Ontario Tories promises to fund health-care, slash govt waste, scrap cap and trade
Doug Ford shakes hands with Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell as he is sworn in as premier of Ontario during a ceremony at Queen's Park in Toronto on Friday, June 29, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch)
Published Thursday, July 12, 2018 2:31PM EDT
TORONTO -- Ontario's new Progressive Conservative government is pledging to cut taxes, provide long-term funding for the health-care system and slash government waste in a throne speech that emphasizes promises made by Premier Doug Ford during the spring election campaign.
The speech, written by the premier's office and read by Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell at the Ontario legislature, sets out a road map for the new Progressive Conservative government's term.
It does not introduce new promises but highlights key pledges from Ford to pull out of the cap-and-trade system and fight what his government calls "oppressive" taxes, including the imposition of a federal carbon price.
"In a time of economic uncertainty, a punishing carbon tax is the last thing Ontario families and businesses can afford," it said. "Your government will use every tool at its disposal to fight those who would hurt Ontario families and jobs by imposing such a tax on our province."
The speech also promises the government will take action to reduce taxes for parents, small businesses and the working poor, and promises reductions in electricity bills.
It further says the government will provide stable health-care funding, including a $3.8 billion investment in mental health, addictions and supportive housing.
The speech also promises to restore faith in public institutions and highlights a Tory pledge to complete a line-by-line audit of all government spending to identify waste.
However, it makes no mention of one issue the government had said would be one of its priorities for the rare summer sitting of the legislature: ending an ongoing strike at York University.
Ford nonetheless stressed those priorities in a statement Thursday, saying his government had received a "clear mandate" from voters.
"We are ending the deadlocked strike at York University so students can get back to school. We are striking the cap-and-trade carbon tax from the books. And we are cancelling unnecessary renewable energy projects to help lower your electricity bills," he said.
In the statement, the Tories said the summer session will build on the work their government has already undertaken, such as steps to dismantle cap and trade and measures to curb government spending.
University of Toronto political science professor Nelson Wiseman said Ford, who led the party to a sweeping majority, is capitalizing on his momentum.
"Politically, I think what he's doing is smart," he said. "He feels the wind in his sails. He wants to keep it that way. This gives him an opportunity to get this attention now."
Ford made good on a key campaign promise Wednesday, announcing the immediate retirement of the CEO of Hydro One and the resignation of the utility's entire board of directors. He said the move would bring down electricity rates but struggled to explain how when asked repeatedly by reporters.