Remarks By Dalton McGuinty, Premier Of Ontario On Provincial Gas Tax Funding For Public Transit
It's a pleasure to be here at the OC Transpo head office.
Every day the men and women of OC Transpo are working hard to keep this community running smoothly and efficiently by getting the people of Ottawa to the places where they live, work and play.
And I want to thank each of them for helping to build a stronger community.
I also want to recognize many of our municipal partners -- the mayor, councillors and transit officials who have worked so hard and so long on this important issue.
Thank you for your hard work and dedication to strengthening Ottawa's public transit system.
I'd also like to thank the members of my caucus who are here today for their commitment on behalf of their constituents.
Earlier this week, we marked our first year in office by releasing a progress report on our plan for Ontario.
Our plan for Ontario is to strengthen our greatest competitive advantage: our people.
Better transit helps our people by improving our health, our environment and our economy.
It improves our quality of life.
I am pleased to announce that we are pumping gas tax money into public transit across the province.
Beginning this month, Ottawa and more than 100 other municipalities will begin to receive a share of the existing provincial gas tax -- in keeping with our commitment.
They will receive one cent a litre this year, 1.5 cents next October and two cents in October 2006.
Those cents add up: for Ottawa that's a total of more than $85 million over the next three years.
And this is above and beyond our existing investments.
Over the next five years, our government is committing more than $1 billion in gas tax funding to improve public transit in Ontario because we know how much it means to our municipal partners.
This new funding offers municipalities stability -- for the first time they have a source of funding they can count on to make the improvements their communities need.
Flexibility -- municipalities can use these investments for either capital costs or operating expenses that support increased ridership.
And equity -- the new funding formula helps balance the needs of both large and small municipalities.
Each municipality decides how best to use their share as long as it increases transit ridership.
For example, the city of Ottawa could use the funding to buy new buses with cleaner engines -- improving air quality.
Expand service in some areas -- shortening waiting times.
Or introduce new routes -- increasing ridership.
The city could also use it to further develop its O-Train system -- reducing congestion and commute times.
We are committed to working with our municipal partners here in Ottawa and across the province to continue to strengthen Ontario's public transit systems.
But public transit is more than just a good way to get from point A to point B.
It's good for our economy.
Every $10 million invested in public transit creates more than 300 jobs and boosts business sales by more than $30 million.
It's good for our environment.
According to the Canadian Automobile Association, one transit bus can take as many as 40 cars off the road and save 70,000 litres of fuel.
And it's good for our health.
Every year there are more than 64,000 emergency room visits due to smog-related illness -- that's a health care cost of $1 billion a year.
By improving our public transit system, we're improving our quality of life.
A shorter commute means a dad or mom can get home in time for their kids' soccer game.
More routes and better schedules mean patients can get to a doctor's appointment on time.
Reduced gridlock means businesses can get their supplies in time -- and their goods to market on time.
Together, we are building better transit, stronger cities and stronger communities -- a better quality of life for all Ontarians.