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Ontario's 2016 Speech from the Throne

Ontario's 2016 Speech from the Throne

Job creation and economic growth were identified as top priorities for the Government of Ontario in September 12th’s Speech from the Throne, which opened the 2nd session of the 41st Parliament. The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor, voiced the government’s ongoing commitment to build Ontario up, with several key priorities.

 
HST Rebate
Ontario continues to face electricity increases above the cost of inflation. Electricity bills will therefore be reduced, while maintaining reliability for consumers. New legislation will provide an electricity rebate equivalent to the provincial portion of HST on electricity bills. The 8% savings translates into about $130 annually for the average household in Ontario. The rebate will be in effect as of January 1, 2017 and is available to residential consumers and small businesses.
 
Eligible rural ratepayers will also receive additional relief, translating into average savings of $45 per month or $540 each year. The expansion of the Industrial Conservation Initiative will also benefit larger businesses.  
 
Infrastructure
Historic investments continue to be made in roads, bridges, and transit with a $160 billion investment over 12 years. Notably, 5,000 kilometres of highways will be built or repaved over the next 5 years and over 750 bridges will be built, rebuilt, or repaired. About 2,400 kilometres of these highway projects and 200 of these bridge projects will be located in Northern Ontario. The government will also continue its work with First Nations and other partners to provide greater access to both the Ring of Fire and remote First Nation communities.
 
New rapid transit systems are a focus in urban areas, with more than 350 kilometres to see investment over the next 10 years. This includes Light Rapid Transit systems in Waterloo, Hamilton, Mississauga, Ottawa, and Toronto. Additionally, Regional Express Rail will transform the GO system, bumping the number of weekly trips from 1,500 to 6,000 – a fourfold increase. Despite Ontario’s population growth, these investments will reduce emissions and provide a more efficient and enjoyable experience for commuters.
 
Job Creation and Economic Growth
Ontario’s economy has grown by 6.1% in the past two years. Last year’s growth was double the national average, and nearly 600,000 net new jobs have been created since the worst of the last recession. Nonetheless, challenges remain as “some have yet to share in Ontario’s resurgence.” Therefore, with continued economic growth and the promise of a balanced budget next year, the government will continue to build Ontario up by enhancing child care. In addition to the new spaces already in place, another 100,000 new affordable child care spaces will be created to help working families. The licensed infant and preschool child care spaces will be implemented beginning in 2017.
 
The Government also committed to making it easier for parents to find and use the services their children need, such as before and after school programs, drop-in care centres, and by making use of community hubs.
 
A new emphasis on math skills and experiential learning for high schools, as well as new campuses and renovated labs at the post-secondary level are part of the government’s plan to help young people access jobs in and contribute to today’s global economy.