This week at Queen’s Park
by MPP Jim McDonell
Last week, we continued with our strong emphasis on making everyday living more affordable for all Ontarians. This is why the government continues to oppose the federal Carbon Tax, which will make things harder for all, including our cherished institutions. It has been determined the carbon tax will cost the average Ontario family $648 per year by 2022. This added expense is something that seniors, who have fixed incomes, cannot afford to shoulder. For our provincial hospitals, the carbon tax means a $27 million cut in health care as funds will need to be found to cover this additional cost. This money could have provided Ontarians access to 104,615 more MRI operating hours for 157,000 patients. The effects locally equate to $79,700 for the Cornwall Community Hospital and $66,400 for the Winchester District Memorial Hospital. This government believes that the federal carbon tax is unfair as Ontario is the only province that has made any significant progress on GHG reductions and we have a plan to meet the final 30% of our goal by 2030 of a 30 percent reduction below 2005 levels.
Another sure way of reducing expenses for families is the government’s move is to scrap the wasteful Drive Clean Program. The cancellation took effect April 1 and will save taxpayers $40 million.
Part of our motivation to reduce costs for households is that we are compassionate toward those who are most vulnerable. The same goes for our efforts to improve services for families with autistic children. This is why we are reaching out even more by holding province-wide consultations with parents, experts, and stakeholders next month. The input will go a long way in helping the government to better support children and their families. In addition to increased funding within our schools and the health care system, we have increased direct funding to families for autism therapy from $256 million to over $600 million.
On the legislative front, Ontario’s government is putting people first with the passage of Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act. It implements over 30 actions to make it easier for businesses to create jobs and for people to find them. These initiatives will cut business costs, harmonize regulatory requirements with other provinces and states, end duplication and reduce barriers to investment.
This government’s pro businesses focus is exemplified in no ‘sweeter’ way than in the promotion of maple syrup operations. Ontario is the second largest producer of maple syrup in the country, for a total of 2.1 million liters, generating $25 million in product sales. Last weekend’s annual maple weekend provides an excellent opportunity for Ontarians across the province to learn more about maple syrup making firsthand.
Hosted by the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers’ Association, maple syrup farmers across Ontario welcomed visitors onto the farm. I hope all of you have an opportunity to join in, to learn more about maple syrup-making firsthand.