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Remarks By Dalton McGuinty, Premier Of Ontario At The Multicultural Reception

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Remarks By Dalton McGuinty, Premier Of Ontario At The Multicultural Reception

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Office of the Premier

Welcome and good evening.

I know we had a little bit of a step backward over the weekend, but let's hope spring is here to stay.

I know spring is an important time for many of you ...

Many of you will celebrate Khalsa Day, Passover or Easter, to name just a few.

The long list of significant celebrations happening over the next few months speaks to the diversity of Ontario.

Nowhere is this better characterized than in this room tonight.

Here we have cultures, languages and religions from the four corners of the world.

Here we have a vibrant example of our tremendous diversity.

This diversity is the thread that binds our social fabric.

It gives us our character, our heart.

It also gives us a tremendous economic advantage.

Collectively, Ontario speaks every language, relates to every culture, understands every market.

This is a valuable resource that will make Ontario stronger in the global economy.

This is a valuable resource we must continue to tap into.

My government is committed to making sure that highly qualified, internationally trained tradespeople and professionals can work in their chosen field, here in their chosen province.

In January, we added more than $4 million to strengthen training programs to help these people get to work faster.

That brings current bridge funding investments to over $19 million.

We are also developing a public report card system.

Soon every industry in Ontario will have to report on what they're doing to reduce the barriers faced by internationally trained workers.

We're hopeful that we can reduce these barriers by working together with our regulatory partners.

Legislation is not our first option -- but can be considered if necessary.

We need these teachers, engineers, health care workers, accountants and doctors contributing to our workforce to make Ontario stronger.

We believe these steps will help people in your communities achieve the quality of life they envision.

And we are helping in other ways ...

We expanded the Job Connect program to help more internationally trained Ontarians access language assessments, job search support and employment placements.

We are working closely with our federal partners to develop both an immigration agreement and a labour market development agreement that will help new Canadians adjust and settle into their communities more quickly.

These agreements will not only help them enter the workforce but will provide valuable connections to language programs and other government and community resources.

We're also helping nurture Ontario's future workforce, our children.

We delivered $112 million to public schools across the province for programs like literacy, numeracy and English-as-a-second-language.

Helping our children succeed in their early years will ensure their success in the future.

Ontario's diversity, both socially and economically, must not be squandered.

It must be celebrated.

Ontarians embrace this diversity and draw on its strength.

And we've had to summon a little more of this strength lately.

In light of the recent rash of hate crimes, many people may have felt unwelcome, misunderstood or afraid.

Let me assure all of you, racism and the spread of hate will not be tolerated in this province.

In Ontario, we celebrate our differences.

And in Ontario, we thrive on our diversity.

And I want to thank each of you for the role you play in promoting this diversity.

All of you play important roles in your communities.

You keep your communities connected.

You are the connection to the past.

You tell the stories and traditions your communities hold dear.

You are the connection to the present.

You deliver images and news of homelands from around the world.

And you are the connection to the future.

You form the foundation and values for your children to continue.

You also keep your communities informed.

You give them a voice that is not always represented in the mainstream media and engage them in the political process.

This is something that's especially important to my government.

I am committed to working with all of you to ensure all Ontarians understand and have access to fundamental democratic principles.

And you keep your communities united and strong.

Building strong communities is also priority of my government.

And we've taken many positive steps in our first few months in office to ensure our communities stay strong.

We devoted $385 million in additional funding for hospitals across Ontario.

Together with the federal government and the City of Toronto, we invested $1 billion in the Toronto Transit Commission and then we topped that up with an additional $90 million to help avoid a fare increase.

We introduced a new provincial Rent Bank Program.

We're adding 2,300 new affordable housing units in Ontario.

And we raised the minimum wage for the first time in nine years.

We are providing real, positive change for Ontarians.

But we have only just begun.

There is still more work to do.

It won't be easy but it will have purpose.

This government faces a $5.6 billion deficit with another possible $2.2 billion in risks.

This is a huge obstacle to overcome but we are up to the challenge.

We recently concluded a historic public consultation process across the province.

In towns and cities around Ontario, we heard first-hand what matters most to Ontarians.

This is where we will focus our efforts as we prepare our first Budget.

We will continue to act on the priorities we ran on and that Ontarians voted for.

We want our students to succeed.

We want a world-class health care system.

And we want safer, cleaner, more livable communities.

This is our vision for Ontario.

If we all work together we can provide Ontarians with a quality of life that is second to none.

Thank you.