Ontario’s new provincial government has hit the ground running, calling back the legislature for a summer session that began on July 11, 2018, just 35 days after winning the election and just 12 days after the Premier and cabinet’s swearing in ceremony.
On July 12, the Lieutenant Governor delivered the Throne Speech to open the first session of the 42nd Parliament of Ontario and to outline the new government’s initial policy priorities. The health care priorities outlined in the speech are recommitments, having been announced through the election period.
Plans for long term stable funding for health care include:
- 15,000 new long-term care beds over the next five years.
- $3.8-billion investment in mental health and addictions, including supportive housing.
- Increasing supports for families and parents of children with autism.
Other items mentioned in the speech include:
- Reduce gas prices, however no exact details were included on how this will be accomplished.
- Lower hydro bills.
- Tax relief to parents, small businesses and working poor.
- Scrapping cap-and-trade and opposing other carbon tax schemes in all of their forms.
- Launching a Commission of Inquiry into the financial practices of government to identify ways to restore accountability and trust in Ontario’s public finances.
- Returning Ontario to a balanced budget on a timetable that is responsible, modest and pragmatic.
- Replacing “failed ideological experiments” in the classroom including scrapping ‘Discovery Math’ curricula and replacing the current sex-education curriculum.
- Honouring the Canadian heroes of war in Afghanistan by building a new monument and creating a dedicated hotline to provide assistance to military families in Canada.
- Freeing Ontario’s Police Services from “onerous restrictions that treat those in uniform as subjects of suspicion and scorn,” by giving them the tools, support and resources to enforce the law and protect innocent families from the menace of drug, gun and gang related violence.
- Expand sale of beer and wine to convenience stores, grocery stores and big box stores.
As was hinted by government House Leader Todd Smith, the speech also included plans to dedicate the summer sitting to end the strike at York University, repeal legislation that enables the cap-and-trade program and cancel a locally-contested wind energy project in Prince Edward County.
Members of the legislature also voted on July 11 to elect the Speaker of the House, choosing veteran PC MPP Ted Arnott, a 28-year member from the riding of Wellington-Halton Hills.