Building roads, highways, transit will fuel economy: Throne Speech

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

The provincial government’s ultimate goal, according to Monday’s Speech from the Throne, is avoiding future lockdowns.

“In support of this goal, your government continues to make investments to build up Ontario’s hospital capacity,” said Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell.

“That is why your government has made unprecedented investments to add thousands of new hospital beds and ensure that qualified nurses and doctors are by a patient’s side when they need care.”

As a result, Ontario now has one of the highest rates of intensive care beds in Canada

Historic investments will be continued to build and redevelop hospitals across the province, like the newly-constructed Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital, which initially operated as a province-wide resource to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients during the third wave of the pandemic and subsequently opened as a full-service hospital.

Announced funding will also build a new hospital in Brampton, transforming Peel Memorial Centre from a day clinic into a state-of-the-art, 24-hour facility.

And the government is “making progress” to build to build a new hospital in Windsor-Essex.

Long-term care facilities are also a priority in the throne speech with a $2.68 billion to build 30,000 new and modern long-term care home beds in a decade, as thousands more are upgraded to 21st-century design standards.

In total, there are more than 20,000 new and 15,000 upgraded beds in development, representing more than 60 per cent of the province’s goal.

The commitment to an economic and fiscal recovery must be fueled by economic growth, not painful tax hikes or spending cuts, Dowdeswell said in the speech.

“To do so, your government will build Ontario. Build roads and highways. Build and expand transit to communities across the province. Build an economy that makes Ontario the best place in the world to do business, work and raise a family – no matter where you live in the province. This is how Ontario will create the conditions for long-term economic growth,” Dowdeswell said.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees reacted by calling on Ford to commit to a major promise from the 2018 election that has not yet been fulfilled – cutting income taxes by 20 per cent for the second income-tax bracket.

According to CUPE, take-home  pay is falling behind in part due to the Ford government cancelling a plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and capping wage increases for public sector workers at one per cent.

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