L'Ontario affronte des défis de taille en 2024 : coût de la vie, logement, santé et récession potentielle. Voyez comment le gouvernement Ford s'y prépare et les répercussions politiques à venir.
L'article est disponible en anglais uniquement.
Ontario is facing a major issue heading into 2024. Life, as we know it, is less affordable than it has ever been, and this is true across the country. Higher interest rates, inflation, increased cost of living, and an ever-looming recession are compelling factors for the Ford Government to consider. Coupled with other key priorities such as a declining housing supply, an overburdened healthcare system and aging infrastructure, 2024 will be an uphill battle.
Two years into his second term, the Premier has his work cut out for him and 2023 came with its own unique challenges. With the Greenbelt controversy dominating headlines last year, the Ford Government will be hopeful that with the new year comes an opportunity to rebuild its reputation and refocus its approach to “get it done.”
December also saw Bonnie Crombie win the Ontario Liberal leadership race. The former Mississauga mayor and member of Parliament will lead the Ontario Liberal Party in its fight to regain official party status and challenge Premier Ford in the 2026 election. Currently without a seat in the Legislature, Crombie and the Liberal Party may seek a seat through a by-election, should a seat become available or wait for the general election scheduled for 2026, though we are still two and a half years away from the next provincial election and a lot can happen between now and then.
A new year also signals the beginning of a new budget cycle, and below are a few key issues that will be top of mind for the Ford Government as it prepares to bring forward its second Budget since the 2022 re-election.
2023 saw record-low Black Friday and Boxing Day spending, with affordability continuing to remain top of mind for Ontarians. Enabling economic growth while contending with the myriad of factors making life unaffordable will be a real challenge for the provincial government. For the Premier, this challenge also presents an opportunity to potentially reintroduce pocketbook policies that his government focused on during his first term. There is no doubt that Ontario New Democratic Party leader Marit Stiles will seek to hold the province accountable regarding affordability while positioning her party as a viable alternative.
In conjunction with concerns around affordability, housing will remain a hot-button issue in 2024. As the Ford government heads into the third year of its 10-year pledge to build 1.5 million homes in Ontario, the pace of new home construction is slower than what it must be to hit the target. The government has also had to walk back on several of its key proposals to make more land available for housing, including opening up the Greenbelt, resulting in cities having to look at creative alternatives such as expanding their boundaries. Labour shortages and record-high interest rates are also contributing to the slowdown. The province will need to leverage its working relationships with municipalities to advance its housing strategy.
Over the past year, Ontario has dealt with unprecedented staffing shortages in the healthcare sector. In the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of nurses have left the profession creating a gap in access to care and quality of treatment.
While the Ford government has made attempts to alleviate the shortages—including opening more medical school spots, making it easier to get a nursing degree, and clearing hurdles for foreign-trained health professionals to work in Ontario-- the human health resource challenges have persisted, resulting in emergency room closures and lengthened wait times for some patients.
In 2024, the government plans to expand the number and scope of surgeries conducted outside of hospitals, including hip and knee replacements, a move that could see more OHIP-covered procedures done in privately owned clinics. The Liberal Party has noted that healthcare will remain a key issue for years to come.
The race to the finish line
According to recent polling from 338 Canada, the Progressive Conservatives are still the top choice for many Ontarians. The Ontario Liberals and NDP are neck and neck for second place, with the Green Party’s Mike Schreiner in a distant fourth position.
In 2024, newly appointed Liberal leader Bonnie Crombie will be focused on boosting her profile among voters while also seeking to regain official party status. NDP leader Marit Stiles will seek to reestablish her status among voters as her party had when they were voted in as the Official Opposition. Both parties will have to muster up a great deal of support if they are to challenge the Progressive Conservatives in the 2026 election.
For Doug Ford, 2024 will be about moving past the challenges of the last year and staying true to his promises for the year ahead. While they remain in a strong position overall heading into 2024, only time will tell if they can hold their lead by the 2026 provincial election.
As always, NATIONAL’s Public Affairs team is available to provide further analysis on what to expect from the Ontario Government in 2024.