Today, Lieutenant-Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell opened the 2nd Session of the 41st Parliament of Ontario with a speech from the throne.
The speech was dedicated to outlining the government’s priorities for growing Ontario’s economy. Specifically, the Lieutenant-Governor indicated that the government will focus on:
- Enhancing child card
- Continuing to invest in education and help students achieve their full potential
- Investing in skills training that aligns with the job market “of today and tomorrow”
- Strengthening the healthcare system
- Investing in roads, transit and modern infrastructure
- Continuing to build a competitive business environment
- Continuing to play a leadership role to improve retirement income security
- Delivering additional relief on electricity bills
The highlight of the speech was the government’s pledge to no longer charge ratepayers the 8-per-cent provincial portion of the HST (harmonized sales tax) on their hydro bills. It is estimated that this will save the average household $130/ per year (plus an extra $45 per month for rural ratepayers). Though this will cost the provincial treasury approximately $1 billion a year, the government insists that 2017/18 budget will be balanced. The rebate (which will be established through legislation) would enter into effect on January 1st, 2017, if passed by the legislature.
Other highlights from the speech, include a promise to create 100,000 new child-care spaces over the next five years, ban day care wait list fees, and expand the eligibility of the Industrial Conservation Initiative for large electricity users.
All government legislation on the order paper when the house was prorogued on last Thursday will be reintroduced starting Tuesday. The opposition parties will have to agree which private members bill will be reintroduced.
Read the full speech here.