On August 9, Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, outlined Premier Doug Ford and his Progressive Conservative government’s priorities for their second term in office through what is now largely a formality known as the Speech from the Throne. As expected, the speech struck the same tone and message as the Premier’s victory speech following his reelection win, touting his government’s most notable achievements from the past four years.
Similarly, the proposed path forward outlined in the speech is almost identical to that of the 2022 Ontario Budget, which was tabled prior to the election being called but has not yet been debated. Ontario’s Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy reintroduced the budget immediately after the throne speech yesterday.
The Ontario government remains focused on improving the province’s healthcare system, a theme that has been a consistent part of their overall focus since 2018, but it is also in dire need of immediate action having been accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to addressing pressures being felt by the healthcare system, particularly the current reality faced by nurses and emergency rooms, the government also highlighted long-term priorities to improve healthcare capacity such as investments in hospitals as well as home and community care.
The government also highlighted its intention to address the economic uncertainties brought forward by several factors including the pandemic, rising inflation, and geopolitical unrest in Europe, all of which in parallel are leading to an affordability crisis in Ontario. In addition to reintroducing pocketbook policies like aiming to ease the impact of a looming economic slowdown, the government also reiterated its focus on making significant long-term investments in infrastructure and strengthening Ontario’s competitive advantage.
In summary, and as per the 2022 Budget, the government will be focused on:
Rebuilding Ontario’s economy
Working for workers
Building highways and key infrastructure
Keeping costs down
By way of background, NATIONAL previously provided our analysis on the 2022 Ontario Budget as well as Premier Ford’s anticipated priorities for his second term in office following the provincial election.
So, what is next?
Next on the government’s agenda is to defend the Speech from the Throne in the Ontario Legislature as it is being debated by the opposition parties. During the debate, which will likely take place over the next few days, the opposition may bring forward amendments on items they disagree with.
Another item that will make its way through the debate cycle is the 2022 Budget bill, which was reintroduced by Minister Bethlenfalvy. Though there is a high likelihood that the PCs will leverage time allocation, a mechanism that enables the bill to pass quickly through the Ontario Legislature. The Budget bill will then make its way through committee hearings prior to the third reading and Royal Assent, which is why Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) are in the Legislature this summer instead of their own constituencies.
Similarly, the government and all MPPs will have the opportunity to introduce and debate other bills during the five-week summer session, before the Legislature is adjourned until the fall session.
As always, our Public Affairs team is available to provide further insights on the items above as well as support your organization’s engagement with the newly elected Ontario government.