Liberal government spells out priorities in speech from the throne
The Ontario Liberal government gave voters a broad look at their priorities in a throne speech from Queen’s Park on Monday, less than three months before the June election.
Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell delivered a speech written by the government of Premier Kathleen Wynne, announcing promises to improve “care and opportunity” for Ontarians in several areas.
In it’s upcoming budget, the government plans to increase the number of students who will be able to attend college and university tuition-free. It also promises to expand its program to help pay for prescription medication and dental care.
Families will also get help with the cost of childcare, home care for seniors and mental health and addiction treatment. In addition, the government plans t reduce wait times for hospitals, senior homes and childcare facilities.
Dowdeswell shared examples of Ontario residents who would benefit from these plans.
The throne speech was announced on Thurs. March 15 and comes just over a week before the delivery of the 2018 budget. Critics say this was a desperate move by a government that is ‘down in the polls’ as a ‘last ditch effort’ to use taxpayers’ money to order win votes. Charles Sousa, Ontario’s finance minister, was quick to deny those allegations saying that the decisions they make are long-term.
“These are not election cycle decisions, the decisions we make today will have profound impacts for future generations to come and the budget was always anticipated to be coming springtime every year,” said Sousa. “I have been taking the steps necessary to manage our finances responsibly but the people of Ontario are asking us to also manage their support and their cost of living. We’re doing that, we’re trying to find to find a way, without increasing taxes, to to enable us to transform government services and to provide more support for the people people of Ontario,” said Sousa.
Recently-elected Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford does not yet have a seat in the legislature, therefore, questions for the opposition were answered by MPP Lisa McLeod, who said they will not be supporting the Liberals’ proposed plans.
“Most Ontarians will look at this as cynical, they’ll say to us and they’ll say to others that if the Liberals really cared about long term care if they really cared about mental health if they really cared about postsecondary education then this Liberal government would have done something about it in the previous 15 years before they came to the state,” McLeod said.
The NDP announced plans over the weekend to make dental care accessible to an additional 4.5 million Ontario residents, by investing $1.2 billion. Andrea Horwath, Ontario’s NDP leader said she’s not surprised her adversaries included dental care in the throne speech.
“The difference is the New Democrats actually believe these things and we will implement them upon being elected. We’ve seen so much disappointment in Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals. She says one thing before an election she does something else after election. We believe in these things before elections and after elections and we are committed to making positive change in the lives of everyday families in this province,” said Horwath. “We’ve seen 15 years now as liberals had wanted to do any of these things that they’re promising today had they wanted to really do any of the things they’re going to promise in their budget they would have already gotten those things done.”