THUNDER BAY – “Two years after the worst global recession most of us have ever known, the Ontario economy is turning the corner and jobs are coming back. A well-educated and healthy workforce strengthens Ontario’s economy and attracts investment and jobs,” comments Ontario Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan. “We have a responsible plan to eliminate the deficit while protecting schools, hospitals and economic growth. This requires even more reform in the way government works to ensure we get better value for money. The alternative – across-the-board program cuts – would reverse the significant gains Ontarians have achieved in health care and education, and would undermine the province’s economic competitiveness.”
The Ontario Government has brought down the 2011 Budget.
The McGuinty Liberals state that the plan is what is needed to bring Ontario out of the recession and solidly put the province on the recovery trail.
New partnerships with the private sector will create and retain nearly 10,000 jobs in Ontario and helping cattle, hog, sheep and veal farmers by implementing a new Risk Management Program, and a Self-Directed Risk Management Program for the edible horticulture sector are part of the plan.
The Liberals state that their plan will create more than 60,000 new student spaces in Ontario’s colleges and universities by 2015-16. There will be room for every qualified Ontario student. This September, full-day kindergarten will be available in an additional 200 schools, benefiting up to 50,000 children. Currently, nearly 600 schools offer full-day kindergarten for up to 35,000 children. It will be fully implemented, available in every school, in September 2014.
The Liberals are also stating that coming out of the recession, that they are protecting healthcare. About 90,000 additional breast cancer screening exams to help reach more women who are at high risk, as well as a comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, starting with children and youth. Additionally there are expanded pharmacy services and support for people covered under the Ontario Drug Benefit Program — helping seniors and others with things like prescription follow-up consultations.
“To help eliminate the deficit without threatening economic growth or the gains Ontarians have made in education and health care, the government must further reform the way it does business. Recent initiatives and those announced in this budget would help realize savings of nearly $1.5 billion over the next three fiscal years. There are several new measures that would make public services more affordable and effective for Ontario families”.
The Liberal Budget includes:
- Determining whether the current ServiceOntario delivery model provides the best value and service to people.
- Instructing major agencies to deliver efficiencies of $200 million by 2013-14
- Reducing funding permanently for executive offices of specific transfer payment recipients by 10 per cent over two years. This policy will also be put in place for major government agencies
- Reducing the size of the Ontario Public Service (OPS) by an additional 1,500 positions between April 2012 and March 2014. This is in addition to the reduction of about 3,400 full-time OPS employees announced in the 2009 Budget.
- The Liberal are also stating they are making the jail system more modern and efficient. Efficiencies will be gained by closing underutilized prisons in Owen Sound, Walkerton and Sarnia, and partially closing Toronto West Detention Centre. Inmates will be transferred to new, larger, more efficient facilities.
- Cancelling construction of the Toronto West Courthouse, resulting in appropriation savings of $181 million over the next three years.
- Establishing the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services, chaired by respected economist Don Drummond, which will provide advice on reforms that would help accelerate the government’s plan to eliminate the deficit while protecting education and health care.