TORONTO – Ontario’s legislature resumes today with the Liberal government anxious to implement what it calls its “ambitious agenda” now that it has a majority.
The government is looking to pass more than 20 bills that died when the spring election was called.
Premier Kathleen Wynne says she also wants to move ahead with her efforts to create an Ontario pension plan, saying her implementation target of January 2017 sounds far away, but the government must “get moving” on the file.
Progressive Conservative Monte McNaughton says his party will spend the session holding the government to account, but he predicts that Ontario will see “more unemployment, more debt and cuts to front-line services” because of what he calls Liberal mismanagement.
The New Democrats – who held the balance of power in the previous session – say they’ll be the real opposition when the legislature resumes, as leader Andrea Horwath says the Progressive Conservatives are preoccupied with their leadership race.
The NDP says it plans to introduce a motion today that would require a public referendum before any government could sell the LCBO, OPG, Hydro One or Ontario Lottery and Gaming.
Wynne said the government will also be preparing for a fall economic statement and a new budget.
The Liberals are hoping to push through legislation including an infrastructure planning bill, a bill to index minimum wage to inflation and an accountability and transparency act, which would get MPPs to post expenses online and would make it an offence to destroy government records.
The opposition parties are expected to press the government for more details on a “bailout” of a real estate project in downtown Toronto.
The province gave a $224-million loan to help get a second tower built at the MaRS medical research centre across the street from the legislature, and paid $65 million to buy out an American real estate company involved in the project.
The government is also likely to face questions about alcohol sales and the possible sale of some public assets as it faces a $12.5-billion deficit.
The Liberals were under fire last session over allegedly deleted emails about their decisions to cancel gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga, which the auditor general has warned could cost taxpayers $1.1 billion. Wynne apologized repeatedly for the gas plants during this year’s election campaign, but has stressed the decisions were made on the watch of her predecessor, Dalton McGuinty.
The government is also aiming to re-introduce bills to help recoup unpaid traffic fines, to improve the College of Teachers’ discipline process and a youth smoking prevention act.