Thank you, Howard, for that kind introduction.
And, I want to thank you all for welcoming me here to speak to you today. I’ll try to keep this short and sweet since I know we’re all waiting for lunch.
OSC Dialogue is an important forum.
The discussions taking place here today on capital market structure, issues in investor protection and securities enforcement are necessary ones.
We are determined to keep Toronto’s place as one of the global leaders in financial services …
To that end, we have a strategy to help make Toronto a leading hub for:
An overwhelming proportion of Canadian capital market activity occurs in Toronto.
Ontario is home to more than half of Canada’s securities industry, in terms of economic activity and number of jobs.
Employment in Ontario’s financial services sector grew in 2009, despite the global recession, and continues to grow in 2011.
I’m from Windsor – the OTHER big financial centre in Ontario.
I’m a big supporter of the auto sector.
And, as you know, the McGuinty government played a major role in supporting and protecting more than 400,000 jobs in Ontario that rely on a healthy automotive sector.
Ontario’s financial services sector employs more than 360,000 people.
In fact, the sector also supports another 300,000 people through the jobs that exist in businesses that support financial services.
The job numbers alone are reason for us to support Toronto’s position as a leading international financial centre.
Support for financial services means the creation of good jobs and attracting investment to Ontario.
The financial services sector is also important to Ontario, because of the capital and investment opportunities it provides to all other sectors of the province’s and indeed, Canada’s economy.
As a government, our goal is to maintain an environment that promotes fair and efficient capital markets.
That includes appropriate protection for investors …
It also ensures our companies can raise capital so that jobs are created and the economy continues to grow.
The recent interest in acquiring the TMX Group by the LSE Group and the Maple Group Acquisition Corporation is a testament to the soundness of Ontario’s financial services sector and the international prominence of The Toronto Stock Exchange.
Clearly, the TMX Group is a key component of Ontario’s financial sector.
We have an opportunity to build on this success and continue to promote Toronto as an international financial hub.
As the financial system becomes more globalized, sound securities regulation and strong enforcement are becoming even more critical.
Under Howard’s leadership, the OSC is devoting significant attention and resources to ensuring we build on our strong reputation for enforcement, investor protection and financial services leadership.
As many of you know, the OSC is implementing important elements of the G20 financial reforms, including developing and implementing a robust framework for regulating over-the-counter derivatives – the Canadian market for which is centred in Toronto – and strengthened oversight of credit rating agencies.
Our government continues to work with the OSC to modernize Ontario’s financial regulation to protect investors by strengthening requirements and adopting effective global practices to bolster the soundness and stability of financial markets.
We’re also working with the OSC and the Investor Education Fund to improve the financial literacy of young Ontarians.
We continue to garner global recognition as a safe place to invest.
Despite challenging global debt market conditions, domestic and international demand for Ontario’s debt remains strong.
Howard’s job – the role of the OSC – is to ensure the mechanics of the capital markets work smoothly.
My job as Finance Minister is to ensure the infrastructure of our capital markets is sound and can provide stability despite global economic uncertainty.
That job includes doing what I can to ensure Ontario’s economy is competitive.
A competitive economy creates jobs …
A competitive economy pays for the policies that touch people’s lives …
A competitive economy enables us to invest in the public services that matter most – our schools and hospitals.
It also helps us ensure that our roads and bridges are safe.
A sound financial foundation is critical to ensuring that Ontario continues to grow.
With global economic storm clouds on the horizon, challenges remain for Ontario.
Last week I updated Ontario’s second quarter economic accounts and noted that the province’s economy saw its real GDP decline after seven consecutive quarters of growth.
Virtually all of the private sector economists I’ve met with are confident that we will return to growth in the third quarter.
Yet, they all spoke about lower projections for growth than had been previously forecast.
In fact, over the last several months, we have seen forecasts lowered for economic growth around the world … and here at home.
For example, at the time of our March 2011 Budget, private sector forecasters, on average, projected that Ontario real GDP would grow by 2.6 per cent in 2011.
Being prudent, we based our budget on 2.4 per cent growth.
Private sector forecasts for Ontario real GDP growth in 2011 have since been reduced to an average of 2.3 per cent.
One area where there is consensus, is that the real challenge facing all governments will be declining revenues.
We will remain on target for our deficit figures this year.
Like any enterprise, we will need to make adjustments based on market conditions.
In the Budget last year, we established the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services.
The commission is chaired by well-known former TD Bank Chief Economist Don Drummond and is examining the way government delivers its services.
The commission’s recommendations will help inform the development of our 2012 Budget.
The principal challenge before us is to stay on target in eliminating the deficit and paying down debt.
We must do so while balancing the needs of people – protecting our schools and hospitals.
We must confront these challenges while avoiding the political stalemates we have seen south of the border.
When S&P downgraded the United States, it had less to do with the economy than it did with the fact that legislators there could not get their act together.
So, it will be important for all of us here in Ontario to work together to get us back to balance.
Over the last 20 years, all three parties – the NDP, the PCs and yes, the Liberals – have been in office while Ontario has accumulated debt.
We need to have meaningful conversations, with new ideas about how we are going to achieve a balanced budget and move Ontario forward …
And we must address what are real challenges in the world economy.
Ontario’s economy is affected by global events, be it uncertainty around European sovereign debt or a tsunami in Japan.
I look forward to the opportunity to work with my colleagues in all parties to address these challenges, and will have more to say about the details in my Fall Economic Statement later this month.
In order to meet today’s challenges, it’s important that Howard and I do our jobs to reinforce Toronto’s – and Ontario’s – position as a leading international financial centre by helping to maintain an environment that attracts new business and more high quality jobs.
With that, I want to once again thank OSC Chair Howard Weston for hosting this year’s Dialogue, and thank you all again for taking part.Thank you.