Legislative Session Ends With A Stronger Ontario
Real Progress Highlighted By Budget That Features A $6.2 Billion Investment In Higher Education
QUEEN'S PARK -- The spring session of the legislature was marked by real progress on the government's plan to strengthen the province by strengthening the education and skills, health and prosperity of Ontarians, said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.
"Our plan is working for the people of Ontario because our government is working with the people of Ontario," said Premier McGuinty. "We've been working hard to deliver the results Ontarians want and deserve, while at the same time we're reducing the deficit we inherited."
"We've also been working to narrow the $23 billion gap so that we can continue to invest in the health, education and skills of our people to build stronger communities, a more prosperous province and a better quality of life for all of us."
Highlights of the spring session include:
- Reduced the 2004-05 deficit by nearly half to $3 billion
- Investing $6.2 billion over five years in postsecondary education and training
- Reduced class sizes in 1,300 schools
- Announced the creation of 52 Family Health Teams and three networks of Family Health Teams to deliver better access to better care
- Continued to help reduce wait times by investing another $154 million to deliver 67,700 additional procedures in five critical areas
- Closed the Lakeview Generating Station, the single-largest source of air pollution in the GTA
- Preserved 1.8 million acres of greenspace as part of the Greenbelt Plan
- Reached a tentative four-year collective agreement with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union
- Invested $126 million more to keep reducing primary class sizes, bringing the number of teachers hired to over 2,400 by September
- New provincial agreements with teachers and school boards brought peace and stability to schools and work-to-rule activities came to an end
- Increasing the supply of family physicians by creating 70 per cent more family residency positions at Ontario's five medical schools by 2007-08
- Good Places To Learn funding will support school construction, facility repair and renewal projects worth $4 billion over three years, benefiting over 1.5 million students
- Increasing the supply of affordable housing by working with the federal government to commit $602 million over the next four years, assisting 20,000 households
- Launched a five-year, $30-billion infrastructure investment plan for roads, transit, hospitals, schools, colleges and universities
- Working with the federal government to finalize an agreement on a single corporate tax collection system to eliminate duplication
- Began narrowing the $23 billion gap between what Ontarians send to Ottawa and what they get back in services
- Reached an agreement with the federal government that will quadruple funding over the next five years for settlement and language programs for new immigrants arriving in Ontario.
"We're making real progress, but there's still more work to do," said Premier McGuinty. "We need to narrow the $23 billion gap because there's only one sure way to build the best-educated, most highly skilled workforce -- and that means continuing to invest in the health, education and skills of our people so that Ontario remains strong and prosperous for generations to come."