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.
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.
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.
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.