The Top Line
This morning, Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell delivered the Speech from the Throne for the second session of the 42nd Parliament, identifying the agenda of Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative Government of Ontario as it enters into the final months of its current mandate. The next election is scheduled for June 2, 2022.
Premier Ford had clearly outlined his Government’s focus and pre-election positioning with a weekend op-ed in The Toronto Sun: “With more and more Ontarians stepping up to get vaccinated, we can begin to turn our attention to the future. We were elected on a promise of ending hallway health care and rebuilding a long-neglected long-term care system. And while that work had begun before COVID-19, the pandemic exposed and exasperated the cracks that had been building after decades of inaction by successive governments…”
“Ontarians can rest assured, our path to recovery will be fueled by economic growth rather than painful tax hikes or spending cuts. As soon as this pandemic is firmly behind us, we are going to get our economy firing on all cylinders.”
The Throne Speech continued to emphasize the Government’s commitment to eliminating “hallway health care” through new investments, while avoiding tax hikes.
Overall, the speech was thin on new promises while offering a recap of the Ford Government’s record. This is a clear indication that the Government is not taking for granted that the pandemic is concluded and that its work during the pandemic will be the foundation of the re-election bid.
The 20-minute speech was titled “Protecting Ontario’s Progress” and outlined four main themes: pandemic recovery, health and long-term care investments, economic recovery, and Indigenous reconciliation.
The speech celebrated that, “Ontario has pursued the most cautious re-opening in Canada” and made clear that the Government’s top priority is continuing to fight the COVID-19 pandemic while protecting the progress made.
The Government highlighted the introduction of vaccination certificates but stated clearly that they are temporary and will be lifted when direction is provided by the Chief Medical Officer of Health. This was a quiet nod to businesses that have been upset and impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. To further appease Ontario’s business community the government indicated that should additional public health measures be needed these “will be localized and targeted.”
In a prelude to the 2022 provincial election, the Government touted its investments in health care. Specifically, the Speech mentioned $2.68 billion to build new long-term care home beds over the next decade, and adding 16,200 personal support workers to the health care system by April 2022.
The Speech noted that Ontario has joined other provinces in demanding an increase in provincial health care transfers from the Federal Government to 35% of the total health care budget.
With an Economic Statement expected in November 2021 and a Budget to be presented next Spring, the Speech made it clear that Ontario should expect a focus on economic growth and not expect “painful tax hikes or spending cuts,” hinting that the Government will continue to be cautious but frugal.
NDP Leader, Andrea Horwath immediately blasted the Throne Speech for what was not included. She stated that this was an opportunity to “help people,” and continued that the Government “refused to take any new action to help patients, students, workers, or small business.”
Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said “It’s shocking that we had to wait so long to hear so little.” He described the speech as “nothing but empty rhetoric.” He further made a point that there was not one mention of education, something that the Liberals have prioritized.
What This Means for You
More of the same.
“Protecting Ontario’s Progress” was a recap of the Government’s work during the past 18 months, and the Premier’s intent to focus on combatting COVID-19 while renewing the economy and avoiding tax increases. At the same time, the Government was clear that Ontarians cannot be lulled into a false sense of security. TSAers are ready to assist you in helping to navigate through the final months of the current Ontario Government’s mandate.
TSAers are ready to assist you in helping to navigate through the final months of the current Ontario Government’s mandate.