Premier Urges Federal Government To Join Ontario's Economic Plan
“The plan is working,” Dalton McGuinty says, “and now is the time to accelerate it.”
Now is the time to accelerate an economic plan that has helped to deliver 340,000 more jobs than Ontario had four years ago, says Premier Dalton McGuinty.
"Our plan for the economy is to invest in our people so they can take on the world and win, and to work with our businesses, to attract the investment and high paying jobs our families need," McGuinty said in a speech here today. "The plan is working and we have 340,000 more jobs than we had four years ago, to prove it."
In today's hyper-competitive, truly global economy, the most investment and the best jobs go to those places with the best educated, most highly skilled workers, and the highest quality of life, McGuinty told the Oakville Chamber of Commerce.
"That's why we're investing in the education and skills, and health and well-being of all Ontarians," he said.
He pointed to the $500 million auto investment fund the government used to leverage $7 billion in new investment and secure thousands of high-skill jobs in that industry, including 4,000 jobs at a $1 billion state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Ford Canada's Oakville plant.
He contrasted that with the previous government's approach -- a single-minded emphasis on tax cuts that mostly benefited the privileged few and cuts to environmental regulations -- an approach the Premier described as a "race to the bottom."
"We fundamentally disagree with an economic strategy premised on low wages and a low standard of living. We have a different approach. We believe in equipping our people -- all of our people -- to reach higher."
For every job Ontario has lost as our economy copes with a rapidly changing world, three new ones have been created, McGuinty said.
Still, Ontario does face challenges, particularly in helping manufacturers transition to advanced technologies and processes, at the same time they face high energy costs, a high dollar and higher interest rates, he said.
"To overcome these challenges, and continue to seize the countless opportunities that are out there for Ontario, we need to accelerate our plan," he said.
"We need the federal government to be a true partner in this. We need them to return to Ontario some of the windfall revenues they're banking from energy taxes in the form of strategic investments in opportunity for our businesses and fairness for our workers."
Specifically, McGuinty called on the Harper government to:
- Match Ontario's contribution to the $500-million Advanced Manufacturing Strategy fund, which has already started to create and retain jobs by helping manufacturers invest in modern equipment and innovative processes.
- Match Ontario's contribution to a recently announced $650-million Next Generation Jobs Fund, designed to leverage private sector investment in the research and development of new green technologies, such as clean vehicles, that can be marketed to the world.
- Fix the Employment Insurance system, which still requires Ontarians to work longer to qualify for employment insurance than Canadians in other provinces, and pays them fewer benefits when they do qualify.
"Last year, the average regular benefit paid per unemployed person in other provinces was $9,070. In Ontario, it was $5,110 -- that's a gap of almost $4,000 per worker," McGuinty said. "Surely, a worker in Thunder Bay, or Windsor, or Hamilton, deserves the same support as a Canadian living in Alberta."
McGuinty stressed that it's important for the federal government to join all Ontarians in moving our economy forward.
"The longer I'm Premier, the more confident I am that our plan is the right plan for Ontario's economy. Our job numbers tell us that. And investors around the world tell us that," he said.
"But I'm equally certain that we need to accelerate that plan. The world is moving faster every day, and so must we. Our competitors are getting smarter and becoming more skilled every day, and so must we. Ontario can compete. We can win. And we can continue to succeed. But the only way is by dreaming and building and working together."