The Ontario legislature passed 14 bills during a busy sitting that began on February 16 and ended today.
The number of bills passed -- which equals last fall's sitting -- makes the two most recent sessions the most productive in recent years. The bills passed will deliver major progress on key priorities by:
- Laying a foundation to join the biggest carbon market in North America; ensuring that every dollar from Ontario's cap and trade program is invested in green projects and reducing emissions; and enhancing accountability for the Climate Change Action Plan and investment of cap and trade proceeds
- Ensuring that every eligible employee is part of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan or a comparable workplace pension plan by 2020
- Allowing municipalities to introduce ranked ballots and ban corporate and union donations for local elections
- Making workplaces, campuses and communities safer by strengthening laws to stop sexual violence and harassment.
During the sitting, the government also introduced seven additional bills that, if passed, would:
- Ban corporate and union donations and loan guarantees to political parties, cap how much third parties can spend on political advertising, limit individual donations and create a per-vote allowance for parties
- Put patients first by improving access to health care, expanding the role of Local Health Integration Networks and helping improve access to primary care providers
- Increase the supply of affordable housing and modernize existing social housing
- Make changes to 50 different statutes to reduce regulatory burdens and practices that cost businesses time and money, while protecting environmental and health standards and enhancing worker safety.
As we near the halfway mark of 2016, indicators and forecasts show that Ontario's economy is continuing to grow and create jobs. Ontario's economy is forecast to remain among the strongest in Canada. In 2015, the unemployment rate dipped to its lowest level since 2008. The minimum wage increased and average wages grew faster than inflation. The province attracted half of all venture capital in Canada.
Ontario's high school graduation rate is now more than 85 per cent and postsecondary enrolment continues to climb.
Last year the province announced 325 infrastructure projects across all regions, which are helping to create good jobs. Year over year, the province continues to create jobs, most of which are full-time and in above-average-wage industries.
When the legislature returns in the fall, the government will continue to focus on legislative priorities that support its economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs.
The four-part plan includes investing in talent and skills, including helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario's history and investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.
- Ontario has 335,200 more jobs and its economy is 10.9% per cent larger than it was at the pre-recessionary peak.
- Ontario’s economy is forecast to remain among the strongest in Canada, growing by 2.2 per cent in 2016, and also by 2.2 per cent on average over the 2016–19 period.
- Ontario is making the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province’s history — about $160 billion over 12 years — on roads, bridges, transit, schools and hospitals — which will support more than 110,000 jobs on average each year.
- The government is projected to meet its deficit target for the seventh year in a row, and it remains on track to eliminate the deficit in 2017–18 and maintain a balanced budget in 2018–19.
- Ontario’s high school graduation rate reached 85.5 per cent in 2015, which is the highest level in the province’s history and up from 68 per cent in 2004. And 67 per cent of Ontario adults aged 25 to 64 have completed postsecondary education.
- In 2016, fDi Intelligence named Ontario as Canada’s leader in attracting foreign capital investment.