MPP JOURNAL for the week of April 23, 2021


21 Steps into the 21st Century

Last week the Ontario Legislature began a new Legislative Session with a Speech from the Throne. The speech set out a 21-step plan that will protect the gains we have made over the last six years, and set the stage for an even brighter future.

Not surprisingly, growth-in the economy and in jobs-remains the number one priority of the Harris team at Queen's Park. That's because a strong economy that creates jobs in our community and other communities across Ontario is the basis for everything else that we may wish to do. Only a strong economy gives us the means to invest in priorities such as health care and education.

Competition for jobs and investments is not only fierce, it takes place in a "ring" that encompasses the entire globe. Fortunately, Ontario's economy is still growing, but not at the breathtaking speed of the last few years. We must be vigilant in ensuring that Ontario continues to compare favourably to any other place in the world that business can go.

The Throne Speech included several initiatives to keep Ontario competitive. We are committed to more tax cuts, to create more jobs. And we will apply a new "business impact test" to all proposed regulations that might impair our ability to attract investment and jobs. A new task force will measure and monitor Ontario's productivity, competitiveness and economic progress compared to other provinces and U.S. This task forced will be led by Roger Martin, Dean of the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, and will report to the public on a regular basis.
I often remind myself that there is no such thing as "government money." There is only your money. The broader public sector-which includes municipalities, hospitals and schools-spends over 16 per cent of everything produced in Ontario every year. But there has been little accounting back to you the taxpayer as to how those institutions spend those billions. That's why the government will be proposing amendments to the Audit Act which, if passed by the Legislature, would ensure that organizations funded by your tax dollars use those dollars effectively, and for the purposes for which they were intended.

We all know that, left to their own devices, bureaucracies only get larger-never smaller. We will renew our efforts to reduce the size and scope of government, so that its focus remains serving the public-not itself. The government will sell businesses it should not operate and assets it should not own. Legislation will be proposed that would require "sunset clauses" for all new programs. We will ensure that taxpayers' dollars intended for programs to help people are not diverted to lobbying and advocacy.

This year, health care spending will be increasing for the sixth consecutive year. If health care spending were to continue to grow at its current rate, within five years it would consume 60 per cent of Ontario's budget, leaving a rapidly-dwindling share for other priorities. In the near future, the government will be getting together with patients, nurses, doctors and others to help us find ways to spend our health care dollars in a smarter and more patient-oriented way.

You may have heard that the federal government has set up a royal commission on the future of health care in Canada. The Ontario government believes strongly that the commission must be free to consider all aspects of the health care system, and explore all possible solutions to the sustainability challenge, so that the solutions will be real and lasting.

Many people have been calling for a more meaningful role for individual Members of Parliament. On occasion, I have been among them. I am so glad that one of the initiatives announced in the Throne Speech is a government proposal that more issues-particularly those requiring in-depth examination and considered recommendations-be referred to legislative committees.

With this 21-step plan, we have set an ambitious but achievable goal: that within ten years Ontario will enjoy the best-performing economy and the highest quality of life in North America. I believe that this plan will get us there.

David Tilson, MPP Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey



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