Throne Speech addresses health care, inflation, and labour shortages

© Can Stock Photo / njene

The Conservative government’s first Throne Speech after the election acknowledged the stressors in the health care system but did not mention many detailed solutions.

Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell delivered the speech at Queens Park Tuesday afternoon.

The speech said the government is “actively engaging” with health care system partners to identify actionable solutions.

“As your government addresses short-term stressors, it will continue to invest in and advance meaningful reform that in the long term builds a stronger, more resilient health system that better meets the needs of patients,” reads the speech.

The speech included many key parts of Ford’s campaign platform, including attracting electric vehicle manufacturing investments, building new highways, and investing in skilled trades to address the labour shortage.

It also acknowledged ongoing economic stressors and rising inflationary costs.

“Unprecedented spending throughout the pandemic has created new fiscal challenges here in Ontario and across Canada that will require prudent economic management in the months and years to come,” said the speech.

Following the conclusion of the Throne Speech, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy re-tabled the 2022 Ontario Budget Bill that was not passed before the election.

The budget document has changed slightly since it was tabled in the spring.

“Ontario’s Plan to Build will now include a five per cent increase in payments made through the Ontario Disability Support Program. In the coming months, your government intends to introduce changes that will increase ODSP rates annually, tied to inflation,” said the speech.

The re-tabled budget will also include $225 million over the next two years to provide direct payments to parents to “help kids catch up” on education missed over the last two years.

This is in addition to the previously announced $175 million tutoring support program.  More details will be released later in the year on how families can access this new support.

NDP Finance critic Catherine Fife criticized the throne speech and the re-tabled budget for not adequately addressing the inflationary pressures.

“Since this budget was introduced, inflation has exploded. There is not one item in here to raise wages, offer relief from high prices, or stand up to corporations that are using inflation as an excuse to gouge. By staying the course, this budget leaves families to keep paying high prices with no relief,” said Fife.

Fife said hospitals will feel increased pressure with this budget because inflation was not taken into consideration. She fears staff and programs will need to be cut.