Government Relations

Throne Speech sets the stage for a feisty legislative session

Lt. Governor David Onley reading the 2011 Ontario Throne Speech

Tuesday’s (November 22) Throne Speech sets the stage for a feisty legislative session ahead by vowing to implement the plan the Liberals campaigned on. It goes so far as to cite the “four-year mandate given to this Parliament” as evidence of the government’s intent to govern as if in a majority position. At the same time, the government’s priorities are set out against the backdrop of what the speech calls “significant global change, upheaval and uncertainty”, with the expectation that a slower pace of growth will continue throughout the government’s mandate.

The government remains committed to implementing signature promises such as full-day kindergarten and cutting post-secondary tuition by 30 per cent for middle class families effective January 1, 2012. The annual Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit will be introduced, although the speech doesn’t indicate timing for it. The government will also move forward with three new undergrad campuses and investments in infrastructure. All-day GO train service will proceed, as will pursuing clean energy and uploading municipal costs.

Despite calls by the NDP to end corporate income tax cuts, the speech indicates that business tax cuts remain part of a package of reforms to be enacted that includes the tuition cut and home renovation tax credit.

The government remains committed to balancing the budget by 2017/2018, and to reducing the public service. The speech cites significant fiscal challenges facing the government and promises that any new spending will be matched by cuts

It sums up by calling on the opposition parties to “devote themselves to a serious plan, and a common goal”.

Progressive Conservative (PC) Leader Tim Hudak has indicated he will not support the speech unless the government adopts amendments introducing a public sector wage freeze and reforming provincial apprenticeship ratios. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath stopped short of saying her party will oppose the Throne Speech, instead offering to work with the Liberal party and end the “political gamesmanship.”

Debate on the Throne Speech will continue in the Legislature today.

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