On Tuesday February 19, 2013, the Lieutenant Governor delivered
the government of Ontario's Speech from the Thorne setting out
the new Premier's priorities for the coming legislative
session. Highlights include:
Eliminating the deficit by 2017-18.
Introducing a balanced approach to balancing the budget,
allowing all political parties to work together to find
Establishing better accountability in the legislature.
Focusing on employment opportunities for Ontario's youth,
in partnership with education, labour and the private sector.
Ensuring municipalities and families have input on the location
of energy infrastructure in their communities, while continuing to
protect the environment and encourage conservation.
Ensuring a respectful partnership with labour leaders by
building a sustainable process for wage negotiation through
Continuing to improve Ontario's education and health care
In recent weeks the opposition parties have been outlining what
they would like to see as part of the government's agenda. The
NDP have been calling for a new program to address youth
employment, ending corporate tax incentives such as the HST input
credits, 15% reduction in auto insurance rates and increased
spending on home care. The Progressive Conservatives would like to
see a plan to reduce government spending and how the government
will reach a balanced budget.
The following bulletin provides a summary of the Speech from the
Throne that will be of interest to BLG's clients.
SUMMARY OF THE KEY POLICY PRIORITIES
Balancing the Budget By 2017
The government commits to restraining program spending to reduce
the debt-to-Gross Domestic Product ("GDP") ratio by
restricting overall spending increases to one per cent below GDP
growth until the ratio returns to its pre-recession level of 27 per
cent. The government will also continue to implement the
recommendations of the Drummond Report from early 2012 including
improving corporate tax compliance.
Economic Development and Jobs
The government signals that it will expand partnerships with
high schools, universities, colleges, Not-for Profit organizations
and business to create youth employment opportunities. The speech
also indicated the government will work with the opposition parties
to explore an increase in the Employer Health Care tax exemption
level for small business. It will expand access to capital by
adding $50 million to the $300 million venture capital fund.
The government signalled its support for smart grid technology
to facilitate conservation and energy efficiency. It also stated
that it would expand consultations with affected communities when
constructing energy facilities. The Throne Speech indicated the
governments support for a review of the decisions related to the
relocation of electrical power facilities.
The Speech from the Throne indicated that the government would
strengthen the rights of consumers in respect of door to door
sales, real estate transactions and smart phone contracts.
The government stated that it would expand home care in Ontario
as well as expand health promotion initiatives such as anti-smoking
and obesity programs. It will also move forward with expanding
access to mental health services and its "Seniors
Strategy" to respond to the needs of Ontario's aging
Public Transit and Infrastructure
The government indicated that it would advocate for a national
strategy on infrastructure and transit with other provinces and
territories as well as starting a discussion on the infrastructure
challenges facing Ontario's municipalities and the unique needs
of northern Ontario. One over aching goal will be to address the
gridlock in the Greater Toronto Area, and improving access to key
economic development opportunities such as the "ring of
fire" mining development in northern Ontario.
The government signalled it is serious about building a
sustainable model for wage negotiation that respects collective
bargaining and fair and transparent arbitration process.
The legislative session is now open and the opposition parties
will now formally debate the Speech from the Throne prior to voting
on its adoption. This will occur over the next several days. Since
the Speech from the Throne represents a confidence motion, if the
opposition vote it down, then the minority liberal government would
be forced from office and likely a general election would be
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