Candice Malcolm on Ontario's Throne Speech
TORONTO — A transit funding revenue tool, more home care and trade missions around the world — they’re all in the Ontario throne speech.
There also appears to be a subtle shift away from a previous emphasis on wind and solar energy.
Instead, the speech focuses on creating jobs through the development of energy conservation technology, although it retains the Liberal government’s goal to end the use of coal-fired electricity.
New Premier Kathleen Wynne is promising that Ontarians will have strong input into all the difficult decisions facing their communities.
“They must have a voice in their future and a say in their integrated, regional development,” the speech says. “So that local populations are involved from the beginning if there is going to be a gas plant or a casino or a wind plant or a quarry in their hometown. Because our economy can benefit from these things but only if we have willing hosts.”
There’s an added promise to create a premier’s youth advisory council and to expand French language post-secondary programs in central and southwestern Ontario.
In northern Ontario, the government is committed to improving transportation infrastructure to access the Ring of Fire mining area.
While in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area, Wynne is vowing to tackle gridlock through improved transit and roads — with a price tag attached.
Wynne said the time has come to discuss with the public how to pay for these projects.
As for the thorny subject of public sector labour relations — there was considerable strain between the previous administration and teachers — the throne speech commits the government to creating a “better process” to ensure everyone involved is treated with respect.
The Ontario government also calls for “tools and training” for Aboriginal communities to more fully participate and benefit from mining projects and other economic development initiatives.
Wynne’s government is planning “visits” to India, China, eastern Europe, the Middle East and South America, the throne speech says.
Although the speech calls for a new collaborative approach with opposition parties, Ontario Tories announced Tuesday that they would be pursuing a contempt motion against the Wynne government over gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga that cost taxpayers at least $230 million in cancellation costs.
NDP MPP Gilles Bisson said he believes the three parties can work together to address the contempt issue through a government committee without bogging down the legislature, which returns Wednesday, in time-eating debate.