A few months ago, our Government for the People shared a new vision for Ontario. The vision was clear — put more money back in people’s pockets, lower hydro bills, create and protect jobs, cut hospital wait times, and restore people’s trust in the institutions that were supposed to serve them and not the other way around. It is a government that would keep its promises and work hard to make life more affordable for the people of Ontario.
Ours is a government that holds true to its values. Those values include the belief that hard work should be rewarded, that taxpayers should be respected, and that the role of government is to help those who need it most and to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.
Our plan envisions a prosperous Ontario, an Ontario that is once again the economic engine of the federation. The government will create economic opportunities for all by setting up the right conditions for entrepreneurs to start a business, grow a business, and create jobs right here at home. It will help businesses of all sizes thrive by lowering taxes, reducing red tape, and increasing choice for consumers.
Our seniors built this country, and our government believes they should be able to count on public services to be there for them as they grow older. Our government believes our men and women in uniform on the front lines should be treated with respect, while ensuring law-abiding individuals and families are protected from violent crime, including drug, gun and gang-related violence.
Above all, our government believes that balancing the budget and reducing Ontario’s debt burden is not only a fiscal imperative, it is a moral imperative. The government owes it to future generations to ensure vital services, such as our schools and hospitals, are there for them down the road.
During prosperous times, the government should shore up its finances, so that it is better prepared to weather shocks to the system such as recessions or financial crises. Sadly, for too long, the previous government’s legacy of reckless spending has left Ontario extremely vulnerable to future shocks. Sound financial management enables the government to provide more funding for key services and programs instead of paying interest on debt. This will help its citizens during tough economic times.
A government that puts its fiscal house in order is a government that is truly working for the people today and tomorrow.
Ontario’s Plan for the People
Restoring Trust, Transparency and Accountability
Rebuilding trust between the people and their government is a top priority, starting with the Province’s books. Through the work of the Independent Financial Commission of Inquiry and the line-by-line review of Ontario’s books, the people of Ontario now know the true state of the Province’s finances. The Province inherited a $15 billion deficit and over a third of a trillion dollars in public debt from the previous government. Immediate action is required to mitigate the negative consequences of the previous government’s reckless spending on policies and programs we could not afford.
Our government is adopting a new direction in its management of the Province’s finances that puts the taxpayer at the centre of all decision-making processes. It will restore the people’s confidence in government by achieving fiscal balance, pursuing a debt reduction strategy, and strengthening fiscal transparency and accountability measures. It will reinvent the way government operates and delivers services to the people to ensure value for money and outcomes. It will also conduct an ongoing review of government agencies, put in place controls on discretionary spending in the public service, and freeze executive compensation in the broader public sector. Our government will also fight to ensure Ontario taxpayers receive fair and adequate funding from the federal government.
Making Ontario Open for Business
Our government made a core commitment to individuals, families and businesses in Ontario to create and protect jobs. It will create an environment across the province that will help reduce costs for businesses, strengthen their ability to invest and grow, and stimulate job creation.
Making Ontario open for business starts with our Open for Business Action Plan, which would cut job-killing red tape and would repeal the harmful provisions in the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (Bill 148) that have hurt so many businesses. The Province understands the challenges of high electricity rates for businesses of all sizes and has already cancelled 758 unnecessary and expensive renewable energy contracts, and is launching a review of industrial electricity rates. To help apprentices, the government proposes to transform and modernize the apprenticeship system by updating the journeyperson-to-apprenticeship ratio and winding down the Ontario College of Trades. Our government will work to expand safe, responsible sales of cannabis and alcohol through private retail in Ontario in order to provide consumers with more choice, while acting decisively to protect children and youth, undermine the illegal cannabis market, and keep our roads and highways safe.
Our support for rural and Northern communities in Ontario is unwavering. The government will work with the private sector to expand natural gas and broadband networks to more communities, and we will stand up to protect farmers and farm jobs in our supply-managed agricultural sectors in the wake of the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Resource revenue sharing in the development of natural resources will allow a win-win situation for Northern communities and businesses. Our Provincial forestry strategy has already attracted historic investments in Northern Ontario, and the government will move forward with a new approach to unlock the vast potential of the Ring of Fire.
Respecting Consumers and Families
Our Government for the People is a government working for you and your family. Your hard-earned tax dollars will be respected by the government, and it will ensure that money is being prioritized for the services you rely on every day.
It will respect patients by cutting hospital wait times and ending hallway health care with more long-term care beds and a $1.9 billion investment in mental health and addictions services over the next decade, matching the federal government commitment.
It will respect drivers by bringing them relief at the gas pumps, freezing drivers’ fees, and scrapping the outdated Drive Clean program for passenger and light-duty vehicles.
It will respect workers by providing an income tax credit known as the Low-income Individuals and Families Tax (LIFT) Credit that will benefit low-income individuals and families, including those who earn minimum wage.
It will respect homeowners and renters by protecting rent control and enabling new partnerships with municipalities and the private sector to build more supply to address housing affordability.
It will respect ratepayers by lowering the electricity bills of residential, farm and small business customers by 12 per cent.
It will respect parents and students by consulting them on what should be taught in schools, ensuring that students learn the fundamentals to succeed in life, and by upholding free speech on college and university campuses.
It will respect victims by enforcing the law, protecting law-abiding individuals and families from drug, gun and gang-related violence, and investing in the right tools and equipment to help our men and women in uniform fight violent crime.
It will respect veterans by honouring the sacrifice of those who fought in the war in Afghanistan with a new memorial and by proposing to exempt Royal Canadian Legion branches in our communities from property taxes.
The previous government’s reckless spending and mismanagement left an unprecedented fiscal burden on the shoulders of all individuals, families and businesses in Ontario.
The fiscal hole is deep. The road ahead is not an easy one, and it will require difficult decisions.
Everyone in Ontario will be required to make sacrifices, without exception.
However, this is also an opportunity to embrace reform and transform how government serves the people.
People must all come together now more than ever to work towards solutions.
During the short time our government has been in office, it has started making real progress. Our path forward is clear, and that is why it is important to maintain our resolve to pursue fiscal discipline and, ultimately, restore our books to balance. It is for the betterment of the province, and more importantly, for all those families and individuals who call Ontario home.
The government must never forget who it is working for — the people of Ontario.
Original signed by
The Honourable Victor Fedeli
Minister of Finance