Ontario Budget Deal Reached with NDP – Wynne

Premier Kathleen Wynne
Premier Kathleen Wynne
Ontario Liberal Leader, Premier Kathleen Wynne
Ontario Liberal Leader, Premier Kathleen Wynne

QUEEN’S PARK – An election over the Ontario Liberal Government’s 2013 Budget likely will not happen. This morning, from Queen’s Park, Premier Wynne announced there has been an agreement with Andrea Horwath and the New Democrats. 

No Spring Election over Budget

The Premier’s Statement:

“On May 2, we introduced the 2013 Budget, our comprehensive plan to create jobs and help the people of Ontario with their everyday lives. 

Further to my conversation on Wednesday afternoon with Andrea Horwath, the leader of the NDP, I want to outline the following government commitments:

1.    Financial Accountability Officer

The government would enhance accountability and transparency of Ontario’s finances by moving forward with the establishment of a Financial Accountability Officer. This new Officer would be independent of the government.

The government will introduce legislation in Fall 2013 to establish this role, and define its mandate. The officer would be empowered to provide analysis and advice to Members of Provincial Parliament and Legislative Committees on Ontario’s finances and the costs of proposed initiatives on a prospective basis.

2.    Health Care Accountability

Our government will introduce additional accountability measures across the health care system.

3.    HOV/HOT Lanes

As part of the government’s plan to address traffic congestion in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, the government committed in the 2013 Budget to consult with its partners and bring forward a plan on converting select high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes in the GTHA into high-occupancy toll (HOV/HOT) lanes.

Carpooling drivers would continue to be allowed in these lanes free of charge. However, this proposal would now allow other drivers to choose to drive in these lanes for a toll. Toll-free options would exist on all highways in the GTHA that would have HOV/HOT lanes. New revenue generated from these measures would be dedicated to transportation projects in a clear and transparent manner so that the investment is directly tied to measurable results. This model has been successfully implemented in several places, including Florida, Texas and California.

The government is committed to moving forward with its plan regarding HOT/HOV lanes. It will bring forward legislation that lays out a plan for addressing congestion in the GTHA, including this proposal. This would give the Legislature an opportunity to fully review and decide on the merits of the HOV/HOT lanes proposal.

I have indicated to the NDP that I would be making these commitments public. I hope to meet with Ms. Horwath again early next week so we can work together to pass the Budget before the house rises.”

The move likely staves off a vote of non-confidence in the Budget that would have caused an election.

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