Recently, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce asked Ontario’s incoming Premier, Kathleen Wynne, to answer five questions on how she would advance the Emerging Stronger Agenda and help business grow and prosper in the province. Here’s what she said….
1. What specific policies will you put in place in order to foster a culture of innovation?
I will work with small business by specifically proposing an increase in the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption threshold if this can be shown to accelerate job creation.
I will also work with financial institutions and government agencies to ensure that small and medium-sized enterprises have ease of access to capital required for expansion and innovation.
We also need to continue with our successful Southwest and Eastern Ontario Development Funds, which are supporting innovative companies in those regions.
I will expand our economic development initiatives province-wide: build on our comprehensive regional economic development initiatives, focusing on specific communities to enhance opportunities at the very local level. This includes a rural and northern economic development strategy.
Additionally, my education plan will support increased opportunities for graduate education and the entrepreneurial spirit of our undergraduate and graduate students.
2. What specific policies will you put in place in order to build a 21st century workforce?
I’ll introduce community hubs for adult education and training – coordinating government, non-profit, and private sector resources to give recent graduates, new Canadians and the unemployed practical tools to participate in the workforce.
We must also develop a sustainable model for wage negotiation – a structured dialogue with our partners in the broader public sector to create innovative models for engagement and negotiation. We cannot afford regular cycles of labour instability in the delivery of our valued public services.
I will continue to build upon record McGuinty Liberal infrastructure investments.
We will better prepare our students for the labour market by working with educators, colleges, business and industry to expand student work placements, internships, and co-op programs so more students gain valuable work experience.
We’ll also promote better use of credits by increasing their transferability between institutions and expanding our dual credit system.
3. What specific steps will you take in order to restore fiscal balance?
All Ontarians will prosper if we stay the course on our economic plan – eliminating the deficit by 2017-18 so we can get the province where it needs to be: deficit free, paying down debt, and ensuring Ontario is a prime environment for investment.
I’m also committed to restricting overall spending increases to 1% below GDP growth after 2017-18 until Ontario’s debt-to-GDP ratio returns to 27% – the pre-recession, 2007 level.
4. What specific policies will you put in place that will enable Ontario to take advantage of new opportunities in the global economy?
I will support the diversification of Ontario’s trade to global markets. I will follow Dalton
McGuinty’s lead by leading trade missions to vital markets, including China and India.
We also need to promote efficient cross-border movement through capacity improvements to the Detroit River Rail and Peace Bridge crossings.
In order to attract investment from around the world, we need to build on our record investments in infrastructure and transportation. That means working with the federal government on a national transit strategy – including a dedicated national transit fund that includes investment for Ontario, particularly for the Metrolinx transit projects in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
I’ve also called on the federal government to support an Ontario-Quebec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor – an efficient and secure multimodal transportation system for access to US markets.
5. What specific steps will you take to ensure Ontario makes the most of its competitive advantages?
I’m running because I believe that freedom and fairness and prosperity are indivisible. That’s the promise that I will keep as a Liberal, as Premier, as a mother and a grandmother: the promise of an economy that leaves no one behind.
That’s why investing in the public services Ontario families rely on is the centerpiece of my campaign. Implementing my four part plan will create jobs and grow the economy:
• The Way We Grow – creating jobs, attracting investment, and supporting innovation
• The Way We Care – investing in health and long-term care, reducing poverty, and protecting the environment
• The Way We Learn – building on our success in primary, secondary, and postsecondary education
• The Way We Govern – Ontario’s fair share from the federal government and enabling Ontario communities to prosper