As summer session concluded for the provincial government, the Doug Ford PCs say they delivered on their promise to address urgent issues.
Since being sworn into office on June 29, Ford immediately began changes to acts and programs that were put in place by past governments.
“In the last election we ran on our Plan for the People,” said Todd Smith, Government House Leader and Minister of Government and Consumer Services. “Since July, we have delivered key initiatives that will help lower gas prices and reduce your hydro bills, restore accountability and trust in government, and send a message to the world that Ontario is open for business.”
The PCs released a list of the actions and policies that have changed in “key priority areas” and these include:
The act was introduced to quickly “protect students” by ending the York University Strike. It also introduced transparency and accountability to Hydro One, and cancelled an industrial wind turbine project in Prince Edward County that had been improperly approved during the general election.
Probably the one affecting Toronto the most, the Better Local Government Act will reduce the size and cost of Toronto’s city council, which Doug Ford’s government says would save local taxpayers $25 million dollars that can be invested in other priorities. The Act will also prevent gridlock in Peel, York, Muskoka and Niagara by removing yet another layer of elected politicians.
The province introduced the Cap and Trade Cancellation Act, and if passed, it will allegedly save the average Ontario family $260 and bring gas prices down by 4.3 cents per litre. The proposed legislation will also include measures to help replace the cap-and-trade carbon tax with a different plan for achieving real environmental goals, according to the province.
Earlier this week, Doug Ford’s government said that following the federal legalization of cannabis on October 17, Ontario will immediately introduce an online retail channel for cannabis, to be followed by a private retail model by April 1, 2019. Starting on October 17, consumers age 19 and older will be able to purchase cannabis via an online retail platform provided by the Ontario Cannabis Store.
The province also said it would immediately begin consultations in advance of opening up “a tightly regulated private retail model for cannabis that will launch by April 1.”
The province said it will provide $40 million to municipalities over two years to help local governments keep their communities safe.
The Ontario government said it will be challenging Ottawa’s federal plan to impose a carbon tax on provinces.
According to Ford’s government, this challenge is the “next step in its fight to defend the people of Ontario from the federal government’s plan to impose a punishing new carbon tax on Ontario families and businesses.”
The province said that its position in court will be that the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act imposes an unconstitutional tax on Ontarians.
The Ontario PCs said that every province and territory agreed that “it is the federal government’s responsibility to pay for the mess that it has created from its own border policy decisions.”
In July, Doug Ford announced his government would be creating an Independent Financial Commission of Inquiry into the past government’s spending and accounting practices.
According to the province, the action is to “restore the public’s confidence in Ontario’s books,” and it will be lead by former BC Premier Gordon Campbell.
A few weeks ago, the Ford government said it is working on a plan to reform Social Assistance so that it can help more people break the cycle of poverty, re-enter the workforce and “get back on track.”
The PC Party has introduced an accelerated 100-day deadline to develop and announce a “sustainable” social assistance program. In the interim, the government will provide increase support rates for people on Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program by 1.5%, which is significantly lower than what was previously promised by the Liberals.
Additionally, as part of this reform, the Province will be winding down Ontario’s Basic Income pilot in order to focus resources on more proven approaches.
As part of the government’s commitment to bringing hydro bills down by 12%, it has cancelled pre-construction Green Energy Projects.
Soon after being elected, the Ontario government said it would no longer offer free prescriptions to kids and young adults with private coverage.
This move came just months after the Liberal Party granted Ontario residents 24 and under with private coverage access to free prescription drugs as part of the province’s new OHIP+ program, which helps make prescription drugs more accessible to approximately four million Ontario residents.
Now, children and youth who are not covered by private benefits will continue receiving their eligible prescriptions for free, while those covered by private plans will bill those insurers first and the government second.
The new system is said to be more efficient, saving the taxpayers money and dedicating resources to those who need it most.
As gun violence continues to rise in Toronto, the Ford government unveiled its plans to fight guns and gangs in the city.
Last Thursday, Premier Ford announced the provincial government is investing $25 million in new funding to provide local law enforcement with “tools and resources to protect innocent families from the menace of drug, gun and gang-related violence.”
In keeping with his populist campaign promises, Premier Doug Ford said he is bringing back buck-a-beer.
Going into effect on August 27, the new price floor will challenge Ontario’s 260 breweries to lower prices to $1.00 for any beer with an alcohol volume below 5.6% in time for Labour Day.
Currently, the retail price floor sits at $1.25 and while brewers won’t be mandated to lower prices, the ‘Buck-a-Beer Challenge’ encourages Ontario brewers to “receive LCBO promotional considerations such as limited-time discounts, in-store displays on end aisles and shelf extenders, or advertising in LCBO flyers and newspaper inserts.”
The new price will not apply to draft beer sold in restaurants and bars or ciders, spirits and wine.
With files from Ainsley Smith.