the priorities that will flow into the next provincial budget. The government has announced it will table this budget on July 14, 2014.
The key messages in the SFT reaffirm the key elements of the pre-election budget that triggered the last provincial election. Premier Wynne has publicly stated that the Ontario government will be re-tabling the previous budget which formed the basis of the provincial Liberal election platform. This included a commitment for strategic investment to create jobs and opportunities while eliminating the debt by 2018. External factors such as the provincial credit rating and public service union negotiations will be important factors to monitor in future government initiatives and policies.
Key messages in the SFT included:
- The building of new university campuses to meet enrollment demands
- The expansion of the Youth Jobs Strategy to help connect young people to jobs
- A 10-year $29 billion investment in transportation infrastructure, with $15 billion dedicated to the Greater Toronto – Hamilton region
- A predictable, stable corporate tax rate
- Participation in trade missions to create access and new markets for Ontario products and attract investment
- The elimination of the deficit in three years
- An increase in income taxes for the top 2% of income earners, and no increase in the HST or gas tax
- No additional money for compensation
- Actions to get returns from Crown assets
Natural Resource Development
- The establishment of a Ring of Fire development corporation within 60 days and the commitment of $1 billion for infrastructure to support development, as well as a search for federal participation (outside the New Building Canada Fund)
Energy and the Environment
- The appointment of the new Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to work on adaptation measures
- The development of a Canadian Energy Strategy in conjunction with other provinces
- The desire to export knowledge and products associated with renewables and energy innovation in order to take advantage of opportunities created by climate change initiatives in other provinces and other countries around the world
- The introduction of a poverty reduction strategy
- The introduction of legislation to increase minimum wages and link future increases to the rate of inflation
The House is adjourned until Monday, July 7, 2014.
On July 14, 2014, the budget that was originally tabled on May 1, 2014, will be re-introduced.