This week at Queen’s Park
by Jim McDonell
This past week was an especially important one for our government’s plan to improve the public’s relationship with their police, reduce crime and help modernize local municipalities and their infrastructure.
Bill 68, the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act, passed third reading in the legislature. This bill fixes the previous government’s legislation, which was considered anti-police and created an air of suspicion within the forces. Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Sylvia Jones put forward Bill 68 to fulfill our government’s promises to make our province safer, protect victims’ rights and to concentrate resources on criminal activity. The bill maintains key points of the Police Service Act while setting up one-window access for public complaints. This will reduce duplication and speed up the process.
Also this week, our government addressed gun and gang violence with a new strategy. We are putting a new emphasis on local crime prevention, enforcement, and prosecution. Guns and Gangs Phase II, combined with Bill 68, will enable police to curtail violence, stand up for victims and make sure criminals are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Our government released details of a joint federal-provincial-municipal fund targeted to construct, expand and improve public transit systems across the province. Under the plan, the City of Cornwall will have access to $18.1 million for projects meeting the program’s objectives.
Our riding’s major highways will be getting some needed upgrades this year as Minister of Transportation Jeff Yurek announced 30 projects in eastern Ontario. In our riding of Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry, four construction projects along Highway 401 and two much-needed commuter parking lots along Highway 138 at St. Andrews and Cornwall Centre Road have been given the green light.
Our government officially ended Ontario’s Drive Clean program this week. The Auditor-General reported that the program had outlived its useful purpose, becoming an ineffective and costly program for drivers and businesses. We will focus on big polluters, to allow this province to maintain its lead in the reduction of smog-causing pollutants.
In the fall, the Ontario government passed Bill 4, The Cap-and-Trade Cancelation Act. This week, Minister Phillips released the finalized compensation figures for eligible participants of the former program. This is one of the final milestones in our promised elimination of the cap and trade program that will save families $260 a year and remove a costly burden from Ontario businesses. Our government’s Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan remains committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but will do so in a way that recognizes the unique circumstances of our economy and without imposing a job-killing carbon tax or otherwise making life unaffordable for the people of Ontario.
We are moving ahead with more efficient purchasing and procurement practices after President of the Treasury Board Peter Bethlenfalvy received royal assent for Bill 81, Supply Act. This will save $1 billion annually, streamline back-office processes and services, reduce unnecessary duplication, and remove waste throughout the government.
As our spring weather finally arrives, maple syrup season is finally upon us. This past week, I was pleased to welcome Premier Doug Ford to our riding to enjoy some Eastern Ontario hospitality and some of our outstanding maple products. On his way back to Toronto, he made a number of stops at businesses along the way, including the Sand Road Maple Farm.