Remarks By Dalton McGuinty, Premier Of Ontario On Real, Positive Change Gains Momentum Statement to the Legislative Assembly
Check Against Delivery
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
It's my pleasure to welcome all members back to this House.
With each new session, we're given the honour and the privilege of serving the people of Ontario.
Our government is committed to working together to build a stronger province with a higher quality of life for all.
Last fall, we were elected to deliver real, positive change.
Soon after taking office, we took action on our commitments by introducing a progressive legislative agenda in this House.
We stopped the previous government's irresponsible tax giveaways to corporations and private schools.
We passed legislation to ensure responsible electricity pricing. The rate freeze -- the one that cost taxpayers $862 million -- is about to be lifted.
During the last session, we introduced several other pieces of legislation that are still before this House.
If passed, they will help continue our agenda for real, positive change in a number of important areas.
We introduced the Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act.
It would ban pay-your-way-to-the-front-of-the-line health care.
It would improve accountability.
During this session, we'll continue seeking advice on ways to improve this bill as it moves through the House.
We've also introduced legislation to ensure patient privacy is protected.
To help protect greenspace and build clean, vibrant communities, we introduced legislation that would discourage urban sprawl.
We also introduced a bill that would give municipalities more control over their own growth.
Mr. Speaker, our government also acted on its commitment to ensure greater accountability across the broader public sector.
We introduced legislation that would give the Provincial Auditor sweeping new powers to perform value-for-money audits of hospitals, school boards, universities, colleges and other transfer partners.
Our legislation would also open Crown-controlled corporations -- like OPG and Hydro One -- to review by the Provincial Auditor. We've already taken action to open OPG, Hydro One and their subsidiaries to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act.
Our government will continue moving forward with the legislation we introduced that would eliminate the waste of taxpayers' dollars on partisan, self-promotional government advertising.
Since taking office, we've put a stop to this practice. This legislation would ensure this waste of taxpayer dollars never happens again.
We've also introduced legislation that would require Cabinet ministers to attend two-thirds of Question Periods in the Legislature.
I can assure this House that our Cabinet is ready to meet this commitment.
During this session, our government will work with members to move forward on these important initiatives.
And we'll do so in a manner that respects this institution and the people it serves.
We'll continue to consult with people -- inside and outside this House -- to improve legislation.
But Mr. Speaker, our work is just beginning.
Our agenda for real, positive change is gaining momentum.
Our government is preparing legislation that would, if passed, provide up to eight weeks of job-protected leave for those taking care of seriously ill family members.
We're going to address the issue of school bus safety.
We must do everything possible to ensure that students arrive safe. It's a fundamental trust that parents place in our public education system. We will introduce legislation to help meet this commitment.
Our government will also make important announcements designed to keep our economy strong and competitive. Because when our businesses grow and prosper, it means jobs and opportunity for families throughout the province.
Mr. Speaker, we're committed to acting on the priorities we ran on and that Ontarians voted for.
Over the past several months, we've been consulting with Ontarians to hear about the priorities and results they expect from government.
We were open and honest about the fiscal challenges facing our province -- a $5.6 billion dollar deficit and another $2.2 billion in risks.
They gave their best advice on how we can deliver the change Ontario needs to be strong, healthy and prosperous.
When we asked people about meeting the goal of healthy Ontarians in a healthy Ontario, they shared their experiences and their expectations.
When we asked for ideas on better student achievement, we heard from people who care deeply about excellence in public education.
When we asked about improving the quality of life in Ontario, people spoke passionately about the clean, safe communities they want.
When we asked about how Ontario could have better workers for better jobs in an innovative economy, they talked about making the most of Ontario's most precious resource -- its people.
When we asked about more active citizens contributing to a stronger democracy, one thing was clear: people want government to work better for them.
We're going to take action.
And we're going to deliver the real, positive change that Ontarians want and need.
We will use their ideas to help guide budget-making in this year and over the next four years.
We're seizing the opportunity to focus government resources on the priorities that matter most to Ontarians.
We will work with our partners to achieve real, measurable results.
The people of Ontario will see progress in education when they see:
- Higher test scores in literacy and numeracy
- Smaller classes in the early years
- Fewer students dropping out of high school
- More students going beyond high school -- to apprenticeship, university or college and
- More qualified new Canadians working in their chosen trades and professions.
In health care we'll achieve the results that Ontarians want and need. I'm talking about things like:
- Shorter waiting times for things like cardiac care, cancer care and hip replacements
- Improved access to care in the community -- outside of hospitals and other institutional settings and
- Healthier living -- with less obesity, less smoking and more physical activity.
Mr. Speaker, I recently attended one of the Budget Town Hall meetings held by our government. So have many of the members here today.
The people of Ontario understand the challenges facing our province.
They know that change is not going to happen on all fronts, all at once.
They're prepared to work with us to make progress on their most important priorities.
But they will look to government for leadership -- for a sense of common purpose.
That means, Mr. Speaker, that our ideas must be bold. Our minds must be open. And our resolve to make change happen must be strong.
This is the kind of leadership our government will provide -- during this session and over the next four years.
We can have an Ontario that knows prosperity and purpose ...
An Ontario that's competitive and compassionate ...
An Ontario that's the envy of the world ... with a quality of life that's second to none.