2003 - Speech From The Throne Strengthening The Foundation...

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Speech From The Throne - Strengthening The Foundation For Change - November 20, 2003 I. The Challenge We Face Together Mr. Speaker, members of the Legislative Assembly, citizens of Ontario: Canada lists among its hallmarks peace, order and good government. Ontario has a parliamentary tradition that allows for a peaceful and orderly transition from an old government to a new one. Following the recent election, I asked Dalton McGuinty to form the Government of Ontario. I then presided over the swearing-in of the new Premier and the Executive Council. Today, it is my privilege as Her Majesty's representative to deliver this new government's first Speech from the Throne. Your new government looks to the future with high hopes. It knows what Ontarians can do because it has seen what Ontarians have done. There have been pulls on the seams in our social fabric -- but this fabric has refused to tear. There have been challenges to the health of our economy -- but this economy remains strong. There have been those who would dismiss our values as out of date -- but these values have proven timeless. Ontarians can do anything, when they work, and dream, and build together. What they ask of their government is honesty, responsibility, hard work, innovation, and a genuine commitment to the future. Your new government is honest enough to tell you about the challenges we face. So here are the facts: Ontario faces a major problem, one that stands in the way of a better future for all of us. And it's urgent that we fix it. It threatens the important public services we have now, and our opportunity to improve them in the future. This isn't lofty rhetoric. This is down-to-earth reality. Your new government asked former Provincial Auditor Erik Peters to give you the straight goods on Ontario's budgetary position. He reported that Ontario faces a $5.6 billion inherited deficit. Irresponsible tax cuts have meant that, since the year 2000, program spending has grown more than ten times faster than tax revenue. Ontario's economy is strong, but the provincial government's finances are weak, and that threatens the public services we all need to keep our economy strong. The state of the province's finances is simply not sustainable or affordable -- not for Ontario families, and certainly not for their children and grandchildren. Your new government will take this challenge on, working with you. It will not paper over this problem with money it does not have. It will not try to make it disappear with accounting tricks. And it will never sit on its hands and do nothing.
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If it did nothing, the $5.6 billion inherited deficit would grow to $7.7 billion next year, and nearly $8.6 billion in 2007. That's not an option, not when the amount Ontario already spends on servicing the provincial debt -- $8.7 billion -- is almost as much as we spend on our schools.
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