Speech from the Throne addresses health care, inflation and labor shortages

The Conservative government’s first Speech from the Throne after the election acknowledged the stressors in the health care system, but failed to mention many detailed solutions.

Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell delivered the speech at Queens Park on Tuesday afternoon.

The speech said the government is “actively engaging” with health system partners to identify workable 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,” the speech read.

The speech included many key elements of Ford’s campaign platform, including attracting investment in electric vehicle manufacturing, building new highways and investing in skilled trades to address labor shortages.

He also acknowledged continued 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 careful economic management in the months and years to come,” the speech said.

Following the conclusion of the Speech from the Throne, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy reintroduced the 2022 Ontario Budget Bill which had 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 5 per cent increase in Ontario Disability Support Program payments. Over the next few months, your government intends to introduce changes that will increase ODSP rates annually, linked to inflation,” the speech reads.

The refiled budget will also include $225 million over the next two years to provide direct payments to parents to “help children catch up” on education missed over the past 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 Speech from the Throne and the new budget for failing to respond adequately to inflationary pressures.

“Since the introduction of this budget, inflation has exploded. There’s not an element here to raise wages, offer relief from high prices, or stand up to companies that use inflation as an excuse to gouge. By staying the course, this budget leaves families continuing to pay high prices without any relief,” Fife said.

Fife said hospitals will feel increased pressure with this budget as inflation has not been taken into account. She fears that staff and programs will be reduced.

About Antoine L. Cassell

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