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Health, education, transport and mayors: Speech from the Throne, the expectation is growing

TORONTO – Public education, health, transport, new powers for mayors. These are the major issues that will be addressed in Tuesday Speech from the Throne, when Deputy Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell will outline the government’s agenda for this new provincial legislature. 

The Ford executive resulting from the vote of June 2 in recent weeks has confirmed its intention to accelerate in certain areas in this very early phase of the legislature. The first burning file is that relating to public health. Put to the test by the challenge launched by the Covid-19 pandemic, the provincial health sector is experiencing a phase of crisis exacerbated by the chronic shortage of nurses and medical staff. The situation – which is becoming really unsustainable – has led to the closure of the emergency rooms of numerous hospitals in all regions of the province.

Last week, Prime Minister Doug Ford, while admitting the difficulties recorded in health care, tried to minimize, pointing the finger at the federal government and demanding more investment from Ottawa. It is obvious that the theme will be addressed in the Discourse from the Throne, where the measures of the immediate future to buffer the emergency will be outlined in broad outlines.

The same goes for the school sector. A hot autumn is expected for public education, with teachers without contracts – it will expire on August 31 – and trade unions on a war footing.

The social partners are calling for significant wage increases – Cupe has gone so far as to propose an increase in payroll of 11.7% – while the executive is ready to make some concessions, but the distances are still sidereal. In addition to this, the government will have to propose the new guidelines for the safety of students and school staff in view of the possible eighth autumn wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the government agenda there will also be a chapter dedicated to transport, the real workhorse of the Progressive Conservative during the last electoral campaign.

In particular, the government will have to present the roadmap for the planned construction of Highway 413, as well as other projects such as the Hamilton LRT and the Bradford Bypass. Again, we will be faced with billion-dollar investments in multi-year development projects.

Finally, the proposal launched by Ford in July on the possible reform of the powers of the mayors of the largest cities in the province is awaited.
The prime minister has hinted that the government intends to put its hands back in the modus operandi of city administrations, a bit like what happened in the previous legislature when the executive decided to cut the number of city councilors in Toronto.

The prime minister’s intention, in particular, is to give greater powers to the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa, but there is strong pressure for this reform plan to also involve other important urban centers of Ontario such as Hamilton, Windsor, London, Mississauga or Brampton.

In the meantime, already tomorrow there will be the first institutional obligation to be carried out in Queen’s Park, with the election of the Speaker: Nina Tangri challenges the outgoing president Ted Arnott.

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