Building Sustainable Prosperity for Ontario in 2015
Throughout 2015, the government has continued to create opportunity and security for people in a more prosperous Ontario. It has made significant progress on its four-part plan to invest in people's talents and skills, make the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province's history, create a dynamic, innovative environment where business thrives, and build a secure retirement savings plan. Some highlights of the year's progress include:
Protecting the Great Lakes
January 1, 2015
Amendments to the Environmental Protection Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and Water Resources Act came into force, regulating the transfer of water between Great Lakes watersheds in Ontario and helping to ensure the province meets its commitments under the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resource Agreement, which Ontario, Québec and eight U.S. states signed in 2005 to protect these shared natural resources.
Launching the Jobs and Prosperity Fund
January 7, 2015
Ontario launched the Jobs and Prosperity Fund to stimulate a globally competitive business climate. The fund is providing $2.7 billion over 10 years to enhance productivity, bolster innovation and grow Ontario's exports.
Listening to Students Across Ontario
January 9 to 19, 2015
Premier Wynne toured colleges and universities across the province to hear directly from students about the issues that matter most to them, including the prevention of sexual violence on campus and supporting mental health services for postsecondary students. The Premier also announced funding for 14 projects to help more postsecondary students obtain access to mental health services faster.
Transforming Health Care for Patients
February 2, 2015
Ontario introduced Patients First: Ontario's Action Plan for Health Care, which outlines the government's plan to provide patients with faster access to the right care, connect people with the services they need to receive better coordinated and more integrated care in the community, provide the information and transparency Ontarians need, and protect the province's universal public health care system for generations to come.
Selling Shares of General Motors to Reinvest in Infrastructure and Economic Growth
February 4, 2015
The government announced that Ontario completed the sale of its remaining interest in General Motors Company and will direct the gain of about $1.1 billion from the sale into the Trillium Trust, in addition to the $249 million gain from the September 2013 share sale. The trust will invest the funds to help build a new generation of public infrastructure to improve the province's long-term competitiveness and the well-being of all Ontarians.
Promoting the Health and Well-Being of Students
February 23, 2015
In order to give students accurate information that will help keep them safe and healthy, Ontario released an updated Health and Physical Education curriculum. The updated curriculum reflects the realities faced by today's students, including healthy relationships, consent, mental health, online safety and the risks of "sexting." The curriculum has also been updated to be more reflective of Ontario's growing and diverse population.
Investing in Mental Health and Addictions Services
February 25, 2015
Ontario invested $28 million in local mental health and addictions organizations to increase access to services while shortening wait times, improve transitions between care teams and support early intervention initiatives. Over the following months, the government also invested nearly $48 million for specialized mental health services at St. Joseph's Care Group in Thunder Bay, up to $13.1 million in a new clinic in Toronto's Regent Park, $5.2 million to expand mental health care for teens, $1.9 million through its Youth Suicide Prevention Plan, and $1.2 million in a new mental health crisis centre in London.
Showing National Leadership on the Issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
February 27, 2015
At the first National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Premier Wynne tabled a list of 10 pan-Canadian actions to end violence against Indigenous women and girls. The actions focused both on getting at the root causes of this violence by raising public awareness and looking at poverty, housing and education, as well as on policing and justice system responses to support women, girls and their families. These proposed actions support the federal government's decision to launch a national inquiry into the tragedy facing Indigenous communities.
Reviewing Ontario Land Use Plans
February 27, 2015
On the 10th anniversary of the largest permanently protected greenbelt in the world, the government announced a co-ordinated review of the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan. The review will support Ontario's plan to grow the Greenbelt, protect prime agricultural land, build transit friendly communities and support economic development. The government appointed an advisory panel, chaired by the Hon. David Crombie, to support the review. On December 7, 2015, the panel delivered its final report for the government's consideration.
Working to End Sexual Violence and Harassment
March 6, 2015
Ontario released a ground-breaking action plan to stop sexual violence and harassment, called It's Never Okay, An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment, and committed $41 million over three years to support its implementation. The plan outlines 13 concrete measures to help change attitudes, provide more support to survivors and strengthen laws to better protect people at work and on campuses. Since the plan's launch, the government has taken a number of crucial steps, including convening a permanent Roundtable on Violence Against Women, airing two ads to raise awareness of the issue, providing more funding to centres that support survivors of sexual violence, and convening It's Never Okay: 2015 Summit on Sexual Violence and Harassment, which brought together leading local, national and international experts to showcase best practices in responding to sexual violence and harassment across a wide range of sectors.
Building Co-operation with GTHA Mayors
March 24, 2015
Premier Wynne met with Mayors and Chairs from municipalities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area as Ontario hosted the first-ever GTHA Mayors' Summit. At the summit, they agreed to work together on three key issues: transit and transportation; growth planning and infrastructure; and economic growth across the region. They committed to meeting twice a year to build on their progress on shared issues. The second summit was held on October 6, 2015.
Assisting Low-income Ontarians with Electricity Costs
March 26, 2015
The Ontario Energy Board, at the request of the government, has developed the Ontario Electricity Support Program to help low-income Ontarians pay their electricity bills. Starting January 1, 2016, the program will provide an ongoing credit directly on the bills of eligible low-income electricity consumers. A low-income household with a typical electricity bill could spend as much as 10 per cent or more of their annual income on electricity bills -- while the same typical bill would account for 2 per cent of income for a household with an annual income of $100,000.
Enhancing Access to Legal Aid
April 1, 2015
Ontario raised the income level at which people qualify for legal aid by six per cent -- the second of three planned annual increases of six per cent. The first two increases have given 250,000 more low-income Ontarians access to legal aid.
Supporting Local Programs to Reduce Poverty
April 7, 2015
Ontario launched the Local Poverty Reduction Fund, a $50-million investment over six years that supports innovative and sustainable community-driven initiatives that measurably improve the lives of those most affected by poverty. The government will use evidence gathered from these programs to apply best practices across Ontario, and focus funding on programs that are proven to work and can be expanded over time.
Making Electricity Rate Cuts for Northern Industries Permanent
April 7, 2015
The government announced it will make the Northern Industrial Electricity Rate Program permanent. Introduced in 2010, Ontario will continue to invest up to $120 million per year. The program currently provides a rebate of 2 cents per kWh, which helps qualifying large industrial companies in northern Ontario reduce electricity prices by about 25 per cent. The program helps Ontario's northern industrial electricity consumers sustain jobs and maintain global competitiveness.
Introducing Cap and Trade to Fight Climate Change
April 13, 2015
Ontario announced it will launch a cap and trade program to impose a hard ceiling on greenhouse gas pollution. It will reduce this ceiling each year to help meet the government's commitment to lower emissions by 2020 to 15 per cent below 1990 levels. Ontario intends to link its cap and trade program with Québec, Manitoba and California's under the Western Climate Initiative, North America's largest carbon market.
Broadening Hydro One's Ownership
April 16 and November 12, 2015
The government announced it would implement the recommendations of the Premier's Advisory Council on Government Assets to broaden Hydro One's ownership by selling shares in the company through an Initial Public Offering (IPO). The IPO yielded gross proceeds of $1.83 billion, some of which will be used to pay down debt while the majority of the proceeds have been placed in the Trillium Trust and will be used to build priority infrastructure such as transit.
Getting Beer into Grocery Stores
April 16 and December 15, 2015
The government announced that Ontario grocery stores would be authorized to sell beer in Ontario, and in December announced the locations of the first 58 stores. The move, which gives consumers more convenience and choice, supports the growth of Ontario's craft brewers and keeps Ontario's beer prices below the Canadian average, is the biggest change to beer retailing in Ontario since the end of Prohibition in 1927. Ontario also maintains its strong commitment to social responsibility. New laws support the responsible sale of alcohol in grocery stores, including designated sales areas and hours of sale, limitations to package sizes and alcohol by volume, and staffing and training requirements.
Making the Largest Infrastructure Investment in Ontario's History
April 23 and November 26, 2015
In the 2015 Budget, Ontario committed to making a record investment in public infrastructure. In the Fall Economic Statement, the government announced that it will increase this investment to more than $134 billion over 10 years. From April to September, the government announced support for more than 200 projects, including roads, highways, bridges, transit, water, wastewater, schools and hospitals.
Increasing Agri-Food Exports to China
April 27, 2015
Ontario's first-ever Minister-led agricultural trade mission secured new export opportunities for the province's agri-food sector. Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and Michael Chan, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade, were accompanied by 20 Ontario businesses and organizations. They met with more than 300 Chinese agri-food companies and government officials, and secured deals including agreements to boost exports of Ontario wine and maple products.
Building a Secure Retirement Savings Plan
April 29 and August 11, 2015
The government passed a bill creating a framework to establish the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP). The ORPP will help provide retirement security for the two-thirds of Ontario workers -- about 3.5 million people -- without a workplace pension plan. In August, the government announced details of the ORPP's design, including that it will be phased in to give employers time to adapt, it will start to pay benefits in 2022, and it will not be required for those with a comparable workplace plan.
Strengthening Ties with Québec
May 11, 2015
Québec Premier Philippe Couillard visited Ontario to deliver a special address to the Legislative Assembly -- the first by a Canadian Premier in more than 50 years. Under the leadership of Premier Wynne and Premier Couillard, Ontario and Québec have been working together to grow their economies, strengthen interprovincial trade and collaborate on key issues such as energy and climate change.
Taking Leadership on Climate Change
May 14, 2015
Ontario became the first province to set a mid-term greenhouse gas pollution reduction target for 2030, committing to reduce emissions by 37 per cent below 1990 levels. Current data shows that Ontario met its 2014 reduction target of six per cent below 1990 levels, and is well past the halfway point to meeting its target of 15 per cent by 2020.
Promoting Ontario's Strengths in the U.S.
May 14 to 20, 2015
Premier Wynne visited the U.S., Ontario's largest trading partner, to strengthen cross-border relationships and highlight the diverse expertise Ontario has to offer. In New York City and Washington, D.C., she met with business leaders and government decision-makers to promote the benefits of doing business with Ontario, as well as the province's leadership on climate change, infrastructure and gender equality.
Attracting Foreign Investment
May 15, 2015
For the second straight year, Ontario was named the North American leader in attracting foreign capital investment -- surpassing regions with much larger economies like California and Texas. The ranking was by fDi Intelligence, which does in-depth research and analysis on foreign direct investment trends globally.
Expanding Access to Postsecondary Education
May 20, 2015
The province is helping to establish a new university campus in Markham so more students can attend postsecondary education closer to home. The York University - Markham Centre campus, in partnership with Seneca College, will serve an estimated 4,000 students, with the potential for more over time.
Promoting Education, Diversity and Economic Development
May 25, 2015
His Highness the Aga Khan visited Queen's Park to sign a historic Agreement of Cooperation between the Province and the Ismaili Imamat. The agreement outlines areas of cooperation and joint initiatives, including leveraging diversity and culture as an economic driver and supporting a pluralistic approach to education. The Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. He is also Founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of agencies that share a mission to improve living conditions and opportunities for the poor, without regard to their faith, origin or gender.
Maximizing the Benefits of Immigration
May 28, 2015
The government passed Ontario's first-ever Immigration Act to help attract more skilled immigrants and boost economic growth. The legislation facilitates Ontario's work with the federal government to recruit, select and admit skilled immigrants; strengthens ongoing efforts to reduce fraud; and increases transparency and information-sharing with the province's immigration partners.
Reducing Collisions, Injuries and Fatalities on Ontario Roads
June 2, 2015
In order to keep Ontario's roads among the safest in North America, the government passed the Making Ontario's Roads Safer Act. The new law increases fines for distracted driving, applies current alcohol-impaired sanctions to drug-impaired drivers and expands licence plate denial for drivers who do not pay certain Provincial Offences Act fines.
Launching Ontario's Accessibility Action Plan
June 3, 2015
The government introduced The Path to 2025: Ontario's Accessibility Action Plan to ensure that Ontarians of all abilities can reach their full potential. The plan, which builds on progress made since the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005, commits Ontario to becoming fully accessible by 2025.
Building the Next Generation of Infrastructure
June 4, 2015
Ontario passed the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act to advance long-term infrastructure planning. The legislation will require the current and future governments to table a long-term infrastructure plan at least once every five years, align infrastructure investments with Ontario's economic development priorities and strengthen the province's competitive edge globally.
Launching the Union Pearson Express
June 6, 2015
Ontario opened the Union Pearson Express in time for the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. With the launch of UP Express, Toronto joined the ranks of global cities with a seamless airport-to-downtown connection, enhancing the region's competitive advantage, managing congestion and promoting tourism.
Introducing New Rules to Protect Pollinators
June 9, 2015
A growing body of scientific evidence shows that neonicotinoid insecticides are highly toxic to honeybees and other beneficial insects. In order to reduce neonicotinoid use in Ontario, the province introduced new regulatory requirements for the sale and use of neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds. The regulations ensure that neonicotinoid-treated seeds are used only when there is a demonstrated pest problem, and will support the province's target of reducing the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-treated seeds by 80 per cent by 2017.
Strengthening Ties with the Great Lakes States and Promoting Environmental Stewardship of the Great Lakes
June 12 to 14, 2015
Premier Wynne attended the Council of Great Lakes Governors' Leadership Summit in Québec City, where she strengthened connections with leaders of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and moved forward on collaborative regional efforts to ensure the environmental stewardship and responsible economic development of the Great Lakes. At the Summit, a new bilateral entity was created that elevated Ontario and Québec to full voting members alongside their state counterparts
Increasing Ontario Child Benefit to Help 500,000 Families
June 18, 2015
The province announced an increase to the maximum Ontario Child Benefit payment to $1,336 per child per year to help eligible families with the cost of raising children. The monthly payment, which supports about one million children in Ontario, provides direct financial support to low- to moderate-income families with children under the age of 18. The government also tied future increases to the Ontario Consumer Price Index, ensuring that the Child Benefit will keep pace with inflation. The increase to the maximum Ontario Child Benefit payment will also be reflected in the Ontario Child Benefit Equivalent funding provided to children's aid societies for children and youth in care.
Connecting More Seniors with Their Communities
June 25, 2015
Ontario doubled its investment in the Seniors Community Grant Program, from $1 million to $2 million. The program is helping over 73,000 seniors stay active by participating in programs such as computer and financial literacy, healthy eating and exercise, and local cultural appreciation events.
Supporting At-Risk Youth
June 26, 2015
Ontario invested an additional $55 million over three years to an enhanced Youth Action Plan. The action plan is providing an estimated 37,000 opportunities to help the highest-need young people make the right choices and reach their full potential.
Hosting the Pan American and Parapan American Games
July 10 to 26 and August 7 to 15, 2015
This summer, Ontario hosted the largest international multi-sport event ever held on Canadian soil -- the TORONTO 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games. The province welcomed more than 10,000 athletes and officials and millions of fans from across the Americas and Caribbean to 15 municipalities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area. The Games brought lasting benefits that will enrich Ontario for decades to come, including new and upgraded infrastructure and a strong social legacy of volunteerism, accessibility and participation in sport.
Protecting Marine Mammals
July 31, 2015
From July to September, members of the public provided comments on Ontario's proposed standards of care for marine mammals, including orcas (killer whales), dolphins, beluga whales, sea lions and walruses. The standards will be phased in beginning in early 2016, and will apply to facilities that house these unique animals, ensuring they receive appropriate treatment and care. The new regulations will help Ontario build on its track record of having one of the strongest animal protection laws in Canada.
Celebrating Ontario's French Heritage
August 1, 2015
On August 1, 1615, French explorer Samuel de Champlain arrived on the shores of Georgian Bay. As part of the commemoration of 400 years of French presence in Ontario, Premier Wynne attended the official opening ceremony of the Rotary Champlain Wendat Park, a restored and enhanced 400th-themed commemorative park in Penetanguishene. The event featured a re-enactment of Samuel de Champlain's historic encounter with the Huron Wendat Nation. Throughout the year, celebrations took place across the province to recognize the integral role that the Francophone community has played in Ontario's history, development and prosperity.
Revitalizing Public Spaces as Community Hubs
August 10, 2015
Ontario launched a Community Hubs Action Plan to adapt existing public spaces so they can provide integrated service delivery in areas such as education, health care and social services. The Premier's Community Hub Framework Advisory Group proposed the action plan, which the government announced it will fully implement. The plan provides a roadmap for better serving Ontarians by turning public spaces such as schools and neighbourhood centres into community hubs offering co-ordinated services.
Renewing the Relationship with First Nations
August 24, 2015
The Chiefs of Ontario and the Government of Ontario signed a historic Political Accord to guide the relationship between First Nations and the province. The Accord affirms First Nations' inherent right to self-government, commits the parties to work together on shared priorities and sets a path for further reconciliation. Ontario has also taken a number of other steps to renew this relationship, including raising awareness of the importance of treaties, reviewing the recommendations made by Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, supporting plans for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and meeting with First Nations leader and community members at Leaders in the Legislature.
Expanding Collaboration with Québec
September 11, 2015
As part of both governments' commitment to deepening an important partnership and building economic opportunities for both provinces, Québec Premier Couillard and Ontario Premier Wynne chaired a joint meeting of cabinet ministers in Québec City. They signed Memorandums of Understanding to explore the potential for increased trade in electricity and to enhance collaboration on climate change. They also agreed to take action in several key areas, including expanding government procurement opportunities for businesses, social and affordable housing, water management, sustainable forestry development, child protection, pension administration, railway safety, and artistic and cultural exchanges.
Helping More Refugees Settle in Ontario
September 12, November 24, December 4 and December 11, 2015
Ontario announced it will provide $10.5 million over two and a half years to support refugees, increase the number coming to Ontario, and help them settle and integrate once they arrive. This amount included the province's commitment of $2 million to Syrian relief efforts through the United Nations. In November, Ontario formed a Ministers' Ad Hoc Committee on Refugees to ensure seamless, co-ordinated and appropriate support for arriving refugees.
Helping Students Transition After High School
September 14, 2015
To help students graduating from high school make the transition to a college, university or training facility, the government launched Experience Ontario, a two-year, $20-million pilot program. In its first year, the program will give about 600 students across Ontario valuable work experience, career coaching and mentorship. Supports provided through the program include access to a career coach, a visit to a postsecondary institution or training facility, and paid work placements to help students choose the appropriate postsecondary educational path and succeed once they enrol.
Developing Ontario's First Culture Strategy
September 24, 2015
The government invited public input to develop Ontario's first culture strategy, which will set out a vision for arts and culture in the province. The strategy will help ensure that provincial support for culture reflects the profound impact of demographic and economic changes and the influence of digital technology.
Beating the Deficit Target by $2.2 Billion While Making Government More Open
September 28, 2015
The Public Accounts of Ontario for 2014-15 revealed that the deficit was $10.3 billion that year, $2.2 billion less than projected in the 2014 Budget. For the first time, the province used open government principles to present Public Accounts information online, as well as releasing data through Ontario's Open Data Catalogue. These tools will help to make the information easier to understand and access. This marked the sixth year in a row that the government beat its deficit target.
Making it Easier to Adopt Children in Care
September 29, 2015
The province is making it easier for waiting families to adopt children and youth currently in the care of children's aid societies. Ontario is funding up to 15 targeted adoption recruiters in partnership with Wendy's Wonderful Kids, a successful adoption program run through the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. The province is also taking a number of steps to make the adoption experience more effective and efficient, while increasing support for adoptive parents.
Connecting At-risk Youth with Jobs
October 1, 2015
Ontario launched the Youth Job Connection program, which is investing more than $160 million over two years in support and training for 27,000 young people facing multiple barriers to employment. The program provides paid pre-employment training, mentorship and job opportunities for youth aged 15 to 29 dealing with employment barriers such as poverty, homelessness, disability and mental health issues. It also provides summer, part-time and after-school job opportunities to help high school students aged 15 to 18 who face challenging life circumstances transition between school and work.
Expanding Access to Fertility Treatments
October 1, 2015
The government expanded access to in vitro fertilization (IVF) services starting in December 2015, for Ontarians with all forms of infertility, regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation or family status. Previously, only women with blocked fallopian tubes were eligible for funding support. This step will help 4,000 more Ontarians each year grow their families through IVF. The province is also working with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario to ensure that patients receive the highest-quality fertility services, whether in a hospital or non-hospital fertility clinic.
Providing Quality Child Care Close to Home
October 2, 2015
Ontario is investing $120 million over three years, starting in the 2014-15 school year, towards the construction of child care spaces in new schools and schools approved for major expansions and renovations. To date, more than $80 million has been invested to build a total of 164 new child care rooms, resulting in 2,901 new licensed child care spaces in schools. This investment will help give families more options for high-quality child care close to home.
Improving Environmental Protections for the Great Lakes
October 7, 2015
Ontario passed the Great Lakes Protection Act, strengthening the province's ability to keep the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River clean, as well as protect and restore the waterways that flow into them. This crucial step enables the government to address significant environmental challenges to the Great Lakes, including climate change, harmful pollutants and algal blooms.
Enhancing Online Learning
October 8, 2015
A new online education portal will give Ontario postsecondary students access to thousands of accredited online college and university courses and supports. The web portal, called eCampusOntario.ca, builds on the province's strong foundation in e-learning and distance education and allows institutions to showcase state-of-the-art courses recognized for academic credits across multiple institutions. All 45 publicly assisted colleges and universities in Ontario offer courses through the portal.
Closing the Gender Wage Gap
October 8, 2015
The province launched public consultations seeking input on the development of a strategy to close the wage gap between men and women. Ontario's gender wage gap ranges from 12 per cent to 31.5 per cent, and is more pronounced among minority groups, Aboriginals, newcomer women, and women living with disabilities. Public consultation townhalls are being hosted across Ontario, and feedback is being gathered through written submissions until January 15, 2016 and by an online survey until February 29, 2016.
Supporting Innovation in Transportation
October 13, 2015
The government announced that a pilot project will begin on January 1, 2016 to test automated vehicles on roads, making Ontario the first province to do so. Automated vehicles are driverless or self-driving, and detect the surrounding environment using artificial intelligence, sensors and global positioning system coordinates. The technology has the potential to improve fuel efficiency while reducing traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions and driver distraction. Forecasts predict that by 2040, up to 75 per cent of all vehicles on the road will be automated.
Strengthening Laws to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment
October 27, 2015
Ontario introduced legislation to help build a province where everyone is free from the threat of sexual violence and harassment. If passed, the legislation would strengthen support for survivors and make workplaces, campuses and communities safer and the civil claim process more responsive to complaints. This is a vital part of It's Never Okay, the government's action plan to stop sexual violence and harassment.
Working to End Chronic Homelessness
October 28, 2015
The government set an ambitious target to end chronic homelessness in 10 years and will implement recommendations from the Expert Advisory Panel on Homelessness. This commitment was in response to a report from the panel, which was established in January to provide advice on how to achieve the goal of ending homelessness under the province's Poverty Reduction Strategy. The five-year strategy aims to lift more people out of poverty and help them reach their full potential.
Taking Action to Prohibit Carding and Street Checks
October 28, 2015
The province drafted a regulation that would prohibit the arbitrary collection of identifying information by police, known as street checks, and sometimes referred to as carding. The regulation would also establish clear rules to protect civil liberties during voluntary police-public interactions where identifying information is collected. This would ensure that those interactions are done without bias or discrimination and conducted in a way that promotes public confidence and keeps communities safe.
Protecting Freedom of Expression
October 28, 2015
Ontario passed a law that will protect freedom of speech by reducing the risk of someone being threatened with legal action for speaking out on matters of public interest. The Protection of Public Participation Act will allow people to participate more freely in public discussions without fear of retribution by giving them a better way to defend themselves against strategic lawsuits. The threat of a strategic lawsuit, which can be lengthy and expensive, is often used to intimidate or punish opponents and discourage others from speaking out.
Building Partnerships with California and China
November 1 to November 13, 2015
Premier Wynne embarked on successful missions to California and China, attracting new investments and helping the province's businesses compete globally. In California, Premier Wynne visited San Francisco and Los Angeles to showcase Ontario's leadership in information and communications technology, film production, cleantech and climate change. On her second trade mission to China, the Premier and the delegations that accompanied her made stops in Nanjing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing, and generated $2.5 billion in agreements. The Premier also observed Remembrance Day by participating in a ceremony in honour of the more than 500 Canadian soldiers, including 37 from Ontario, who are buried or memorialized at the Sai Wan Cemetery in Hong Kong.
Taking Action to Protect Against Invasive Species
November 3, 2015
Ontario took action to protect communities from the social, economic and ecological impacts of invasive species by passing the Invasive Species Act. This legislation supports the prevention, early detection, rapid response and eradication of invasive species.
Increasing Support for Vulnerable Ontarians
November 3, 2015
The government increased financial support for people receiving social assistance, including $25 more per month for single adults receiving Ontario Works who do not have children. This amounts to a total monthly increase of $75 since 2012. Changes also included one per cent more for families receiving Ontario Works, people with disabilities who access the Ontario Disability Support Program, and various other recipients, including those receiving the Remote Communities Allowance and Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities.
Improving Access to Sex Reassignment Surgery
November 6, 2015
Ontario is proposing to allow all qualified health care providers across the province to refer patients for sex reassignment surgery. Under the current system, patients can only receive a referral for insured sex reassignment surgery through the Gender Identity Clinic program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. The amendments to the Health Insurance Act are currently posted for consultation and are expected to be put into effect in early 2016.
Supporting Students and Families by Investing in Education and Child Care
November 9, 2015
To provide students with better places to learn while giving families more options for quality licensed child care close to home, Ontario invested $498 million in new and renovated schools and new child care spaces. Work has begun on 30 new schools, 26 major additions and renovations to existing schools, and 122 safe, high-quality licensed child care rooms, which will result in 2,135 new licensed spaces for infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers.
Fuelling Transit Growth in Local Communities
November 12, 2015
Ontario provided $332.9 million in gas tax funding to 95 municipalities this year to help expand and improve public transit -- an increase of $11.4 million from 2014. Municipalities use the funding to enhance accessibility, purchase additional transit vehicles, add more routes and extend hours of service, which makes it easier for people to use public transit. The program also helps manage traffic congestion and reduce air pollution.
Supporting Skilled Trades by Strengthening the Ontario College of Trades
November 20, 2015
In partnership with the Ontario College of Trades, the government accepted the recommendations made by former Secretary of Cabinet Tony Dean in his report, Supporting a Strong and Sustainable Ontario College of Trades. The College is the industry-driven governing body responsible for promoting and modernizing skilled trades in the province. Ontario will propose legislative changes in the spring and work closely with the College to implement Mr. Dean's recommendations for improving its processes and clarifying its mandate.
Banning Coal-Fired Electricity Generation
November 23, 2015
In a first for North America and a significant step in the fight against climate change, the government passed legislation to permanently ban coal-fired electricity generation in the province. The Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act prevents new and existing facilities from burning coal for the sole purpose of generating electricity, sets maximum fines for anyone who violates the ban and enshrines the health and environmental benefits of ending coal-fired electricity generation into law.
Stepping up the Fight Against Climate Change
November 24 and November 30 to December 11, 2015
Ontario released its Climate Change Strategy, which lays out the government's vision for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to secure a low-carbon future for the province. The strategy outlines steps such as introducing legislation to make the cap and trade program law; ensuring that government decision-making and infrastructure planning consider ways to mitigate and adapt to climate change based on sound scientific evidence; and helping the government move towards carbon neutrality. At the United Nations' climate change conference in Paris, or COP21, Premier Wynne promoted Ontario's leadership in fighting climate change and expanded its relationships with other jurisdictions working to transition to a prosperous and more sustainable low-carbon economy. At COP21, Ontario signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Québec and Manitoba that will, among other things, facilitate linking Manitoba's new cap and trade program to Ontario, Québec and California under the Western Climate Initiative, further strengthening North America's largest carbon market. The province also announced $20 million in funding this year to build a network of electric vehicle charging stations.
Beating Fiscal Targets while Delivering on Commitments
November 26, 2015
In its 2015 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, the province forecasted revised deficits of $7.5 billion in 2015-16 and $4.5 billion in 2016-17. This is an improvement of $1 billion in 2015-16 and $0.3 billion in 2016-17 compared with the deficit targets laid out in April in the 2015 Budget. The government remains committed to balancing the budget by 2017-18 while helping more businesses succeed and grow, building modern transportation and infrastructure, pursuing a collaborative approach to federalism and working with the new federal government on shared priorities, driven by a set of common goals and values.
Launching Business Growth Initiative
November 26, 2015
The government launched a new Business Growth Initiative to bolster competitiveness by promoting the scaling up and growth of successful Ontario firms to become global leaders that export to key markets, advancing an innovation-driven, knowledge-based economy and modernizing the regulatory environment to reduce the administrative burden and lower the cost of doing business.
Making Government Data Open by Default
November 27, 2015
The government released an Open Data Directive to increase transparency and spur innovation by making government data publicly available. The province engaged with Ontarians on the draft directive to make sure it reflects their needs, and used public feedback to help shape the final version. The directive, to take effect April 1, 2016, will require all ministries and provincial agencies to make data public, unless it is exempt for privacy, legal, confidentiality, security or commercially sensitive reasons. The government collects and generates data on a wide range of topics, such as school enrolment, healthcare wait times and traffic volume.
Strengthening Ontario's Election System
December 2, 2015
The legislature passed The Electoral Boundaries Act, to adjust Ontario's riding boundaries and ensure Ontarians are represented fairly in the legislature. As a result, the number of provincial ridings in southern Ontario will increase from 96 to 111 for the election scheduled in 2018. This change aligns Ontario's southern ridings with the new federal boundaries, better reflects population shifts, maintains the 11 existing ridings in northern Ontario and increases the total number of ridings in Ontario to 122.
Increasing Protections for Condo Owners
December 2, 2015
Ontario passed legislation to increase protections for condominium owners, improve how condo corporations are run and ensure that condo boards are governed professionally. The Protecting Condominium Owners Act marks the first major overhaul of the province's condominium laws since 1998. The government will continue to consult with the public and stakeholders to develop regulations and implement this legislation. More than half of new homes being built in Ontario are condos, and 1.3 million Ontarians already live in condos -- more than the populations of Saskatchewan or Manitoba.
Introducing HOT Lanes to Manage Highway Congestion
December 7, 2015
The province announced a pilot project, beginning in the summer of 2016, to implement high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. The pilot will convert existing high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on a section of the QEW in Oakville and Burlington into HOT lanes, which have been proven to help manage congestion. Drivers without passengers will have the option of paying a toll to use the HOT lanes, which will remain free for drivers with passengers.
Protecting Consumers Who Use High-Cost Financial Products and Services
December 9, 2015
Ontario introduced the Alternative Financial Services Statute Law Amendment Act, 2015 to better protect users of high-cost alternative financial products and services such as payday loans, instalment loans, rent-to-own and cheque cashing services, and to better protect those with debts in collection. If passed, the Act would make amendments to the Payday Loans Act, Consumer Protection Act, and the Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act.
Providing Full Protection to Injured Workers and Their Survivors
December 10, 2015
Ontario amended the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to introduce full indexation for all injured workers who receive partial disability benefits. Starting January 1, 2018, all injured workers' compensation benefits will be fully indexed (to the Consumer Price Index) on the benefit amount, with no upper limit. The changes provide fairness in the way that injured workers receiving Workplace Safety and Insurance Board benefits are treated.
The government's achievements in 2015 are part of its plan to build Ontario up. The four-part plan includes investing in people's talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province's history, creating a dynamic, innovative environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan.