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A Historic New Course For Ontario: 58 Days Of Real, Positive Change

Archived Backgrounder

A Historic New Course For Ontario: 58 Days Of Real, Positive Change

Office of the Premier

After just 58 days in office, the McGuinty government has set a historic new course for Ontario. Ontarians chose real, positive change on October 2nd, and that is what the new government is delivering.

Tackling the Tory Deficit, Protecting Public Services

To tackle the $5.6 billion Tory deficit, and protect important public services, the government has acted to:

  • Give people the straight goods on the province's finances in a report from former Provincial Auditor Erik Peters, and in this week's economic update.

  • End the previous government's irresponsible tax measures including those aimed at private schools, corporations and seniors, and raise tobacco taxes, as promised, generating savings of $795 million in 2003-2004, $2.8 billion the following year and $3.7 billion in 2005-2006.

  • Bring electricity prices more in line with the actual cost of power, encouraging conservation.

  • Impose a government-wide hiring freeze, with the only exception being public safety.

  • Impose restraint on discretionary spending.

  • Reduce spending on highly paid consultants.

  • Introduce legislation to eliminate the waste of taxpayers' dollars on partisan, self-promotional government advertising.

  • Introduce legislation to give the Provincial Auditor sweeping new powers to audit hospitals, school boards, universities, colleges and other transfer partners.

Making Public Education the Best Education

The government has strengthened public education by:

  • Eliminating the tax credit for private schools.

  • Providing $112 million to help school children who are struggling to learn to read, write and do math.

  • Restoring local democracy by turning control over school systems in Toronto, Ottawa and Hamilton back to the elected boards.

  • Calling for a moratorium on school closures.

  • Freezing post-secondary tuition.

The Health Care We Need

The government has protected and improved medicare by:

  • Introducing historic legislation to ban pay-your-way-to-the-front-of-the-line health care in Ontario.

  • Introducing legislation that enshrines accountability as a fundamental principle of medicare in Ontario.

  • Turning proposed P3 (public-private partnership) hospitals into publicly owned hospitals.

  • Starting work on a provincial Health Council to make the health care system accountable for results.

  • Releasing task force reports on mental health that the previous government hid.

  • Working on the national stage to support the creation of a national health council.

Building Strong Communities

To improve our environment, public health and our quality of life, the government has:

  • Increased the number of drinking water inspectors by 25 per cent as of early 2004.

  • Arranged to hire 61 more full-time and 57 part-time meat inspectors.

  • Proposed changes to the Planning Act to discourage urban sprawl.

  • Proposed a moratorium on zoning changes for lands that may be included in a new, permanent Golden Horseshoe greenbelt.

  • Put an end to the reckless raiding of our precious water supplies by placing a moratorium on the issuing of new or expanded water-taking permits, while it reviews Ontario's groundwater supplies.

Strengthening Democracy

To strengthen our democracy, the government has:

  • Introduced legislation to require Cabinet ministers to attend two-thirds of Question Periods in the Legislature, or face fines.

  • Decided to give every MPP a seat on the powerful cabinet committees that help set government policy.

  • Made government more accountable by introducing legislation to ban partisan, self-promotional government advertising.

  • Set up a new secretariat for democratic renewal.

As well, a public inquiry has been established concerning the tragic events at Ipperwash.

Cleaning Up the Hydro Mess

The government has tackled the mess at Ontario Power Generation (OPG) by:

  • Exposing serious mismanagement, such as the multi billion-dollar cost overrun on the Pickering "A"; project and falling incomes at OPG .

  • Appointing a blue-ribbon panel on how to deal with the future of OPG.

  • Appointing a new board and asking them to immediately undertake a full audit of the corporation.

Protecting Workers and Consumers

The government has protected workers and consumers by:

  • Raising the minimum wage for the first time in nearly nine years.

  • Freezing applications for new rate hikes and introducing legislation to freeze auto insurance rates.

A New Era in Federal-Provincial-Municipal Relations

The McGuinty government has ushered in a new, more constructive era in federal-provincial relations by negotiating agreements with the federal government to:

  • Provide Ontario with an additional $771 million for health care.

  • Obtain $330 million in compensation for the impact of SARS.

  • Implement a new national farm income stabilization program.

  • Secure $168 million in federal funding for 10 Ontario highway improvement projects.

The McGuinty government has also launched discussions with the province's municipal leaders on a new deal for cities, including a historic federal-provincial-municipal Greater Toronto Area summit.