Budget 2014 - Building Opportunity, Securing Our Future

Read the 2014 Ontario Budget Speech

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present the 2014 Ontario Budget.

Before I begin, I want to thank my colleagues in the house ...

As well as the hard-working public servants at the Ministry of Finance ...

And Ontarians themselves ...

For all they have done to help bring this Budget forward, today ...

To this chamber.

This is a Budget for Ontarians ...

By Ontarians ...

For a strong Ontario ...

With more jobs ...

More opportunity ...

And a more secure future.

This is a Budget, Mr. Speaker ... that looks not only at the days ahead ... but at the decade ahead ...

And lays out a plan ... one firmly founded on the needs and desires and dreams of Ontarians ...

To continue to build Ontario over the next 10 years ...

Beginning today.

Mr. Speaker, like all members of this house, I got my start outside the Legislature.

My early years were in Kensington Market...

I grew up in a small business environment ...

My dad was a local wholesaler ...

He had a knack for making a sale ... seeing an opportunity ... and seizing it.

To provide us ... his kids ... with a more secure future.

He wasn’t alone ...

There were other small business owners in the neighbourhood ... just like my dad ...

Each trying to make a living ...

To provide for their families.

While looking out for others.

I learned a lot from being around these Kings of Kensington...

They were the business leaders of the day — men and women changing the world to provide for their families.

They learned the art of business ... by living it ...

They were competitive ... but they were also compassionate.

Those street smarts of yesterday have helped prepare me for today.

So, Mr. Speaker, our 2014 Budget is about competitiveness and compassion.

Opportunity and security.

Investing today ... for a better tomorrow.

It is a plan that is balanced ...

Shaped by experienced hands ...

And a government ... that works to build a more prosperous Ontario today and for tomorrow.

Building Opportunity, Securing Our Future

Mr. Speaker, our government’s plan is threefold.

We will create jobs and grow the economy by investing in our people.

We will build modern infrastructure.

We will support a dynamic and innovative business climate.

Executing this plan will take determination, because it won’t be easy.

It will take vision, because it is not going to happen overnight.

And it will take all Ontarians, working together, led by a determined government.

So Mr. Speaker ... we will do our part.

We will make the right investments.

We will invest in those things ... and only those things ... that strengthen our competitive advantage, create jobs and provide vital public services for our families.

We will stick to our plan to balance the budget by 2017–18.

Our government is making Ontario’s schools and hospitals among the best in the world.

We will continue to make the investments necessary to strengthen them because they are a top priority.

And our collective energy, talent and resources as a government will continue to be spent creating opportunity and jobs.

That includes strategic investments in our schools and in our hospitals ...

Our social services ...

And of course ... transit, roads, bridges, highways and other important infrastructure throughout the province.

As part of this plan, our government also recognizes the need for appropriate restraint. It will not go down the road of reckless across-the-board cuts to programs and services.

Where expenses can be cut, we will cut them.

Where services can be provided more efficiently, we will do so.

But what we will not do is sacrifice important public services.

Mr. Speaker, that is not the Ontario way.

Nor has it been ... nor will it ever be ... our government’s way.


Mr. Speaker, Ontarians share strong values.

We are competitive as well as compassionate.

Fair as well as responsible.

We believe — not just in building a tolerant society, but in something bigger: we believe in building a fair society.

A society that rewards effort with opportunity.

So when we look to government, we look for leadership that embodies those values.

And we reject leadership that does not.

Some believe they can deliver strong health care and education, by recklessly spending and increasing taxes that would undermine our economy.

Others think they can create a strong economy through reckless across-the-board cuts that would undermine health care and education.

Ontarians know that we need balance.

Only this government will keep health care and education strong while building a stronger economy — because we know you can’t have strong public services without a strong economy, and you can’t have a strong economy without strong public services.

Mr. Speaker, this leads to a strong quality of life, which leads to an even stronger economy.

Ontario’s Decade: A 10-Year Jobs and Economic Plan

Mr. Speaker, the global recession is behind us.

But its effects remain with us.

Today, our economy is growing ... but not as quickly as projected ...

It’s creating jobs ... but we want more ...

That is why it will take steady hands ...

And a balanced approach to ensure that there is opportunity for every Ontarian today.

This is not the time for radical or reckless ideas as brought forward by others.

A Stronger, Growing Economy

Over the next four years, the private sector is forecasting economic growth in Ontario to more than double, from 1.3 per cent to 2.7 per cent by 2017.

Since the recessionary low in June 2009, Ontario has created more than 450,000 net new jobs.

And last year alone, Ontario employment increased by 96,000 jobs.

Ontario’s unemployment rate has declined to 7.3 per cent, well below the recessionary high of 9.4 per cent.

Global economic growth is set to improve in 2014, particularly in the United States.

Economists say that Ontario is well positioned for continued economic growth over the next 10 years.

Our investments ... in skills and knowledge ... in infrastructure ... and in business will support even higher growth.

Emerging markets also continue to grow, as they benefit from stronger global demand.

This will also benefit Ontario ...

And Mr. Speaker, the global economy is changing.

We have entered a new economy, a new industrial age.

If we want to make Ontario a global powerhouse ...

It will take more than the simplistic solutions and sound-bite economics as peddled by some.

A complex global economy demands that we adapt ... to seize new opportunities for Ontario families.

It means we need to change ... to create new jobs for Ontario workers.

It requires strong leadership ...

That brings all Ontarians ...

Of all regions ...

Of all walks of life ...

Of all families and backgrounds ... together.

A Jobs Plan

It starts, Mr. Speaker, as it must ... with jobs.

In our new global economy, there is fierce global competition for the investments that support job creation.

Ontario has built a reputation as a hub for global business.

It is ranked third in North America for foreign direct investment.

Our government has turned Ontario’s business tax system into one of the most competitive internationally.

Since 2009, the marginal effective tax rate on new business investment has been cut in half.

This makes Ontario an even more attractive place for business investment.

We are one of the most diversified economies in North America.

And as part of that we will continue to support our key sectors ... businesses, both small and large ... including ...

Aerospace ...

Agri-food ...

Auto ...

Clean tech...

Financial services ...

Information and communications technology ...

Mining ...

And the entertainment and creative cluster.

For example, Mr. Speaker, the global aerospace sector is poised to grow significantly over the next 20 years ...

Our government is working to ensure that Ontario is ready to compete ...

We’re supporting Centennial College as it partners with the private sector to train the next generation of aerospace workers.

This will ensure we have new and highly skilled graduates to help this sector grow.

Mr. Speaker, we are partnering with Communitech, a hub in the Waterloo Region, that helps with the commercialization of innovative technologies.

This partnership will help create 7,000 new jobs in the high-tech sector.

Along with enhanced GO Transit service in the region, we are supporting good-paying jobs in this high-tech area and helping to create thousands of spinoff jobs.

Mr. Speaker, going forward, to help secure new investments, we are creating a new $2.5 billion Jobs and Prosperity Fund.

This 10-year fund will help Ontario attract investment in new and growing sectors.

Firms look to Ontario because of our advantages ...

Including a highly skilled labour force and world-class infrastructure.

This fund will help attract new strategic investments from around the world ...

Mr. Speaker, if we’re in a global competition, we have to compete to win.

We will seek out new opportunities to secure anchor investments to create good-paying jobs, here at home.

Lowering Energy Costs for Business

Mr. Speaker, we also need to make sure our businesses have the resources they need to continue investing in growth.

When I started my own small business, I would wake up at night thinking about how to grow the company ...

How to pay the rent ... and make payroll.

And I know a lot of small business owners feel that way.

That’s why we are introducing a new five-point business energy savings plan to give small businesses the tools they need to conserve energy, manage costs and save money.

We will also help larger businesses that use the most energy to dramatically reduce their electricity costs on new projects.

These changes mean that for new or expanding businesses, Ontario’s electricity prices will be more competitive with those of our neighbours.

And that will mean Ontario companies can create new jobs ... and hire more people.

Investing in Transportation and Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, Ontario has outpaced its infrastructure for decades.

Governments of all political stripes failed to make the necessary investments to unclog our highways, to give commuters more public transit options, and to ensure that our just-in-time economy runs on time.

Mr. Speaker, for the past 30 years, I have commuted from my home in Mississauga to work ...

And like so many others ... on jammed highways and trains ...

I experience the congestion.

While we have made major investments to improve public transit, there is much more to do.

We’ve built wider highways ... dedicated commuter lanes ... and better bridges.

We’ve added more GO trains ... with more cars ... and a service guarantee.

Now we need to position our province for the future.

The time has come for a plan that will improve not only the lives of Ontarians today, but the lives of our children and grandchildren tomorrow.

We need to do more than just plan for what’s around the corner, but also for what’s down the road.

Not just to widen the street enough to make things a little easier now, but to think in far-reaching ways that will make things better for years to come.

It’s time we shook off the timid approach of the past and embrace a bold new future for Ontario.

One that’s rational and informed.

Not one dictated by simplistic and short-term thinking, but one that actually gets goods and people moving more quickly and safely.

Moving Ontario Forward — Dedicated Transportation Funds

Premier Kathleen Wynne has announced a bold new plan — Moving Ontario Forward — that would dedicate two new funds to fight congestion and invest in roads, bridges and transit totalling $29 billion.

The first would help address congestion in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area or GTHA.

The second fund would invest in roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure across the rest of the province.

Mr. Speaker, we will take the best advice of experts ...

And take the politics out of planning.

Because whether you live in Caledon or Clarington ...

Windsor or Wawa ...

Or anyplace in between or beyond ...

It’s time for a long-term public works plan ... that actually works for the public.

And only this government is committed to such a plan ...

Mr. Speaker, our investments will help our businesses get their goods to market faster.

It means they can grow their business and hire more people.

It will help Ontarians get to work, home or school more quickly ...

And will be an immediate boost to jobs and economic growth.

And we will do this without raising taxes on gasoline, the Harmonized Sales Tax, education property taxes, or personal income taxes on low- to middle-income individuals, nor will we raise general corporate taxes, which would be extremely risky to our economy.

With interest rates at historic lows, our infrastructure needing investment, and the economy needing a boost, this is the opportune time to make these investments.

Mr. Speaker, that is why we are investing over $130 billion in total in infrastructure over the next 10 years.

Whether it’s a light rail transit line in Ottawa...

Or the expansion of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay ...

Or a new hospital in London ...

Or roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects throughout the province.

Mr. Speaker, this means an even better quality of life for our families.

Unlocking Value from Government Assets

Mr. Speaker, there are some things we are doing now that we will no longer do.

Government does not need to be a passive investor or a landlord.

While it made sense at the time to invest in General Motors (GM) to protect an important industry and safeguard good jobs ...

Owning shares of this company is no longer necessary.

By selling Ontario’s shares of GM, we can reinvest taxpayer money into the proposed Trillium Trust that would be dedicated to new infrastructure projects that create more jobs.

We will also look at maximizing and unlocking value from other government assets, including real estate as well as Crown corporations such as Ontario Power Generation, Hydro One and the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.

That doesn’t necessarily mean we will sell them, Mr. Speaker.

Unlocking the full value of these assets will include improving efficiency and enhancing their performance.

We will sweat their income statements.

We owe it to all Ontarians to extract more value for them as taxpayers.

And we will do this using experts.

The Council conducting the review will be led by retiring Group President and CEO of TD Bank Group, Mr. Ed Clark.

Mr. Speaker, the increased revenues from this review will also help support key infrastructure projects.

By reinvesting these funds, we will be creating jobs and building a stronger future.

Securing Ontarians’ Retirement

Mr. Speaker, to help Ontarians — especially middle-class Ontarians — be more secure in their retirement, our government is introducing the first-of-its-kind mandatory provincial pension plan to build on the Canada Pension Plan ... or CPP.

Mr. Speaker, we have a duty and must do more to ensure that people have adequate savings in their retirement years.

After a lifetime of work and a lifetime of contributing to the economy, retired Ontarians deserve better than to face plunging standards of living.

Middle-class Canadians know that the current CPP isn’t adequate for their retirement.

They understand the numbers and can see the gap between what they have and what they need.

You can’t have a middle-class life on less than $12,500 of pension income.

But the federal government refuses to acknowledge what Canadians — and its own experts — are telling them.

The federal government argues that now is not the right time for a CPP enhancement.

Mr. Speaker, if not now, then when?

The analysis done so far — including by Canada’s Department of Finance — shows that a CPP enhancement will have economic benefits by growing the economy and creating jobs.

And a new report, prepared by former Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge, says that enhancing retirement savings now is the right thing to do.

And that the effects on the economy in the short run are small relative to the longer-run economic benefits.

Mr. Speaker, higher retirement savings would make more capital available for investment in the economy.

And as governments look to address the national infrastructure deficit ...

This can be a useful source of funding to promote more investments ... that will help enhance productivity.

Increasing savings now means a stronger economy through pension plan investments ...

And ultimately, more jobs in the future ...

As well as higher disposable income for future retirees ... which means less reliance on social programs that are funded by taxpayers.

We must think long term ... for future generations.

Federal inaction on this important issue is unacceptable — not just politically, but personally.

Mr. Speaker ... like so many others here, I have elderly parents.

Like two-thirds of today’s Ontarians, my parents didn’t have workplace pensions.

They were able to save to protect their future ... but many today are not saving adequately for retirement.

Unless we take action, future generations of retirees will be left with a lower standard of living.

Because the basic structure of the Canada Pension Plan has essentially not changed since 1966, when it was introduced.

For today’s workers, the maximum annual benefit of $12,500 is not enough ... especially for the middle class.

So, Mr. Speaker, since the federal government won’t lead, Ontario will lead by developing a “made-in-Ontario” solution.

Our plan would build on the strengths of the CPP ...

And would enhance benefits for middle-income earners while keeping contribution rates low.

It would provide a predictable stream of income in retirement by pooling longevity and investment risk while indexing benefits to inflation.

The plan would aim for a replacement rate of 15 per cent of an individual’s earnings, up to a maximum annual earnings threshold of $90,000 ...

And require equal contributions shared between employers and employees not exceeding 1.9 per cent each.

Mr. Speaker, when combined with the retirement benefit provided through the CPP, an individual with steady career earnings over 40 years of $90,000 could replace about 30 per cent of pre-retirement income ...

And could receive an annual lifetime benefit of about $25,000 — roughly doubling the retirement benefit he or she would receive under the CPP alone.

The Ontario Retirement Pension Plan would be publicly administered at arm’s length from government ...

It would have a strong governance model and, with expert advice, be responsible for managing investments.

Benefits would be earned as contributions are made to ensure that the system is fair, and younger generations would not be burdened with additional costs.

Mr. Speaker, those already participating in a comparable workplace pension plan would not be required to enrol ...

And to reduce the burden on lower-income workers, earnings below a certain threshold would be exempt from contributions, similar to the CPP.

Our plan would be introduced in 2017 and coincide with the expected reductions in Employment Insurance premiums, and contributions would be phased in over two years, starting with the largest employers.

Mr. Speaker, I’d like to thank the Right Honourable Paul Martin for his insights as we developed this plan.

As well as the expertise provided to us by the Technical Advisory Group on Retirement Income.

And I would hope, Mr. Speaker, that our plan would have the full support of all the members of this house.

Ontario will continue to engage with other provinces and territories and encourage them to join our plan.

And we will continue to encourage the federal government to do the right thing, and enhance the CPP, which is still our preferred option.

In order to offer more voluntary savings options and promote more benefit choices ...

We will introduce legislation for pooled registered pension plans in the fall of 2014 that would harmonize with those being adopted across the country.

Lowering Energy Costs

Mr. Speaker, we know energy costs have gone up and that this is a concern for people and business.

Costs went up because of the critical infrastructure investments that had to be made after years of neglect ...

Investments in generation, transmission and distribution systems are helping to ensure that when the lights go on, they stay on.

Mr. Speaker, we have listened to the people of Ontario and, through our recent actions, we have reduced what people would have otherwise paid for electricity by about $520 over the next five years.

As part of our plan to further help reduce electricity costs, we will remove the Debt Retirement Charge from residential users’ electricity bills, after December 31, 2015.

This will save a typical residential user an additional $70 per year, Mr. Speaker.

And we will enhance current programs to further help those most in need.

Fostering a Fair Society

Mr. Speaker, 60 years ago my parents came to this country for the opportunity that it brought.

They could start their own small business ... and provide a more secure future for their children.

But it went further than that.

Like many new Canadians, they were grateful and wanted to give back ... especially to others who needed support.

And I’m here today because I think it is the job of government to provide the ladder and a steady hand to help people climb up and achieve their full potential.

Beginning in July 2014, we are increasing the maximum annual Ontario Child Benefit (OCB) per child to $1,310, enhancing the incomes of half-a-million families.

As part of our plan to ensure that all Ontarians have the opportunity to succeed, and share in the benefits of a strong economy, we will also propose to index the OCB to inflation.

Mr. Speaker, it is expected that the number of seniors in Ontario will almost double over the next two decades.

As part of this Budget, we are making it easier for seniors to stay safe, active and engaged in their communities by doubling the size of the new Seniors Community Grant Program.

This program helps seniors continue their learning in areas like technology and develop a stronger sense of social inclusion.

And Mr. Speaker, improved economic opportunities are essential to ensuring that Aboriginal people can work and thrive.

In this Budget, we are introducing a new Aboriginal Economic Development Fund, which will include an investment of $25 million.

The fund will support Aboriginal communities in the development of long-term economic strategies, and provide grants for Aboriginal businesses and fund regional skills-training programs.

Mr. Speaker, we are also expanding low-income health benefits for children and increasing social assistance benefits.

And to help our youngest, we are expanding the Student Nutrition Program so that more children in school have access to a healthy, balanced breakfast to start their day.

Our government has also made changes to the tax system to help low- to moderate-income people with their expenses.

We have enhanced property and sales tax credits ...

And combined the payment of credits into the Ontario Trillium Benefit.

Mr. Speaker, our Province has a progressive Personal Income Tax structure where higher tax rates apply as taxable income increases.

To continue funding programs in a fair and balanced way, the Province proposes that those with the greatest ability to pay contribute more through their taxes.

In this Budget, we are proposing further tax changes that would affect only the top two per cent of Ontario tax filers — those individuals with taxable incomes over $150,000.

We propose that, beginning in January 2014, the taxable income threshold for the top tax rate be lowered to $220,000, and a new one percentage point higher tax rate for incomes between $150,000 and $220,000 be introduced.

Ninety-eight per cent of tax filers in Ontario would see no change in their taxes as a result of these changes.

Mr. Speaker, this Budget will contain measures to help all Ontarians.

Including francophone Ontarians.

Measures that provide opportunities ... and celebrate culture by commemorating 400 years of francophone presence in Ontario.

And we also have to be fair.

We now have more Early Childhood Educators ...

We have more people accessing developmental services ...

And we’ve invested heavily in home care ...

Which has expanded the need for Personal Support Workers in Ontario...

The people doing these jobs are critically important.

In this Budget, we are investing in them.

To ensure that those who care for our children, our elderly and our most vulnerable will be properly supported in return.

Fairness from the Federal Government

Mr. Speaker, Ontario is keeping its fiscal house in order.

We have carefully managed costs ... and taken action to create jobs and grow our economy.

And yet actions by the federal government have put all of our shared progress at risk.

Since 2006, the federal government has taken more than 110 unilateral actions that have hurt people and businesses across Ontario.

In addition, each year, the share of federal revenue raised in Ontario is higher than the share of federal spending in Ontario.

This has created a huge $11 billion gap between what Ontarians pay versus what we receive in public services.

While this money could be used in Ontario to fund more hospitals, nurses or public transit, it is redistributed to other regions of Canada to subsidize programs and services that Ontarians themselves may not enjoy.

Mr. Speaker, no province is a more staunch supporter of Canadian federalism than Ontario, but this support cannot be taken for granted.

Our economy needs a boost, and we have a federal government that is doing more to hurt than help.

In 2014–15, our province will experience a year-over-year decline of $641 million in major transfers.

Over the last four years, the federal government paid a total of $2.2 billion to other provinces to specifically prevent their transfers from falling.

This year, when Ontario was the only province facing a decline, the federal government ended the practice of transfer protection payments.

Mr. Speaker, that’s not all.

The federal government also unilaterally changed the growth rate of the Canada Health Transfer, beginning in 2017–18.

This will remove an estimated $8 billion in support for health care in Ontario by 2023–24, and place an even greater burden on the Province in meeting health care needs.

As confirmed by the federal Parliamentary Budget Officer, this transferring of fiscal burden creates a fiscally sustainable federal government, but fiscally unsustainable provinces and territories.

So, Mr. Speaker, Ontarians call on the federal government to ...

Treat Ontarians the same way it treats residents of all other provinces and territories.

Stop the $641 million decline in major transfers.

Stop unilateral actions that hurt our public services.

And start partnering with us to fund important infrastructure projects, including development in the Ring of Fire area.

We plan to invest $1 billion in this project, but need the federal government as an equal partner.

Responsible Fiscal Management

Mr. Speaker, I also learned at home the value of a dollar.

Nothing in our family went to waste.

We didn’t spend for the sake of spending.

We made choices ...

Just like government must.

And, in fact, once again, we are projecting to beat our deficit target by over $400 million.

The 2013–14 deficit is now projected to be $11.3 billion.

Mr. Speaker, our government is on track to beat the deficit target for the fifth year in a row.

This means Ontario’s debt is more than $24 billion lower than originally projected.

At the same time, we have continued to invest in key public services.

Mr. Speaker, we must continue to apply the same discipline and dedication moving forward.

Since 2010, the global economy has not been as robust as experts projected.

And federal funding cuts have hurt our province.

That means that, this year, if we don’t take the measures outlined in our Budget ...

Ontario’s revenues would be $3.5 billion less than projected just last year.

Mr. Speaker, we took action.

We cut expenses.

And made priority investments in growing the economy.

Thanks to prudent management of spending ...

And working together ...

With our public-sector partners ...

Ontario runs the leanest government in Canada.

We are now moving forward with more than 80 per cent of Don Drummond’s recommendations on creating efficiencies in the public sector.

As a result, we continue to have the lowest per-capita spending of any province ...

And we’re surpassing expectations of savings in the system ... more than ever imagined.

And we will continue to make key investments in the economy and public services.

As noted in the Fall Economic Statement, the government will not jeopardize jobs and public services to meet short-term targets.

With slower revenue growth and federal cuts to transfers, the Province will be adjusting deficit targets in the short term while balancing by 2017–18.

The higher short-term deficits will allow the government to immediately strengthen the economy today and make the investments necessary to grow the economy for tomorrow.

But let me be clear: we will balance the budget by 2017–18.

We will invest where we must.

We will cut expenses where we can.

Mr. Speaker, the government rejects the reckless cuts advocated by some ...

While at the same time rejecting the risky inexperience of others.

Our government will instead continue to carefully review spending to determine which programs should be enhanced or reduced, while transforming public services to improve efficiencies and outcomes.

We will continue to maintain our target of reducing Ontario’s net debt-to-GDP ratio to its pre-recession level of 27 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, we will look for new revenues where it makes sense.

The Ontario small business deduction is intended to provide tax relief to small businesses ...

Savings they can use to reinvest in the growth of their business.

However, currently, businesses, large or small, can get this lower corporate income tax rate on their first $500,000 of income.

That just doesn’t make sense.

So, we are proposing to end this tax preference for businesses with more than $10 million in taxable capital employed in Canada.

This would bring an additional $50 million annually to the treasury that would be reinvested immediately back into transportation infrastructure.

Mr. Speaker, we are also taking action to improve Ontario’s fair and efficient tax system to ensure that everyone pays their fair share.

The government is working on an action plan to address the underground economy.

The plan will focus on increasing public awareness, coordinating enforcement activities and working with industry partners to encourage more businesses to operate according to the law.

Mr. Speaker, we are also working with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on enhancing compliance activities to address the underground economy.

As part of agreements signed last year on the underground economy and corporate tax avoidance, the CRA has been able to generate more than $200 million in additional tax revenues for Ontario in 2013–14.

Ensuring a Low-Cost Government

Mr. Speaker, Ontario’s public servants are among the most professional ...

And dedicated ...

And talented ... in the world.

Together we are rooting out waste, focusing on priorities and making sure that every dollar spent, counts.

But there is more to do, Mr. Speaker.

That’s why we will continue to review expenses through a special Treasury Board subcommittee.

We are introducing a new annual program review savings target of $250 million for 2014–15 and $500 million for each of the next two years.

This target will focus on maintaining or enhancing the delivery of public services while reducing costs that are not essential to delivering services.

And, Mr. Speaker, we are also proposing to control the compensation of senior executives in the broader public sector.

Proposed legislation would allow us to establish compensation frameworks, including the use of sector-specific hard caps.

We have also introduced legislation to continue the salary freeze of Members of Provincial Parliament.

This began in 2009 and would not end until the budget is balanced.

We are also continuing to manage compensation and we will work with our partners to ensure that all costs are addressed within Ontario’s existing fiscal framework.

And, Mr. Speaker, we are continuing to make agencies more accountable to further ensure that costs are controlled across government.

Making every dollar count will produce an even more efficient government, which is a key component of our government’s 10-year Economic Plan.

Strong Public Services

Mr. Speaker, Ontario’s education system is the best in the English-speaking world.

Over the last 10 years, we’ve made vital investments that have laid a strong foundation.

Class sizes are smaller than they were a decade ago ...

More kids are graduating ...

And new programs help ensure that our students are better prepared to enter the workforce once they graduate.

Mr. Speaker, full-day kindergarten will be available to all children this fall and is one of the most transformative changes to the province’s school system in a generation.

Our renewed goals for education include achieving excellence, ensuring equity, promoting well-being and enhancing public confidence.

We will invest in new technology in the classroom to support improved student achievement ...

And by 2025, we will have an education system that seamlessly integrates learning from early years to adulthood.

Mr. Speaker, we are committed to a health care system that puts patients first and responds to their needs.

We are investing in health care services in the home and the community so more options are available to patients close to home and where they are most comfortable.

And we are investing more than $11 billion in major hospital expansions or redevelopment projects over the next 10 years.

This will support more than 40 projects currently underway or being planned.

Mr. Speaker, strong public services are vital to strong communities ... and a strong Ontario.

Strong Public Services

Mr. Speaker, the values that guide our government are the same as those shared by Ontarians themselves.

We know that Ontario is stronger when we are all working together, as one Ontario.

We know that when we look out for our neighbours and do what we can to help them along — we lift one another up.

And we know that to build a better quality of life for ourselves and our children and grandchildren, we must never stop moving forward ...

Looking ahead ...

And planning — not just for the times we live in — but for the decades to come.

Mr. Speaker ... we know that this next decade is one filled with opportunities to be seized ...

We know that with the right leadership ...

The right plan ...

And the experience to execute that plan ...

This decade could see us move confidently forward in the new global economy.

That’s why we will continue to be mindful of how we spend each dollar.

That’s why we will continue to be focused on eliminating the deficit.

That’s why we will make the necessary investments to grow our economy.

This is what Ontarians demand ...

And their government will deliver.

Mr. Speaker, our 10-year plan will help create a stronger Ontario.

It will build opportunities.

And secure our future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.