Recently, the Ontario Legislature rose for our holiday break, giving your elected representatives the chance to return to their ridings, attend community events, meet constituents and spend some quality time with our loved ones. The end of sitting is also an opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of our government in 2014 and look ahead to the ways we will continue building opportunity and security for the people of Ontario in 2015.
A year ago, I was working in the private sector. And a year ago at Queen’s Park, our Liberal team was facing a challenging minority parliament. What I saw was a government working in collaboration with the opposition to move forward with initiatives that were important to me, Ottawa-Orléans and the people of Ontario.
The year got off to a great start when, in January, the province’s largest coal-fired station, Nanticoke Generating Station, burned its last coal and went out of service. Three months later, Thunder Bay Generating Station burned its last piece of coal and Ontario became the first place in North America to eliminate coal as a source of electricity — the single largest climate change initiative undertaken in North America.
Our air is cleaner and our environment is healthier because of the work we did to reduce harmful emissions. Today, Ontario is a leader in the fight against climate change and, as the rest of the world looks to us as an example, our clean-tech industries are in global demand.
Later in the year, our government introduced legislation to increase Ontario’s minimum wage to $11 per hour and tie future increases every year to the rate of inflation. The legislation gives businesses time to plan and ensures fairness for low-income workers.
In the spring, when the other parties decided not to support the budget, we went to the polls. I ran to serve as your MPP because I believe in Premier Kathleen Wynne’s practical and balanced plan to build Ontario up and because I have the skills and experience to make a real contribution for the people of Ottawa-Orléans. I am excited to have the opportunity to deliver for you and proud to serve as your MPP.
When our party was given a majority mandate by the people of this province, new MPPs joined those who were re-elected and together, we got right back to work. We reconvened the legislature within a few short weeks and we passed the budget in July.
Since that time we have been implementing our economic plan and working to bring more opportunity and greater security to the people of Ontario. The plan and its four parts build Ontario up by investing in people’s talents and skills, building new public infrastructure, such as roads and transit, creating a dynamic and supportive business environment and building a secure retirement savings plan, so that everyone can afford to retire.
This fall we increased trade with China, implemented full-day kindergarten province-wide, secure funding for the Ottawa River Action Plan(ORAP), assuring the LRT project and moved towards creating the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan in 2017.
In the New Year, we will build on these and other accomplishments of 2014 by continuing to find practical solutions to the real challenges that people face. Six months into our mandate, our work is just getting started. Ontario’s best days are ahead.
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