On Thursday, November 29, 2007, the recently re-elected Liberal government, under Premier Dalton McGuinty, outlined the government’s key priorities for the coming term in a Speech from the Throne entitled "Moving Forward The Ontario Way".
Below is a summary of the key initiatives that will form the basis of the government’s next term in office.
The Government is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions ("GHG") by 6% below the 1990 levels by the year 2020, and by 80% below by 2050. These targets will be met, in part, through the Integrated Power System Plan that calls for the investments in renewable generation, the phase-out of coal-fired electricity, and the modernization of the province’s nuclear power facilities.
The Government will introduce new toxic reduction legislation that would reduce pollution in water, land, air and consumer products. New legislation will also be developed to ban the cosmetic use of pesticides in Ontario’s cities and towns. Government will work with northern and First Nations communities in the far north to implement a plan that protects the boreal forest.
The Government is committed to a five point economic plan. This includes:
- Major investment in the education and skills of Ontarians.
- Keeping taxes competitive and phasing out of the capital tax.
- Supporting innovation through the new $165 million Ontario Venture Capital Fund.
- Accelerating public infrastructure investments, including the MoveOntario 2020 public transit expansion project.
- Forming partnerships in key sectors such as the Automotive Investment Strategy.
Government is also committed to working with the Manufacturing sector to support new and advanced technologies and initiatives, such as the Forest Sector Prosperity Fund.
Of key importance is the commitment to pressure the federal government to invest 1% of the Goods and Service Tax in Infrastructure and Public Transit.
Government will work with the Agricultural sector to deliver a Risk Management Program to assist grain and oilseed farmers to cope with internationally subsidized competitors and, increase support for the Rural Economic Development Fund by 50%. Support will also continue to the Supply Management sector.
The Premier has formed a Committee of Cabinet to be chaired by Deborah Matthews, the Minister of Children and Youth Services. Other key members of the "Anti-Poverty Committee" include Minister of Finance Duncan, Health and Long-Term Care Minister Smitherman, Education Minister Wynne, Attorney General Bentley, Citizenship Minister Chan, Municipal Affairs Minister Watson, and University and Colleges Minister Milloy. This Committee’s mandate is to determine poverty indicators and targets and to develop a focused strategy for making progress on reducing child poverty.
Public Education and Health Care:
The Government will strive to ensure more students meet the provincial standards in writing, reading and mathematics, and work to phase-in full-time Junior and Senior Kindergarten. Government will also improve the current education funding formula by investing an additional $3.1 billion annually by 2011.
A new comprehensive Diabetes Strategy will be introduced that will see new legislation to ban trans fats from all school cafeterias and prescribe a healthier menu for students.
Programs will continue to reduce wait times and to hire an additional 9,000 nurses, while guaranteeing new nursing graduates jobs and a healthy and safe working environment.
Improving Relations with First Nations:
The government is seeking to forge a better, more positive relationship with First Nations communities. The main vehicle for improvement will be to move forward with the recommendations of the Ipperwash Inquiry. In addition, the Government of Ontario will work closely with the Federal Government to resolve land claim issues and seek partnerships with First Nations communities to improve the economic welfare for all First Nations on and off the reserve.