The month of March marked the beginning of the Third Session of the 41st Parliament. MPPs returned from their constituencies and reconvened at Queen’s Park following the government’s decision to prorogue the legislature, which came days after the election of Doug Ford as the new Leader of the Opposition. Although the timing of the prorogation means that no sessional days will be lost, this move has resulted in all items of legislation, including Government bills and Private Members’ Bills that had not received Royal Assent, to die on the Order Paper. Bill 33, The Time to Care Act, is among one of several casualties of the government’s attempt to reset the media cycle and wipe the slate clean of nearly 15 years of bad policy. Although bills can be re-introduced in the House for First Reading, in light of the fact that there are fewer than 20 sessional days left before the June election, it is unlikely that they will pass unless the government invokes closure to limit debate and stakeholder consultation.
Over the past month, my caucus colleagues and I have been pressing the government on its lack of a clear strategic direction for the Province moving forward. After breaking its own promise of presenting a balanced budget, the only real commitment the current government made to Ontarians in its Throne Speech was further increasing spending to result in a $6.7 billion deficit, which will add to our unsustainable debt load that costs us over $1 billion a month in interest alone. Due to this, access to essential public services such as healthcare and education has declined in Ontario, affecting Ontarians’ quality of life and putting entire communities’ viability at risk. The Minister of Finance admitted the government will make further cuts to the tune of $1.42 billion a year. Had the government had their priorities straight, they would have focused on front-line service delivery rather than spending wildly. Imagine what we could achieve by investing $1 billion a month into improving current services and building capital projects such as schools, hospitals and transportation infrastructure.
I would be remiss if I did not dedicate some words to the changes that occurred both at Queen’s Park and outside of it since the end of January. The Official Opposition went through a rapid and innovative leadership process that, while not perfect, saw unprecedented voter turnout and four great and passionate candidates lay out a vision for a better Ontario. My colleagues and I welcome Doug Ford and are united behind him in advocating for a Province where workers, families and seniors can count on great public services and a prosperous future for themselves and their loved ones. Since the leadership change, the government has had an about-face on balanced budgets and made a multitude of promises that they had either voted or spoken against just weeks ago. It will be an interesting final two months until the next election.
MPP, Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry