Remarks By Dalton McGuinty, Premier Of Ontario On Meeting With The Prime Minister
Check Against Delivery
Thank you for joining us here today.
Before I specifically address today's meeting with the Prime Minister, I want to provide a bit of context by briefly outlining Ontario's position on the $23 billion dollar gap.
This gap, of course, is the gap between what Ontarians send to the federal government and what they get back in the form of programs and services.
Ontarians are proud Canadians.
I believe that no group in this country more closely identifies with the nation as a whole than do the people of Ontario.
We believe in a strong Ontario because we believe that it's important to a strong Canada.
We're proud of the role we play in ensuring fairness for every Canadian when it comes to access to health care and other important public services.
We're proud to be the economic engine of this country.
But to share wealth, we need to generate it in the first place.
And the gap has grown to the point where it compromises our ability to invest in Ontario's future prosperity.
In fact, the gap has grown over the past ten years from $2 billion to $23 billion.
It's grown to the point that the federal government is projecting large surpluses while Ontario is working to reduce a large deficit.
And it's grown to the point that Ontario receives $92 per person to spend on roads and transportation infrastructure while the rest of Canada receives $146 per person.
Ontario receives $608 per person for health and other social programs, compared to $687 per person for the rest of Canada.
We generate all the wealth we need here in Ontario to do what we need to do for the good of Ontario and Canada.
We just need to keep more of that wealth here.
To be clear, we're not asking to eliminate the $23 billion gap, but we do want to narrow it.
And Ontarians have been united in making the case to the federal government.
Our numbers have been backed up by leading economists, including studies from the TD Bank and CIBC World Markets.
Our campaign has been endorsed by the Ontario Medical Association, the Ontario Hospital Association, the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, the Council of Ontario Universities, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Ontario Camber of Commerce.
So Ontarians welcomed the news that the Prime Minister was willing to meet with me today to address the $23 billion gap.
And I'm pleased to report that today we were successful in resolving two major areas of unfairness for Ontario: immigration and training.
From now on, Ontarians will be treated the same as Canadians in other provinces insofar as those transfers are concerned.
We've also made some real and substantial progress in post-secondary education, infrastructure, and corporate tax collection.
Today's agreement means good news for Ontario's businesses, our students, our workers and our new Canadians.
On behalf of Ontarians, I thank the Prime Minister for the real progress that we together made today.
But there's still work to do.
Unfairness persists in federal transfers for areas like health care and employment insurance, where Ontarians continue to receive less funding than residents of other provinces.
The Prime Minister and I have agreed to meet again to pursue discussions on these other issues.
I will continue to make the case for fairness.
Because there's too much at stake for our province and our country not to, and because Ontarians are counting on us.
And Canada is counting on Ontarians.