Remarks By Dalton McGuinty, Premier Of Ontario On Strengthening The Foundation For Change Statement to the Legislative Assembly
Check Against Delivery
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I rise to make a statement about Strengthening the Foundation for Change.
That is the title of the Throne Speech that was delivered by His Honour in this House.
And that is what we intend to do.
But as this is my first opportunity to speak in this session, I want to acknowledge a few groups and one individual.
The first, always first, is the people of Ontario.
I want to thank them for the privilege they have bestowed upon us.
To be asked to govern by Ontarians is a responsibility we take very seriously.
The second group I want to acknowledge is the members of this House.
To be sent here by your communities is an honour we should all cherish.
Congratulations to you all.
Finally, I congratulate our new Speaker.
I believe I speak for all members of the House -- and that may prove to be a rare occurrence, Mr. Speaker -- when I say how confident I am that you will do a tremendous job.
Our new government's job is to deliver real, positive change and strengthen the foundation for even more profound change in the future, and that is what our Throne Speech is all about.
Mr. Speaker, our new government believes strongly that we can have excellence for all in public education, with lower class sizes and higher student achievement.
We can deliver the health care we need with more nurses, family doctors and hospital beds.
We can grow strong communities that are safe, livable and clean.
We can change how government works so government works for the people of Ontario.
These are our commitments to the people of Ontario.
We are keeping them, Mr. Speaker.
Already we are delivering real, positive change.
We have acted to stop new applications for auto insurance rate hikes.
We have restored local democracy for our schools.
We have taken planned private hospitals and ensured they are publicly owned and publicly operated.
We have forged a new, constructive relationship with other governments.
Our positive approach has brought positive results on SARS funding, on health care funding, on highway construction.
Of course, Mr. Speaker, we have only just begun.
As the Throne Speech attests, we have an ambitious agenda ahead of us.
In education, we plan to tackle bullying, make our schools safer and introduce character education.
We will ask this House to debate and pass legislation to express our rock solid commitment to public education by cancelling the previous government's tax giveaway to private schools.
In health care, we plan to introduce more accountability for health care dollars, take steps to give the Medical Officer of Health greater independence and move to curb tobacco use among our young.
We will introduce legislation that shows our rock solid commitment to universal medicare.
Our legislation will, if passed, stop the previous government's creeping privatization of health care by making two-tier, pay-your-way-to-the-front-of-the-line health care illegal in Ontario.
To build a stronger economy and a stronger workforce, we will freeze tuition for two years, improve access to trades and professions, introduce legislation to end the previous government's legislated 60-hour workweek, and bring forward a plan to ensure stable and reliable electricity.
We will act, Mr. Speaker, to ban the waste of taxpayers' dollars on partisan political advertising.
To strengthen our communities, we plan a permanent greenbelt across the Golden Horseshoe, a ban on the disposal of untreated toxic sludge, protection of our drinking water and fresh water resources and measures to stop urban sprawl.
It is an ambitious agenda, Mr. Speaker -- because we are ambitious for the people of Ontario, and the people of Ontario are ambitious for their new government.
The people of Ontario understand, Mr. Speaker, as do we, that to keep the breadth of our commitments, we must keep one of our core commitments.
We must get the province's fiscal house in order.
We made that commitment, Mr. Speaker, because it is the foundation on which all of our commitments are based.
More importantly, Mr. Speaker, it is the foundation on which our schools and hospitals and communities operate.
These are the things that matter most to Ontarians, Mr. Speaker, because they strengthen their families and bolster their future.
We will keep that commitment, not simply because we understand the value of a dollar, but because we understand the values of Ontarians.
And we will do it in a way that is in keeping with their values -- not on the backs of the most vulnerable amongst us, but by drawing upon the strength of all of us, working together.
Ontarians are doing their job, Mr. Speaker.
Our economy is strong.
But, as Mr. Peters told us in his independent report, the budgetary position of the province is weak, weaker than anyone anticipated.
We didn't create the $5.6 billion Tory deficit, Mr. Speaker.
But we will eliminate it, working with Ontarians.
We must eliminate it because:
- It threatens the public services Ontarians have now
- It threatens all we want for Ontario
- And it's in the way of delivering all of the real, positive changes Ontarians chose on October 2nd.
We've got a job to do, Mr. Speaker, and we're going to do it -- in the right way, for the right reasons, for the best people -- the men, women and children of Ontario, whom we are all privileged to serve.
We will not paper over this problem with money we do not have.
We will not try to make it disappear with accounting tricks.
And we will never sit on our hands and do nothing.
What we will do in this session, what we will always do, is deliver real, positive change -- and strengthen the foundation for even more profound change in the future.
We will fulfil the mandate we all share: to make this province the envy of the world, once again.