MPP JOURNAL for the week of December 31, 2020


Accomplishments of our government in 2001

With the busy fall sitting of the Legislature behind us, I would like to share with you what our accomplishments mean to you, your family and our community. Though our Premier, Mike Harris, announced his resignation, our government ended this current legislative session as it began in 1995 with the introduction of bold, historic and aggressive reforms.

This fall, we accelerated our promised cuts to personal income taxes, corporate income taxes and capital taxes that were scheduled to come into effect on January 1, 2002. When our personal income tax cuts are complete, a family of four - with a combined income of $60,000 from two earners - will have $2,345 more each and every year than without our tax cuts. This money belongs to Ontario's families, not to government. Since 1995, this government has cut taxes 192 times. We are proud to be tax fighters!

We've kept the promise we made in our Throne Speech 21-step action plan by making the largest debt reduction in Ontario's history - $3.1 billion in the last fiscal year. And, for the third year in a row, we presented a balanced budget. We will continue making responsible choices for taxpayers so that future generations are not burdened with crushing debt. I am very proud of what our government has accomplished. Particularly when it comes to balancing with the need to encourage future growth and create jobs with the need to protect Ontario's natural resources and our environment.

The events of September 11 reminded us that we must never take the safety and security of Ontario's families for granted. Following that terrible day, we acted swiftly and decisively to protect the people of Ontario. We appointed two new security advisers, retired Major-General Lewis MacKenzie and former RCMP Commissioner Norman Inkster, who are providing strategic advice on Ontario's emergency readiness. And we announced new training facilities for our police, firefighters and ambulance personnel. We will invest more than $30 million in counter terrorism and emergency-management measures. We will not let the terrorists win by jeopardizing the safety or the prosperity of Ontario's families.

We are committed to ensuring that Ontarians have a clean and safe water supply. On December 12th, we introduced the Sustainable Water and Sewage Systems Act. If passed, this legislation will ensure that Ontario's water services are safe and sustainable for future generations. This legislation is the latest step the government is taking under Operation Clean Water. The first step was the tough new drinking water protection regulation, followed by the $240 million Ontario Small Town and Rural (OSTAR) initiative to support upgrades and expansion of water and sewage infrastructure. Other actions under Operation Clean Water include: the proposed Nutrient Management Act, 2001, which would set and enforce clear, consistent standards for nutrient management and help ensure our sources of drinking water are protected while supporting a competitive agricultural sector.

We passed legislation to protect the Oak Ridges Moraine, one of Ontario's most important ecological assets. This legislation will ensure the future protection of 100 per cent of the moraine's significant natural features and water resources. It also allows development in appropriate areas and sets out clear conditions for the moraine's protection and use. This brings the total amount of land we've protected since 1995 to more than three million hectares - or four million football fields!

In June we passed the Stability and Excellence in Education Act. Ontario students in grades 3, 6, 9 and 10 now write standardized tests in reading, writing and mathematics. With the new system, parents will better understand how well their children are achieving with the new curricula. Test results will also help teachers identify where they need to provide extra help.
We have passed the Quality in the Classroom Act to further develop our program for teacher testing. We want to make sure that all Ontario teachers have the knowledge and skills necessary to help students reach their full potential.

In November, we asked every parent in the province how to improve our education system in our first annual parent survey on education. To complement this initiative, we will conduct a focused telephone survey this winter.

Health care continues to be a dominant issue for Canadians. Against this backdrop, the federal government has failed to keep its health-care promise to the people of Canada. In its recent budget, the federal government spent billions in many areas, yet failed to commit a single penny of new funding for health care. Unlike the federal Liberals we are taking numerous steps to ensure health access for all Ontario families. Some of our recent initiatives include: increasing enrolment in medical schools by 30 per cent, compared with 1999 levels, expanding our training program for doctors who are educated abroad and launching a program to assess foreign-trained doctors and enable them to practice in Ontario. We are creating a made-in-Northern-Ontario medical school - the first new medical school in Ontario in 30 years. And we're creating two new Rural and Regional Training Networks in southwestern and south-central Ontario. To ensure that Ontario families have access to professional health advice and information 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we have expanded Telehealth Ontario, a service we began in 1999, to every community across Ontario, just as we promised. Now, parents who wake up in the middle of the night with a sick child can speak to a registered nurse - any day, any time.

At the end of the fall session Premier Harris announced the landmark privatization of Hydro One, the transmission and distribution successor company of Ontario Hydro, fulfilling a promise to encourage investment in Ontario and increase efficiency in the energy sector.
The old Hydro monopoly left a legacy of $21 billion in "stranded debt." That debt needs to be paid down. We have committed that all proceeds from the sale will remain in the electricity sector and will accelerate the pay down of that stranded debt. The government is committed to an open market, while guaranteeing a safe, affordable and reliable supply of electricity to Ontarians.

We have made great progress fulfilling our commitments to Ontarians, but we know there is more to do. We will continue to keep our promises and keep Ontario on the right track, so that we can protect the gains of the past and prepare Ontario for the challenges of tomorrow and continue to fight for the interests of hard-working Ontario families like yours.




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