Ontario’s 43rd parliament has convened for the first time, electing a new Speaker before receiving the Speech from the Throne read by Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell.
Speech from the Throne
Titled Together, Let’s Build Ontario, the Speech from the Throne recapped the Government’s greatest achievements while laying out their roadmap for the coming years.
Calling the Ford Government’s agenda “its ambitious plan to build Ontario,” Lt. Gov. Dowdeswell touted the government’s focus on building and improving Ontario’s infrastructure and economy.
A prevalent theme in the Speech is the need for a stable, action-oriented government in the face of a projected global recession. The Ford Government is trying to drive home that their agenda is needed now more than ever to confront the next crisis.
The government also took the opportunity to highlight their proposed “strong mayor powers” ahead of the upcoming municipal elections, which would give mayors greater decision-making abilities and veto powers over council.
The Speech spoke to the cost-of-living crisis facing Ontarians and the need to make life more affordable, saying the government’s agenda will “blunt the impact on household budgets.” Lt. Gov. Dowdeswell. also mentioned a new one-time payment to parents to help their children get caught up after the pandemic disruptions.
Addressing the challenges in healthcare, the Speech indicated a renewed interest in bolstering the province’s hospital capacity, through increasing both beds and staff. The Speech also made the point that Ontario is not the only province facing these pressures.
Overall, the Speech was unsurprisingly similar in tone and theme to Premier Ford’s victory speech in June. It charted a course for a more stable and productive beginning to the Ford Government’s second term than we saw in 2018.
Read the full Speech from the Throne here.
The Government is expected to spend the next few weeks debating and passing the Speech from the Throne and Budget 2022. Given that the government is tabling the Speech and budget at the same time, opposition parties will hold their fire for the budget, which they have had months to consider.
The Ford Government’s commanding re-election in June gives them a strong mandate to deliver on their election promises. Acknowledging in The Speech from the Throne that there are “no easy solutions” on the issues of healthcare and inflation, we can expect the government will be looking at innovative reforms in the coming months. Given both opposition parties lack permanent leaders, expect the government to move more liberally on contentious policies early in their mandate.
In a Speaker’s election being contested by two PC MPPs, Ted Arnott (Wellington—Halton Hills) won a second term as Speaker over Nina Tangri (Mississauga—Streetsville). Tangri had been nominated by two PC MPPs and publicly endorsed by Government House Leader Paul Calandra, while Arnott was nominated by members of each opposition party.
Well-respected by all parties, Speaker Arnott is a veteran Tory MPP, first elected in 1990 and re-elected in every election since. He is on track to become the longest serving Speaker in Ontario history by the end of the 43rd parliament.