This Week in Queen’s Park — Nov. 15, 2018
by Jim McDonell
After our Constituency Week break, it was time to once again return to the business of the Legislature at Queen’s Park.
It was my privilege on Monday to introduce my Private Member’s Bill, now recognized as Bill 54, Organic Products Act. This Bill, if approved, will address the concerns of both consumers and producers in the agri-food industry by adopting established federal organic food standards.
Currently, the industry is without a provincial regulation for organic products, meaning anyone is free to use the term “organic.” Ontario is Canada’s largest organic market, valued annually at $1 billion. This Bill will offer consumers security in knowing that they are getting the quality products they have chosen for their family’s enjoyment.
The week was also peppered with a series of productive meetings that included a trip to Orillia where I joined Ontario’s Large Municipalities Chief Building Officials Fall workshop on behalf of our Minister of Municipal Affairs. Cutting red tape in Ontario’s development approvals system is a priority for our government. Streamlining the overly complex development process will create and protect jobs by making Ontario attractive to companies seeking to expand or re-locate. Listening firsthand to professionals about their challenges, needs and pressures is a commitment our government takes seriously. We continue to make much-needed changes to secure our commitment that Ontario is “Open For Business.”
On the Legislative front, government bills continued to move forward as Bill 34, Green Energy Repeal Act continued Third Reading debate; Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act was ordered referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs; and, Bill 48, Safe and Supportive Classrooms Act was engaged in Second Reading debate this week.
The really big news coming out of Queen’s Park this week was the Fall Economic Statement delivered by Finance Minister Vic Fedeli before the Legislature. Our “Plan For The People” is your government’s fiscal roadmap in restoring trust and putting money back in the pockets of taxpayers. While our government is aggressively pursuing new efficiencies, transparency and accountability, we are following through on our commitment to expand natural gas and broadband services. Our investigation to date has found approximately $3.2 billion in program efficiencies, allowing us to provide individuals, families and businesses with $2.7 billion in tax relief.
In fact, the 1.1 million low income Ontarians who are making less than $30,000 per year will see their provincial income taxes eliminated through our Low-Income Individuals and Families and Tax Credit (LIFT) – the biggest tax cut for low income workers in a generation. In addition, we are maintaining small business tax rates at their current levels and providing Employer Health Tax relief. If passed, this would generate $40 million in tax relief for businesses across the province.
These initiatives complement our commitment to reduce red tape by 25 percent by 2022.
You can access the full fall fiscal update at news.ontario.ca/mof/en/2018/11/a-plan-for-the- people.html.
This weekend I will be attending our PC conference in Toronto and will be unable to attend the many great events in the riding, including our always fun Santa Claus Parade in Cornwall. With the forecast of snow over the next few days, I encourage everyone to drive safely and be alert to the road conditions.