Premier's Remarks on Changes to the Executive Council
Your Honour, distinguished guests, dear colleagues, and cherished friends and family... Thank you for being here on this very special day.
I want to start by showing respect for the history and contributions of Indigenous peoples in Ontario, by acknowledging that we are gathered on the traditional and sacred territory of several peoples of Turtle Island and by giving special acknowledgment to the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. Thank you, Elder Sault, for your prayer.
Two years ago yesterday, the people of Ontario gave our government a clear mandate -- a mandate to build Ontario up; to create more opportunity and security for everyone. But what does that really mean?
I've always believed that, as Premier, my job is to make decisions that will make a genuine, positive difference in people's lives. So, as I make decisions, there is only one test that I apply. Are people doing better? Are they able to send their kids to college and university? Will they get good jobs? Are they getting the health care they need? Can they look forward to a secure retirement? These are the things that are important to people -- so they're important to me.
And I want to make the point -- one I've made before -- that you can't separate the well-being of our people from the well-being of our economy. They are one and the same. When I talk about my top priority of jobs and growth... Yes, I'm talking about helping businesses grow. But I'm also talking about the importance of great schools and hospitals...modern roads, bridges and transit...communities with green spaces where you want to live and raise a family...fulfilling work and decent pensions. Creating opportunity and security for people -- that's what the economy is. Because when we create growth, we make all of these things possible.
So, doing things that make a difference in people's day-to-day lives is what drives me.
And, it is what has motivated the ambitious and activist agenda we have introduced over the past two years. Through our integrated, four-part plan, we are investing historic amounts in infrastructure...making college and university more affordable and accessible...leading the fight against climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy... and building retirement security for workers.
The plan is in place. And now, at the mid-point of our mandate, our focus is on implementing our plan so that we can continue to deliver on our top priority -- creating jobs and growth.
Which brings us to today.
As I have said before, putting a cabinet together is one of the most personally difficult tasks required of a Premier. And I can tell you -- as I name my third cabinet -- it doesn't get any easier.
The new cabinet is slightly larger, reflecting our decision to create stand-alone ministries charged with implementing key parts of our plan. Several ministers are remaining in place, so they can continue the great work they are doing and see it through for the next two years.
Several current ministers will apply their experience and talents to new roles. We are welcoming the fresh ideas, energy and enthusiasm of seven new members of cabinet.
And as we take steps toward gender parity -- 40 per cent of the members of this cabinet are women. Women also make up 50 per cent of the membership of the Priorities, Delivery and Growth committee of cabinet.
I am excited about what these intelligent, committed and hard-working people bring to the cabinet table. They bring experience...they bring continuity...they bring an infusion of new ideas and energy...and they bring diversity.
They are a strong team -- a team that I trust to implement our plan over the next two years.
And our plan is working.
At the halfway mark of 2016, Ontario's economy is continuing to grow and create jobs. Our economy added more than 21,000 jobs in May. Last Friday, I was at GM in Oshawa, where they announced more than 700 new jobs for Ontario -- jobs that GM didn't have to locate in this province, but did because of our leadership in innovation and our highly skilled workforce.
Our economy is one of the strongest in Canada. Last year, our unemployment rate dipped to the lowest level since 2008. We announced support for more than 325 infrastructure projects, which are helping to create good jobs. The minimum wage is up and average wages are growing faster than inflation. More than 85 per cent of our kids graduate from high school...and college and university enrolment continues to climb.
Yes, our plan is working. But our work is not done. I've always believed that there is only one legitimate reason to be in politics...to make government a force for good in people's lives...to help people.
So, with this strong and talented team...we will build on the momentum...we will implement our plan...we will build Ontario up. To help the people we serve -- and the province we love.