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Listening, Leading And Making Responsible Choices

Government Addresses Ontarians’ Priorities Confirmed By Independent Report

Office of the Premier

QUEEN'S PARK -- The McGuinty government is listening to the advice of Ontarians as it prepares a spring Budget that will deliver real, positive results in health care and education -- the public services that matter most to Ontarians.

"These remain our top priorities because they are Ontarians' top priorities," McGuinty said.

"Ontarians are telling us they want a balanced approach. They want us to improve these core services, and to balance the budget over time, rather than jeopardize those services."

McGuinty was responding to the release of the results of a public consultation conducted by Canadian Policy Research Networks, an independent, not-for-profit organization. It held daylong dialogues with more than 300 Ontarians, selected at random, from all walks of life.

The participants were asked to give the government their best advice in the wake of the news that the Province's fiscal challenge -- a $5.6 billion deficit plus $2.2 billion in additional risks -- is much larger than anyone had anticipated.

According to the CPRN's independent report, the participants recognized the need to raise revenues and find savings, to conserve our natural resources and to improve the delivery of core programs such as health care and education.

They said they're willing to do their share and pay their share, as long as government is using public funds efficiently and wisely, and the most vulnerable Ontarians are protected.

They urged the government to balance the budget over the course of its mandate, rather than risk further damage to our schools and hospitals.

In a statement in the Legislature, McGuinty thanked the participants in the CPRN process and the thousands of Ontarians who have given the government their best advice in town halls, on the web and via a toll-free telephone number.

"The magnitude of the fiscal deficit, unexpected though it might have been to Ontarians, is a real challenge, and we have to deal with it," McGuinty said.

"Obviously, this will have some impact on our plans. But as we have made clear in recent days, and as we will make clear in the Budget, our commitment to health care and education is unwavering," he said.

"Ontarians are telling us they will accept difficult choices, if those choices are made for the right reasons: to improve the services they care about the most, while protecting those who need help the most. They have confirmed our belief that Ontarians will always respond with candour, commitment, caring -- and intelligence."

The Budget will be released on May 18.


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