By MPP Toby Barrett
The year 2019 dawned with a six-month old majority government and an administration setting the stage for more accountable ways of conducting business.
Since 2018, much has been accomplished but there is more to do. As a province, our potential is limitless. We are blessed with an abundance of natural resources and smart, hardworking people.
Throughout 2019, we have been aggressive in cutting red tape, cutting costs for businesses, decreasing barriers across municipal and provincial jurisdictions, and increasing business access to government investment.
Also on the slate was social service reform to encourage employment, restore people’s dignity, and empower the vulnerable to break free from poverty. These reforms offer a multi-ministry approach to cut unnecessary rules and support self-reliance.
Ontario committed to establish 15,000 Long-Term-Care (LTC) beds within a five-year period and 30,000 in 10 years. So far 6,075 LTC beds have been created – with a number slated for our riding.
An issue concerning all rural residents is access to natural gas. The government has acted to expand access to families and businesses throughout rural and Northern Ontario thanks to an innovative partnership with local communities and the private sector.
One order of business in 2019 was to cancel the job-killing cap-and-trade carbon tax. This provided an annual savings to each household of approximately $260, and overall business savings of $880 million a year. That was reversed on April 1, when the federal government imposed its carbon tax on Ontario.
Ontario now has the most progressive income tax credit for low-income workers. In all, 1.1 million people will benefit, and minimum wage earners will pay no provincial personal income tax.
We continued to clean up the hydro mess. We cancelled 758 wasteful and expensive energy projects and eliminated the Green Energy Act.
April 11th marked the Ford Government’s first budget. In it, our government found $3.2 billion in savings and cancelled billions of dollars in tax hikes planned by the previous government.
Budget 2019 was dedicated to finding efficiencies in government, getting the best value for taxpayers, and making the most of every single tax dollar. People remain worried about out-of-control spending and electricity rates, keeping up with taxes, and keeping their jobs.
We also fulfilled the promise of a new dental program for seniors who are low income and lack benefits. This is now rolling out locally.
The new Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) tax credit supports families with incomes of up to $150,000 and helps them access a broader range of child care options – retroactive to January 1, 2019.
In addition, parents will see an investment of close to $1 billion over the next five years to create up to 30,000 child care spaces in Ontario’s schools.
Furthermore, over the next 10 years, $13 billion will be allocated to build new schools and update existing buildings.
The vision is one of getting back to basics, respecting parents, and working with teachers to ensure children have the skills they need to succeed.
Last winter, the Ontario government introduced The People’s Health Care Act, setting a vision for patient-centered community health care.
On the housing front, Bill 108 supports Ontario’s comprehensive Housing Supply Action Plan. More Homes, More Choice, is designed to transform Ontario’s housing development system.
… to be continued
Toby Barrett is MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk