This week at Queen’s Park
By: Jim McDonell
This week was an active one of Legislative business as our Government continues to focus on the needs of Ontario. On the Legislative front, we engaged in:
Moving Bill 32, Access to Natural Gas Act, on to Third Reading debate; Bill 57, Restoring Trust, Transparency and Accountability Act, engaged in Second Reading debate; and Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, received Royal Assent.
In the 2018 fall economic statement, our Government seeks to address housing affordability and encourage the development of new, purpose-built rental housing by cutting through the red tape. This message was confirmed to me by the Ontario Home Builder’s Association on Thursday when I spoke with them at their Toronto centre. We are also preserving rent control for all existing tenants in Ontario. This means that if you are already renting your home, or if you start renting an older apartment next week, next month or next year, you will be protected by rent control. For 2019, the maximum rent increase is 1.8 percent.
At the same time, we are encouraging the construction of housing supply by exempting new units from rent control. This will encourage both big developers and small landlords to create more affordable apartments while providing consumers with more housing options.
My friend Minister Lisa MacLeod made a significant announcement this week to improve the Provincial social assistance programs (Ontario Works and ODSP). This work will build on our historic Low-Income Individuals and Families Tax Credit (LIFT Credit) which incentivizes people to leave the social assistance and find work. If passed, LIFT will provide $850 in tax relief to an individual earning 30,000 per year and will benefit 1.1 million low-income and minimum wage workers.
As our Government continues to streamline service delivery, recent changes have been implemented concerning the Environmental Commissioner, Ontario Child Advocate and the French Language Services Commissioner. These offices are NOT being dismantled; they are moving into the office of the Ombudsman and Auditor General. Not a single oversight provision will be lost with these changes – in fact, they will be strengthened. The transfer of the roles and responsibilities is designed to find the most efficient way to offer the highest level of services.
Minister MacLeod drove home this point with respect to child protection during Question Period when she stated, “We have decided as a government to ensure that the ombudsman has more power to have investigative relationships within the children’s aid societies. We feel very strongly that this is a great opportunity for greater child protection in the province of Ontario.” The same ring true for the other independent officers of the Legislature.
Our government was elected with a strong mandate from the people of Ontario to bring financial relief to our province and put Ontario back on a path to prosperity. Each week at the Ontario Legislature we are doing just that.