The return of the legislature marks the beginning of a new mandate with new MPPs and a new cabinet.
While the governing party may not have changed, this new term of government will certainly be different from the last. We’re in the midst of a public health crisis far different than the last one, inflation has driven up the cost of pretty much everything, and economists are projecting a looming recession.
It already seems like the June 2 election was ages ago.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has issued the Blueprint to Bolster Ontario’s Prosperity, which includes letters to each provincial government minister outlining key policy priorities.
As Chambers, we’re calling for priorities that create the right conditions to support competitiveness, productivity, and growth.
Labour: Addressing Ontario’s labour market challenges by boosting immigration, removing barriers to labour mobility and introducing workforce development strategies for key sectors such as construction, health care, tourism, hospitality, and transportation.
Healthcare: Bolstering our health care system by developing a health human resources strategy, delivering on digital health, and addressing backlogs in routine vaccines, diagnostics, and cancer screenings.
Red tape: Continuing to prioritize lowering the administrative burden on business and ensuring that regulation is streamlined and effective.
Energy: Planning for Ontario’s long-term energy needs to ensure businesses and residents continue to have access to reliable, clean, and affordable energy for generations to come.
Housing: Propelling housing affordability through increased supply and regulatory reforms to fuel the industry and help organizations attract and retain talent.
Infrastructure: Advancing regional transportation connectivity and fare integration as well as broadband infrastructure projects in collaboration with the private sector.
Procurement: Modernizing public procurement to support small businesses and equity-seeking entrepreneurs to diversify the supply chain.
Climate: Seizing Ontario’s opportunity to lead in the global green economy by minimizing uncertainty, supporting cleantech, mobilizing clean energy solutions, and strengthening climate adaptation.
Locally, MPP Dave Smith is parliamentary assistant to both the Minister of Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. The OCC’s priorities for him include prioritizing economic reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs, providing everyone access to reliable high-speed internet, investing in mining in northern Ontario, and making regional immigration pilot programs permanent.
What’s clear is that the bar has been raised in terms of expectations. While there are some new faces, Doug Ford is leading a government more experienced than the last. The constantly changing threat of COVID-19 is fading as new challenges are arising. Over the next four years, chambers of commerce and boards of trade from across the province will be putting pressure on the government to bolster Ontario’s prosperity.