Mr. Speaker, I rise to present Ontario's 2011 Budget.
Ontario is turning the corner to a better tomorrow.
Five consecutive quarters of growth, higher business
investment and a resurgent manufacturing sector are all
evidence that the global economic downturn is behind us.
Jobs and growth are returning to our economy as we embrace
innovation and continue building the best education system in
Strategic investments in education and health care lay the
foundation for a future with more jobs, increased productivity
and a better quality of life for all our families.
Mr. Speaker, this Budget builds on our government's plan to
return Ontario's finances to balance while protecting the gains
we have made together.
More Jobs in a Stronger Economy
Our government believes that strong public services are essential
to a strong economy.
Good schools and hospitals strengthen the economy by making our
people more productive and our businesses more competitive.
In turn, a strong economy creates jobs and supports education and
Ultimately, this results in a better quality of life.
And that, Mr. Speaker, is how we, as a government, measure
That is why we have been working so diligently to build schools,
hospitals and infrastructure.
Our job is to ensure that Ontario businesses have the tools they
need to build opportunities.
Ontario's Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth is making businesses
more competitive and is strengthening investment.
We cut the tax rate on new business investment in half, making
Ontario a much more attractive place for businesses to invest and
With our tax plan, a software publisher in Ontario will pay
58 per cent less in provincial corporate and sales taxes.
For a restaurant, it's 67 per cent less.
For a manufacturer, it's 89 per cent less.
This makes it easier to do business in Ontario.
Companies big and small are already responding by leading the
country in new investments in equipment and technologies.
Investments by the private sector in buildings, machinery and
equipment rose by 7.4 per cent in 2010.
At the same time, research by economist Michael Smart finds that
about two-thirds of business savings from the Harmonized Sales
Tax (HST) had been passed through to consumers within only
six months after the HST was implemented.
Mr. Speaker, Ontario has significantly decreased costs for
employers, and there is more to do to ensure we become even
Jobs are coming back to Ontario.
So far, we have recovered 91 per cent of the jobs lost during
Statistics Canada tells us 84 per cent of those jobs are full time.
The United Kingdom has recovered less than 40 per cent of the
jobs lost during the recession while the United States has recovered
less than 15 per cent.
Mr. Speaker, Ontario's plan for jobs and growth is working.
Gross domestic product (GDP) rose by an estimated
2.8 per cent in 2010 and all private-sector forecasters expect
The average private-sector forecast calls for Ontario economic
growth of 2.6 per cent in 2011 and 2.8 per cent in 2012.
That means Ontario's economy is turning the corner.
To be prudent, our plans are based on growth assumptions
below those of the private sector.
Therefore, we are projecting GDP growth of 2.4 per cent in
2011 and 2.7 per cent in 2012.
In our first five years as a government, we worked with
Ontarians to repair and rebuild the province's neglected
schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, roads and bridges.
Our government also eliminated the $5.5 billion deficit we
inherited and delivered three balanced budgets in a row.
Mr. Speaker, we did what was necessary to put our province on
a stronger competitive footing and create more opportunities
As part of the global effort to stimulate the economy during
the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression,
our government, like those everywhere, ran a deficit.
We invested in infrastructure, created and protected hundreds
of thousands of jobs, and took steps to make our economy
Others would have slashed services essential to a growing
We chose to protect education.
We chose to protect health care.
We chose to protect investments in infrastructure.
Others would have cut people loose.
We chose to invest in people.
Mr. Speaker, we choose to preserve and safeguard our quality
We have modernized Ontario's tax system.
We have rebuilt Ontario's run-down electricity system.
We have kick-started our clean energy sector, protected our
auto sector and introduced full-day kindergarten.
Mr. Speaker, even though those choices have come at a
financial cost, they have also paid economic dividends for
the people of Ontario.
Employment is up.
Manufacturing is up.
Business investment is up.
Mr. Speaker, let me give you one example.
Ontarians worked together to help their neighbours with jobs
in the auto industry.
Together, we made emergency assistance of $4.8 billion
available to General Motors and Chrysler to protect the
hundreds of thousands of jobs in a key driver of Ontario's
economy - and of the Canadian economy.
As a result, auto production rose 40 per cent last year and
continues to rise this year.
This, Mr. Speaker, is an example of the kinds of choices
Ontarians have been making.
Choices to protect and create jobs.
Choices to protect our valued schools and hospitals.
Choices to protect our water and food supplies.
So, now, we are applying the same prudent, proven and
responsible approach that saw us through the global recession
to the challenge of the deficit.
Already, we have shown improvement from the deficit targets
outlined for 2010-11 to 2012-13 in last year's Budget.
In fact, deficits over these three years are projected to be
$4.7 billion less than we projected last year.
This year's Budget is projecting a deficit of $16.7 billion for
2010-11 - this is $3 billion lower than projected last year.
For the people of Ontario, this means we are tackling the
We will accelerate our plan to improve productivity and
efficiency within the government and help reform the public
sector over the longer term.
We will make government more streamlined and responsive
to the needs of citizens.
Looking ahead, we know there continue to be risks on
We have been talking about these risks for some time.
They include the high price of oil, the U.S. economy and the
possibility that interest rates could rise sharply.
In recent weeks, the earthquake in Japan and political volatility
in North Africa and the Middle East have created more
uncertainty in the global recovery.
A strong Canadian dollar has posed a problem for our
manufacturers and they are responding.
Ontario exporters are becoming more innovative and
merchandise exports rose by 16 per cent last year -
supported by an increase in total manufacturing sales of
over 11 per cent in 2010.
Opening Ontario to economic growth and jobs while
protecting the progress Ontarians have made in their schools
and health care requires a commitment to prudent fiscal
management and balanced budgets.
Although the economy is recovering, we cannot simply rely on
economic growth alone to eliminate the deficit.
Our government has a strong track record of fiscal prudence
In addition to posting three balanced budgets, we have
overachieved our budget targets in five of the last seven
The expenditure management measures introduced in the
last Budget produced immediate dividends, with 2010-11
total expense projected to be $3 billion lower than forecast
a year ago.
This is the second year in a row that total expense has come in
We continue to look for ways to deliver services more
efficiently and even more effectively for people.
The changes we have made add up
to significant savings and service
Building a Better Tomorrow: The Best Approach
This year's Budget outlines nearly $1.5 billion in new savings
over three years.
Mr. Speaker, we are choosing to fight the deficit while also
protecting education and health care.
These two goals can be pursued at the same time.
Doing so requires balance and thoughtful choices.
This approach requires lower growth rates in other program
It will require us to re-examine the way programs and services
are delivered to people.
There are other choices, Mr. Speaker.
Choices we reject.
Choices such as a reduction to the HST would require deep
cuts to health care and education and would hurt Ontario
families and undermine our competitiveness.
The choice could be made to slash benefits for our low-income
people, let our infrastructure age and allow our universities
and colleges to fall into disrepair.
Or lay off about 33,000 teachers.
Or reduce the number of doctors in Ontario by 12,000.
Or eliminate funding for 37,000 nurses.
Or cut funding for 80 per cent of all the beds in long-term
Any one of these choices would save about $3 billion.
And, Mr. Speaker, $3 billion is about the same as a one point
cut in the HST.
But we reject those choices.
We know from past experience that across-the-board cuts
do not work.
We choose, instead, what Ontarians would have us do:
we choose to protect jobs, protect our vital public services
and protect our economic recovery.
Mr. Speaker, just as people and families do, governments must
live within their means.
To help protect education and health care while also eliminating
the deficit, we know that the status quo is not an option.
We need to reform the way government delivers services
We will build on our track record of reform.
The 2011 Budget identifies several new initiatives to drive
change and reform in public service delivery, including:
• instructing major agencies to deliver savings of
$200 million by 2013-14;
• reducing the size of the Ontario Public Service (OPS)
by an additional 1,500 positions between April 2012 and
March 2014. This comes on top of the reduction of about
3,400 positions by March 2012 that was announced in the
• closing less efficient jails across Ontario and moving
inmates to newer, more efficient jails to deliver better
value to taxpayers and to keep our streets safer; and
• reducing funding for executive offices at hospitals and
universities and other government agencies.
Reforming the Broader Public Sector
Mr. Speaker, we will explore new ways to export and create
value from Ontario's excellence in delivering those public
services that are recognized as being among the best in
We will also look to determine whether the current
ServiceOntario model delivers the best value and service
In addition to these shorter-term initiatives, the government
will establish the Commission on the Reform of Ontario's
Public Services, chaired by Don Drummond. The commission
will advise on more fundamental reforms: changes that will
help protect health care and education over the long term,
while accelerating the elimination of the deficit.
Mr. Speaker, in my pre-budget consultations this year,
I participated in telephone town halls - directly reaching out
to more than 120,000 people across the province.
I heard from moms and dads who want to know their kids have
a bright future.
I heard from working people who want to know that jobs are
being created - good, high-paying jobs.
Seniors told me they have worked to ensure a better
tomorrow for themselves and for their children.
They want to make sure their savings are there for them when
tomorrow becomes today.
People told me they want the governments they elect to give
them the tools they need to prosper.
People told me they want the governments they elect to
continue to improve the way they do business.
To reform the way they do things - essentially, to make
government work even better.
Mr. Speaker, governments are elected to serve the needs of the
people they are privileged to represent.
We - as a government - are motivated by the trust the
people of Ontario have placed in us.
We are driven by our obligation and responsibility to deliver.
To build a better future, we must invest in each other -
in people and in partnerships.
The McGuinty government will continue to partner with
business to create the right conditions for jobs and growth.
Over the next several weeks, Ontario and several
private-sector partners will be announcing new investments
of over $1.3 billion, including nearly $175 million from
the Province, creating more than 2,100 jobs and retaining a
further 7,800 jobs right here in Ontario.
We are also taking steps to protect jobs on our farms.
Now, more than ever, Ontario needs a strong farming sector.
Volatility in commodity markets can make it difficult for
farmers to manage their business risks.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce the extension of
the current Risk Management Program for grain and
The government will also implement new risk management
programs for the cattle, hog, sheep and veal sectors. We will
also implement a Self-Directed Risk Management Program for
the edible horticulture sector.
The cost of these programs will
be shared between the Ontario
government and farmers.
Strategic Investments for a Better Future
These programs are innovative.
They provide bankability, stability and predictability for
Mr. Speaker, the McGuinty government will continue to invest
in people and job creation.
Just as we modernized Ontario's tax system to help our
businesses compete in the global economy, we cut personal
income taxes and introduced a wide variety of tax credits and
benefits that give money back to people.
With the changes we have made, people, on average, have
more money in their pockets.
In fact, more than two-thirds of households - those with
incomes of $90,000 or less - have more money in their
With the changes we have made, 86 per cent of senior
households have more money in their pockets.
Mr. Speaker, together we are building a stronger Ontario.
An Ontario that cares for its people and its families.
An Ontario that helps businesses expand and create jobs.
An Ontario that is alive with opportunity for all who live here
and are proud to call this province home.
We are also helping Ontarians get further ahead through
ongoing investments in postsecondary education.
Experts tell us that 70 per cent of future jobs will require
workers with a postsecondary education.
So we want our workers to be the smartest, most capable and
creative workers, anywhere.
We want them to create the innovative products and services
the world wants to buy.
Ontario has a higher postsecondary education attainment
rate than any Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) country.
We are boosting our attainment rate to 70 per cent. It was
only 56 per cent in 2002.
No keen and qualified Ontario student will be turned away for
lack of space on our part or lack of money on his or her part.
Mr. Speaker, there will be room and support.
That is why the 2011 Budget announces additional funding that
will help create places for more than 60,000 additional college
and university students by 2015-16.
Through one of the most generous
student financial support programs
in the country, we are also helping to
keep education affordable.
Additional Postsecondary Spaces
Mr. Speaker, we've known for a long time that a strong start in
school makes for a strong finish.
A strong start means our kids are more likely to finish high
school and go on to college, university or an apprenticeship;
more likely to get a good job; and more likely to enjoy a good
standard of living and contribute to a stronger Ontario.
That is why we chose to introduce full-day kindergarten
It is the first program of its kind in North America.
This school year, full-day kindergarten is available in nearly
600 schools for up to 35,000 Ontario children.
In September 2011, it will be available in an additional
200 schools, benefiting up to 50,000 children.
The program will be fully in place in September 2014,
benefiting about 247,000 children.
Full-day kindergarten helps moms and dads too - saving
them both time and money and making their own work days
easier and more productive.
Mr. Speaker, our government has chosen to strengthen our
publicly funded education system - from kindergarten to
graduate school - because we believe building education is
more than sound social policy.
It is essential economic policy.
We will continue to protect our public education system.
To compete with the best in the world and win, we also need a
A strong, public health care system gives our workers and our
businesses a real competitive advantage, which is why we chose to
We have built 13 new hospitals and five more are under
We have added over 10,000 more nurses.
And we have added nearly 2,900 more doctors.
We have gone from zero to 200 Family Health Teams, serving
three million patients.
In another first for Canada, we now have nurse practitioner-led clinics.
Today, 94 per cent of all Ontarians have a family doctor.
That is 1.2 million more people than in 2003.
And hospital wait times are coming down. Ontario has the shortest
wait times in Canada.
Together with Ontarians, we have chosen to build a strong public
health care system that helps care for our families, improves our
quality of life and increases our competitiveness.
We choose to keep protecting and improving our quality of life.
That is why the 2011 Budget announces
additional funding of $15 million
over three years to provide 90,000
more breast cancer screening exams,
expanding current screening to reach
more women who are at high risk.
Better Health Care
Mr. Speaker, mental health and addiction problems affect people
during many stages of life.
One out of five Ontarians will experience some form of mental illness.
It touches all of our families.
We will do more to help.
We are introducing a comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions
At the outset, our focus will be on children and youth.
By 2013-14, funding to support the strategy will grow to
$93 million per year.
Mr. Speaker, as our population grows and ages, it is important that
we continue to build strong health care services.
Beginning in April, more pharmacy services and support will
be available to people covered under the Ontario Drug Benefit
Program, including seniors.
That means more people will get the hands-on support and
followup help they need.
And, Mr. Speaker, we know that Ontarians want their federal and
provincial governments to work together to improve health care.
They want us to focus relentlessly on improvements to our publicly
funded health care system.
And they want us to ensure that Ottawa pays its share of our most
important national program.
That is what Ontarians accomplished together when the last deal
was signed in 2004.
So we will continue to ensure Ontario is treated fairly when the
Health Accord comes up for renewal.
Mr. Speaker, the choices that we have made to build a stronger
economy and protect our vital services have been guided by
The fact is, our economy is growing.
The fact is, businesses are investing and creating jobs.
The fact is, more and more people who lost their jobs during
the recession are now finding work.
Ontario is turning the corner to a better tomorrow.
Our plan to help Ontarians through the recession and build for
the future is working.
Those are the facts.
Now, we need to face another fact confronting all governments -
the reality of slower global economic growth and a deficit.
We need to move forward by making the same kinds of
prudent, balanced choices we have made in the past.
So I am introducing a budget that supports job creation.
It will continue the necessary work we have already
undertaken to eliminate the deficit.
At the same time, we are choosing to protect education.
We are choosing to protect our children's schools and
make room for all our four- and five-year-olds in full-day
We will protect our economy and our workers by making
room for the growing number of young Ontarians who are
choosing a postsecondary education.
We will continue to build a strong health care system for our
seniors and young people.
We will continue to make the same kinds of choices Ontarians
are making for themselves.
We will continue tackling the deficit while we protect the
services that people rely on.
Mr. Speaker, Ontario is turning the corner and we will
continue to build a stronger Ontario.
I am proud of those choices and proud of our plan.
I know I speak for all my colleagues when I say we are more
passionate about building that future today than we have
We are delivering a plan that leads to real progress -
not progress for its own sake.
Progress with a purpose - a better tomorrow and a great
future for our children and our grandchildren.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.