Mayor’s Comments On 2013 Ontario Throne Speech - Mayor’s Comments On 2013 Ontario Throne Speech
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null Mayor’s Comments On 2013 Ontario Throne Speech
February 20, 2013 -
Infrastructure, Social Assistance Reform and Interest Arbitration highlights
Yesterday, the Lieutenant Governor David Onley opened the 40th Legislative session at Queen's Park in Toronto delivering the new Premier's first Throne Speech. With the formation of this new provincial government and new cabinet ministers comes challenges and opportunities for the Kingston community. Highlights of the 2013 Throne Speech include:
Investing in Infrastructure
The government has committed to improving rural roads and bridges, suburban transit and solutions to gridlock. The government plans to engage in a conversation with Ontarians, including municipalities like Kingston, and the federal government on costs, funding options and support for our infrastructure.
Locally, we will continue to pursue federal and provincial sustainable funding options and grants for several major infrastructure projects, like the Point Pleasant Water Treatment Plant and JCB expansion.
The government also committed to a new dialogue with municipalities ensuring we will be engaged from the beginning in "the location decisions of facilities such as energy plants, casinos and quarries to ensure our concerns are addressed and that we are willing recipients."
The government pledged "to build a sustainable model of wage negotiation respectful of both collective bargaining and a fair, transparent process for interest arbitration in Ontario."
The government intends to embark on social assistance transformation, following the recommendations of The Commission on Social Assistance Reform report. They have committed to working with private sector employers to "increase participation of people with disabilities in the workforce."
The government also pledged to increase support for home care, to expand mental health services and to create a seniors strategy to promote coordination of services and care providers including long term care homes.
Next Steps/Heads and Beds
As the government moves to implement the initiatives brought forward in the Throne Speech, we intend to be involved in conversations with the government, our municipal counterparts and associations to ensure we have a voice in any policy change that could impact Kingston.
Although the Throne Speech touched on many aspects of the government's new mandate, I did not see specifics on how they hope to generate sustainable funding options for Ontario's municipalities. With aging infrastructure, competing priorities and fiscal restraint from both levels of government, we need predictable, long term sustainable funding options.
Kingston has long advocated for a change to the payments in lieu of taxes (heads and beds) and the government has an opportunity to consider and implement this significant municipal investment. Heads and Beds will continue to be something Kingston will be pushing with the government and opposition parties as they move forward in this legislative session.
Media contact information:
Mayor Mark Gerretsen
613-546-4291 Ext. 1405