TORONTO, Ont. – In the speech from the throne, Ontario’s governing Liberals promised Tuesday to work collaboratively with the opposition to make the minority government work.
“Your government believes that if we can hope to serve Ontario, then we must act together as one,” said the speech delivered by Lieutenant-Governor David Onley.
“Your new government is committed to getting real work done on behalf of all the people of Ontario, and it calls upon members of the legislature to come together in support of that noble goal,” the speech said.
“There is common ground that transcends partisan politics, and it is found in the desire to make Ontario’s economy stronger; to improve its transportation networks and give all the people of this province the same opportunities, purpose and pride.”
Watch 680News political affairs specialist John Stall preview the throne speech
Premier Kathleen Wynne said the throne speech was designed to include ideas that would appeal to the opposition so not to plunge the province into an election.
“Hope springs eternal and I really believe that it’s possible for us to collectively recognize that there’s a lot of work to be done in the legislature,” she said.
Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said his party will not support the speech.
The Tories are also calling on the legislature to re-open the contentious decision to scrap gas plants in the Greater Toronto Area, which could again stall the legislature.
But Wynne is confident progress can be made.
“We’re going to find a way forward,” she said. “I have to believe that because I believe that everyone who’s been sent here by their communities is hearing the same concerns that I’m hearing.”
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she he will support the throne speech, so the government will survive for now. However, she said if she does not see her list of demands in the spring budget, she will vote against it.
The Liberals’ throne speech promised to pay down the province’s $12-billion deficit.
They said they will keep a close eye on corporate taxes, work with public sector workers on wage talks and give local residents more say in whether they get a wind farm, gas plant or casino.
There was a promise to restrain spending to one per cent below gross domestic product once the budget is balanced in 2017-18.
They also plan to “evaluate corporate tax compliance,” while exploring a tax break by raising the exemption threshold of the Employer Health Tax.
In addition to paying down the deficit, the new government’s agenda will also include an emphasis on job creation, the speech said.
They’ll work to tackle youth and aboriginal unemployment, while making efforts to give people with disabilities better access to jobs. The government will also contribute $50 million to a new venture capital fund to give small-and medium-sized businesses a leg up.
At the same time, they’ll let people on social assistance keep more of their earnings when they work.
As for the Liberals’ rocky relationship with labour groups and teachers angry over imposed contracts, the government will “build a sustainable model for wage negotiations” that will respect collective bargaining, the speech stated.
“It will show its respect for teachers, support staff, principals and school boards,” Onley read.
The Liberals said in the speech that they will make transit, roads and bridges a priority, hinting that improving such infrastructure may require politically unpopular levies.