2015 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review
Chapter IV: Together towards a Stronger Ontario and a Stronger Canada

The challenges facing the federation show the need for a new collaborative approach to federalism. Ontario and the federal government share common goals and values, and the Province is ready to make progress on shared priorities, such as building infrastructure, improving retirement security, tackling climate change, and creating economic growth and jobs, among others. Working with provincial, territorial and Aboriginal partners, Ontario has long embraced a collaborative approach and has continued to take action to enhance quality of life, prosperity and competitiveness.

The Next Chapter in Intergovernmental Relations

The challenges facing the federation in the 21st century underscore the need for a new period of collaboration among Canada’s governments. Uncertain and uneven global economic growth, growing international competition, the dangers of climate change, and the far-reaching impacts of an aging population will require constructive partnerships and forward-looking actions.

Such challenges cannot, and should not, be tackled by one order of government alone — in the Canadian system, the best solutions result from governments working together. Ontarians are ready for a new collaborative approach to federalism in Canada, driven by a set of shared values. Working on many fronts with the federal government, provinces, territories and Aboriginal partners, Ontario is taking the lead to find forward-looking solutions to meet the challenges collectively faced by Canadians.

Forward-Looking Priorities for Ontarians and Canadians

Looking forward, Ontario will work with the federal government on common goals to build up Ontario and Canada.

Canadian Infrastructure Partnership

Governments should work together to collectively invest at a level that will optimize economic growth. The Province has called for a national infrastructure investment target, for example, at five per cent of national gross domestic product (GDP). Ontario looks forward to the realization of the federal government’s commitment to predictable and long-term funding for infrastructure. This would complement Ontario’s infrastructure investments that have placed the country on the path to long-term prosperity, including commitments in the Ring of Fire region.

Retirement Income Security

The retirement savings challenge is an important issue for all Canadians. The Province is ready to work with a new federal partner to strengthen the retirement income system for Ontarians (see Chapter I, Section F: Strengthening Retirement Security).

A National Fight against Climate Change

Ontario is moving ahead, joining many forward-looking jurisdictions of the world through actions such as introducing a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and working to link Ontario’s carbon market with California’s and Quebec’s under the Western Climate Initiative (see Chapter I, Section G: Tackling Climate Change).

Ontario is ready to work closely with the new federal government on its stated commitment to put forward an ambitious and credible GHG emissions reduction target for Canada, and a plan to achieve it. The Province will look for opportunities for meaningful collaboration at the United Nations Climate Change Conference later this month in Paris.

Ontario also welcomes the new federal government’s focus on ensuring that climate resilience is factored into new infrastructure investments, and that it recognizes the importance of “green infrastructure” in helping not only in mitigating the impacts of climate change but also in maintaining the high quality of life that Ontarians enjoy.

Jobs and the Economy

Ontario is focused on supporting job creation by building an environment in which business can thrive. The federal government has stated its agreement with this approach, and the Province is ready to work with a federal partner to continue to build Ontario up.

International trade agreements can sharpen Ontario’s competitive edge and create jobs by making it easier for businesses to expand into new diversified markets. More specifically, Ontario is looking forward to working with the federal government in reviewing the details of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and analyzing its implications for Ontario businesses.

The current Labour Market Development Agreement (LMDA) with the federal government supports proven and effective training programs that help Canadians find work, but there is room for improvement. Broader LMDA client eligibility would allow more unemployed Canadians to receive the skills training they need, and increased funding for the LMDA, allocated fairly, would allow governments to better meet the needs of all of Canada’s unemployed workers.

Aboriginal Partners

Ontario is heartened by the federal government’s commitment to a renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples. The Province remains committed to working with Aboriginal communities in a spirit of collaboration and mutual respect. This has led to historic agreements such as the First Nations–Ontario Political Accord, which commits parties to work together on issues of mutual interest and set a path for further reconciliation. Ontario will work with the federal government as it acts on its promises to make measurable progress on Aboriginal education and clean drinking water, to move forward on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and to take action on missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls by calling a national inquiry.

Health Care

Ontario is making the investments necessary to improve and sustain health care services (see Chapter I, Section E: Towards a Fair Society). Federal support through the Canada Health Transfer is a key element of the health care system. Ontario looks forward to working with the federal government to ensure that support is adequate, that it responds to the needs of an aging population, and that it is sustainable over the long term.

Ontario is pleased that the federal government has committed to join the provincial and territorial initiative to negotiate lower pharmaceutical prices, reducing costs and making drugs more affordable. The Province also looks forward to a meaningful national conversation on enhancing access to prescription drugs for all Canadians.

In February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the federal law prohibiting physician-assisted dying. Ontario is committed to providing care with compassion and dignity and is leading a provincial–territorial expert advisory group on physician-assisted dying. As provinces and territories have the primary responsibility to provide health care, Ontario will look for opportunities to work with the federal government as it prepares its legislative response.

A true federal partner on health issues could help support investments in innovation and transformation of health care systems, in particular by building on Ontario’s investments in home care and mental health. Ontario looks forward to ongoing collaboration in this critical area for Ontarians and Canadians.

Refugees

Ontario is ready and willing to accept more refugees and help them settle in the province. The government has announced $10.5 million over three years in new funding to support the arrival and settlement of up to 10,000 refugees in Ontario, and for international relief efforts. The Province is ready to work with a committed federal partner to welcome and resettle more refugees.

Other Ongoing Partnerships

Ontario has long embraced a collaborative approach with other provinces and territories and it continues to achieve results, particularly supporting economic growth and prosperity. For example, the Province continues to be a leading voice in the commitment to complete a comprehensive renewal and modernization of the Agreement on Internal Trade by March 2016. Additionally, Ontario and Quebec have agreed to a series of economic roundtables that will identify initiatives that would support business development, strengthen regional economic growth and job creation, and facilitate action on issues related to investment and the environment.