Ontario’s speech from the throne was more of a COVID update then a legislative laundry list. Lieutenant-Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell, delivering the speech, said the Ford Government is focused on avoiding future lockdowns, but should they become necessary, they will be limited and targeted. The speech promised no drastic spending cuts nor tax hikes.
She said, thanks to Ontario’s high vaccination rates — more than 86 per cent of eligible residents have received at least one dose — the province is entering a “new phase” of the pandemic, and while cases may rise as people head indoors it won’t be cause for panic
In terms of spending promises the speech reiterated previously-announced support for the long-term care sector, both in terms of creating new spaces and in modernizing existing spaces. Without providing specifics the speech alluded to a significant transit and roads investment program.
Referring to the recent imposition of vaccination certificates the Lieutenant-Governor said, “Your government did not make the decision to require proof of vaccination easily. The struggle to strike the appropriate balance between long-established rights and freedoms and the need to do what is necessary to protect lives has been this and other governments’ most significant challenge.” She added, “Ontario cannot go backwards. After 18 months of fighting this pandemic, we owe our businesses stability and certainty.”
The speech noted that Ontario is investing nearly $5 billion over four years to hire more than 27,000 long-term care staff, including nurses and personal support workers. This will provide long-term care home residents with four hours of direct care per day.
The speech will be discussed in the legislature tomorrow as the province holds its first question period in months.