Remarks By Dalton McGuinty, Premier Of Ontario On MPPs' Pay Freeze Statement to the Legislative Assembly
Check Against Delivery
Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to a very important bill I introduced a few moments ago in the Legislature.
This bill is about leading by example.
It's about taking responsible action.
Most of all, it's about doing the right thing.
This bill, if passed, would freeze MPPs' pay from the date of the last election, October 2, 2003, until April 1, 2005.
Let me tell you what this bill is intended to do -- and what it is not intended to do.
The intention of this bill is to demonstrate that we, as members of this Legislature, understand the context in which we lead.
Members will know that this government inherited a deficit of $5.6 billion, plus additional risks of $2.2 billion for things such as hospital and children's aid society deficits.
As I have said in the past, this means we must all temper our requests of the public purse -- and the hard-working Ontarians who finance that purse.
We did not create this context. Still, it is in this context that we must govern our province. And it is in this context that we must govern ourselves.
I know government members support this bill, following a discussion yesterday that, I can say, would have made Ontarians very proud.
We are urging all members of this Legislature to support the passage of this bill.
This bill is our way, as legislators, of recognizing the fiscal reality facing Ontario.
There are some things that it is not.
It is not a signal that we are forevermore removing from the Integrity Commissioner the difficult task of setting MPPs' pay.
We appreciate the Commissioner's work on this matter, but at this time, in this context, we have a responsibility as legislators.
This bill is not a signal that we intend to legislate wage settlements for our partners. We do not. We respect the collective bargaining process.
And it is not in any way intended to undervalue the work of MPPs.
Just the opposite is true, Mr. Speaker.
We believe it is a privilege and a high honour to serve the people of Ontario in this House.
But with that privilege and honour comes an obligation to lead -- and to lead by example.
Mr. Speaker, we simply cannot ask so many Ontarians to temper their requests, and give ourselves a raise of any size, at the same time.
In today's fiscal context, saying "no" to a pay hike for MPPs is simply the right thing to do.
And this bill, if passed, will do just that.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.