The second session of the 34th Parliament of the Province of Ontario opened at 1500 for the dispatch of business pursuant to a proclamation of the Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.
His Honour the Lieutenant Governor, having entered the chamber and being seated upon the throne, was pleased to open the session with the following gracious speech.
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE / DISCOURS DU TRÔNE
Hon Mr Alexander: Pray be seated.
Mr Speaker, members of the Legislative Assembly, ladies and gentlemen.
Bienvenue à l’ouverture de la deuxième session de la trente-quatrième législature de la province de l’Ontario.
Since taking office, my government has charted a course for securing a better future for the people of Ontario. We will continue to be guided by our reform agenda.
This session, my government will address the following priorities:
1. Building on our economic strengths to ensure tomorrow’s growth;
2. Investing in the future of our children by making our education system a more effective springboard to opportunity;
3. Reforming social assistance to help people move from dependence to self-reliance;
4. Keeping our communities and neighbourhoods safe and secure;
5. Promoting healthy lifestyles and preserving quality health care;
6. Providing leadership in environmental protection.
Today, my government will outline in general terms its approach for meeting these priorities. In the days ahead, cabinet ministers will provide details with respect to these initiatives, as well as other areas of government policy.
To achieve many of our objectives, the government of Canada must honour its funding commitments to joint programs. My government is deeply disturbed by past cutbacks and the erosion of federal commitment to joint programs in areas such as health, environment, post-secondary education, training, housing and forestry.
These programs are basic to Canada’s unique character. Further cutbacks in federal participation and commitment will weaken our ability to achieve economic and social priorities.
We must continue to have a dynamic and growing economy to preserve and enhance our quality of life.
Ontario has outpaced the industrialized world in economic expansion since 1982. Our economy has grown by 41 per cent and has created 800,000 new jobs.
We cannot take this success for granted. We must continue to provide the leadership to build on our economic strengths and ensure tomorrow’s growth.
The Premier’s Council on Technology has presented an action plan for competing in the international marketplace. We must adjust to a global economy that is characterized by greater competition, rapid technological innovation and diffusion, explosive growth of service industries and the emergence of new trading blocs.
My government will provide leadership by:
Aggressively pursuing new markets for our goods and services:
Targeting support to industries that provide maximum benefits for both workers and the economy;
Supporting the growth of Ontario-based companies as they compete in the global economy, and
Fostering an entrepreneurial culture that pro-motes the growth of new businesses.
Our primary emphasis will be placed on improving education, training and adjustment programs.
To invest in developing the skills of our people, my government will:
Support apprenticeship and other training arrangements that combine education and on-the-job training;
Help our workers to overcome barriers to training and employment:
Assist the re-employment efforts of workers, particularly older workers, affected by layoffs and plant closures:
Address present and anticipated shortages of skilled workers.
Next year, 1990, will be the International Year of Literacy. The inability to read is both a human and economic tragedy, whether reflected in the eyes of a parent unable to read a bedtime story to a child, or a worker unable to pursue career advancement. My government will act to improve the basic literacy skills of our workforce.
A purposeful and relevant education system is the key to realizing both the economic potential of our province and the individual potential of our people.
Our elementary schools must assist our children to develop basic learning and social skills in their early years. They must build on that foundation by setting high standards for achievement in subsequent years.
Our secondary schools must give our students the chance to acquire advanced knowledge and provide them with bridges to post-secondary education and the world of work.
At each of these levels a sense of excellence must be instilled.
My government is determined to improve the quality of education for our children. New initiatives will refocus our education system from kindergarten to the end of secondary school.
The early childhood years are the most important years for acquiring basic learning and social skills. The quality of education that our children receive in these critical foundation years will largely determine their ability to succeed at school and in later years.
My government believes that children have the capacity to benefit from education at an earlier age. Our education system must build on their natural curiosity and their capacity for early learning.
My government’s long-term vision is to make the opportunity for full-day junior and senior kindergarten available to all four- and five-year-olds.
As a first step, my government will:
Ensure that all school boards offer half-day junior kindergarten for four-year-olds as well as half-day senior kindergarten for five-year-olds, and
Provide funding to school boards to offer full-day senior kindergarten programs where classroom space permits.
These two initiatives will, over the next five years, provide parents with an opportunity to place their children in a stimulating learning environment at an early age.
As students move through the school system they must continue to develop a wider range of learning and life skills.
As part of an ongoing effort to improve the standard of education, my government has introduced a wide variety of initiatives including a commitment to reduce class sizes in grades 1 and 2. That initiative will be completed next year.
My government will also:
Revitalize the curriculum from grades 1 to 6 by focusing on the development of literacy, analytical and communication skills, and
Place a greater emphasis on assessing student performance and providing remedial help.
Grades 7 to 9 are critical years for helping students make the transition from the basic learning years in elementary school to more advanced and specialized studies in secondary school. My government will restructure those years to ensure a smoother transition.
My government is particularly concerned that we are requiring students to make career choices at an age when they have not yet discovered their full potential.
Therefore, my government will:
Ensure a core curriculum in grades 7, 8 and 9 that emphasizes the development of basic skills and progressive problem-solving;
Eliminate streaming in grade 9.
Our secondary school programs must build on the foundation of acquired learning skills. They must assist students to make informed career choices and address the broader economic needs of our province for a highly skilled workforce.
My government will:
Develop the final years of secondary school, grades 10 to 12, as years of specialization, and
Redesign technological education through updating and consolidating curriculum as well as renewal of teaching equipment. This will be undertaken in partnership with business, labour and our communities.
Grâce à ces mesures, nos enfants auront la possibilité d’acquérir les connaissances et compétences indispensables pour réussir sur le marché du travail ou dans leurs études postsecondaires.
We are determined to invest in the future of our children by making our school system a more effective springboard to opportunity.
In 1988-89 Ontario provided $2 billion for social assistance, an increase of more than 60 per cent since 1984-85. Yet the number of people needing social assistance continues to grow.
In the midst of great wealth, many single mothers must rely upon the generosity of others to help provide for their children. Many children are unable to reap the benefits of schooling because the pangs of hunger override the thirst for knowledge.
Poverty is often the lead domino in a chain of problems that encompasses poor health, a shorter life and lower educational achievement.
As a caring society, we cannot stand by and allow this tremendous loss of individual potential. My government recognizes that a new approach is needed. We must do a better job of providing all children with the possibility of a better way of life and the means of attaining it.
We must assist individuals to move from a life of dependence to a life of self-sufficiency.
We will continue to meet the needs of those who are unable to be self-sufficient. For those on social assistance who are capable of being self-reliant, we must do a better job of helping them to move into the mainstream by transforming welfare cheques into paycheques.
Accordingly, my government’s reforms to the social assistance system will include:
Increased payments for shelter support to persons on social assistance;
Removal of barriers which serve as disincentives to work;
Expansion of the network of employment counselling, referral, basic training and job preparation programs, and
Increased children’s benefits.
My government recognizes that social assistance reform must be viewed as a shared responsibility. Progress in this area will require the financial support and co-operation of all levels of government and the community at large.
We all take pride in the safety of our communities. Maintaining this sense of security is critical to our province’s future wellbeing and development.
My government is concerned about the recent adverse effects on the quality of life in our communities caused by drug and alcohol abuse, racial tension and incidents of violence.
My government will introduce a comprehensive anti-drug strategy which will consist of:
Education and prevention programs, including anti-drug education in primary and secondary schools, and community-based programs in high-risk neighbourhoods;
A wider range of treatment programs including employee assistance programs;
Expansion of Ontario’s drug enforcement capacity, including a strengthened Ontario Provincial Police drug enforcement unit.
My government will undertake a number of other measures to protect the quality of life in our communities, including:
Expanding our efforts to prevent violence against women and children;
Providing enhanced race relations training to better equip police to respond to the diverse needs of the community they serve;
Working with the Ontario Provincial Police and all municipal police forces to promote racial equality in employment;
Urging the federal government to effect immediate changes to the Young Offenders Act, and
Reforming our court system to improve access to justice.
My government believes that, as a matter of principle, every person is entitled to have access to quality health care regardless of ability to pay.
We are determined to preserve that principle, despite the pressures of an ageing population, the rapidly escalating cost of medical technology and the emergence of new diseases.
In 1987 my government established the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy. The council, which represents a partnership among business, labour, government, universities, health care professionals and consumers, is providing advice on how to better meet our future health needs.
The council has developed a broader vision of health for Ontario. This vision recognizes that good health is dependent upon a safe, nonviolent environment; adequate income, housing, food and education; and a person’s valued role in family, work and the community.
The council has identified five health goals:
Shifting the emphasis from treatment after the fact to health promotion and disease prevention;
Fostering strong and supportive families and communities;
Ensuring a safe and high-quality physical environment;
Increasing the number of years of good health for Ontarians by reducing illness, disability and premature death, and
Providing accessible, affordable, appropriate health services for all.
My government will introduce a number of initiatives to help realize these goals, including specific measures to address specialty care needs in areas such as emergency services, cancer care, cardiovascular services, dialysis, trauma, acquired immune deficiency syndrome and maternal and infant health.
A clean and safe environment is one of the cornerstones of our effort to promote better health. Ontario will continue to demonstrate leadership in environmental protection to ensure the quality of our air, water and food.
We recognize that this will require a broad effort that involves individuals, business and all levels of government. Environmental protection must be a shared responsibility.
As part of a global effort, we will encourage everyone to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover waste. In addition to preventing future environmental abuse, we will continue to restore environmentally damaged areas.
My government will introduce measures such as:
Requiring that vapours produced by automobile fuels, which contribute to air pollution, be reduced;
Strict control standards to cut automobile-produced acid rain emissions by one third by the year 2000;
A comprehensive Ontario waste reduction strategy designed to meet the target of reducing Ontario’s solid waste by 50 per cent by the year 2000;
Programs to stimulate the development of pollution abatement technologies;
A new lottery fund, Cleantario, to help finance our ongoing efforts to protect our environment;
Programs to encourage more efficient water use and conservation by both industries and individuals, and
Educational programs to help students develop a greater sense of personal responsibility for environmental protection.
My government’s foremost concern is to build a better future for our children. We want to ensure that every child is nurtured in an environment that provides adequate food, clothing and shelter. We know that we must attend to those basic needs if our children are to realize their full potential.
We want our children to grow up in communities that are safe and secure -- free of the fear of crime, free of physical abuse and free of the tyranny of drug and alcohol abuse.
We want our children to grow up in a society that promotes healthy living -- in its homes, in its schools and in its places of work.
We want our children’s individual efforts at living healthy lifestyles to be matched by a greater shared responsibility for our environment. We know that we must ensure that economic growth and environmental protection go hand in hand.
We want to provide our children with the basic knowledge and learning skills needed to seize the opportunities offered by the very different world of the 21st century.
Nous voulons qu’en envisageant l’avenir, nos enfants aient confiance en leurs aptitudes, soient fiers de leur diversité et n’éprouvent aucune inquiétude quant à leur qualité de vie.
Ontario is a prosperous society. Our province is a safe, clean and healthy place in which to live. We must make sure that it remains that way for all Ontarians.
Puisse la divine Providence vous guider dans vos délibérations.
In our Sovereign’s name, I thank you.
God bless the Queen and Canada.
His Honour the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to retire from the chamber.
The Speaker: I beg to inform the House that, to prevent mistakes, I have obtained a copy of His Honour’s speech, which I will now read. [Reading dispensed with.]
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
ONTARIO MUNICIPAL BOARD AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Hon Mr Scott moved first reading of Bill 1, An Act to amend the Ontario Municipal Board Act.
Motion agreed to.
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE
Hon Mr Conway moved that the speech of His Honour the Lieutenant Governor to this House be taken into consideration tomorrow, Wednesday, 26 April 1989.
Motion agreed to.
The House adjourned at 1530.