Ontario Speech from Throne focussed on health-care, economy

The ultimate goal of the government is to avoid future lockdowns

The Ontario government will spend the coming months plugging holes in the health-care and long-term care systems, as well as kick-starting the economy as we emerge from the pandemic.

Monday morning’s Speech from the Throne marked the start of a new session of the legislature. It had been delayed from September due to the federal election.

“There’s no question over the past 18 months the people of Ontario have been tested like never before”

The ultimate goal of the government is to avoid future lockdowns. The speech expressed confidence Ontario’s high vaccination rates will ensure that doesn’t happen, and that a possible rise in cases this winter will not be cause for panic.

“Every tool must be brought to bear as we continue to confront the Delta driven fourth wave. We must and will remain vigilant. Ontario cannot go backwards. After 18 months of fighting this pandemic. We owe our businesses stability and certainty,” said Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell. “Your government also recognizes that we cannot live under these exceptional measures forever. Vaccine certificates are a temporary policy that will be lifted when it’s safe to do so.”

Any public health measures that are needed, said the government, will be localized and targetted.

The Speech went on to say the economic recovery will be fuelled by growth, not through spending cuts and tax hikes. In addition to health- and long-term care, money will be spent on roads, highways and transit.

Related: Federal government urged to extend COVID emergency benefits

The opposition parties were hoping to hear commitments to hiring more nurses and personal support workers, reducing class sizes, supports for small businesses, and paid sick days.

“Over the last year, the premier of this province, Doug Ford, withheld $5.6 billion, meant to protect us from COVID-19. He didn’t want to spend the money on you. And he’s still not,” said Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath. “By announcing nothing new whatsoever to help patients, students, workers, or small businesses, Doug Ford made it clear again, he’s not here for you.”

Liberal leader Steven Del Duca said the government seems content to do as little as possible, as late as possible.