Sandra Pupatello — For a Change / Pour le changement Mon, 28 Jan 2013 20:45:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Thank you! Mon, 28 Jan 2013 20:29:14 +0000 admin First, I want to thank my tremendous team of supporters and volunteers.Your enthusiasm and your dedication made this all worthwhile.
I also need to acknowledge the incredible support I received from members of the Liberal caucus, my loving family, and especially my husband Jim Bennett.

It was great travelling the province, sharing the Liberal message of renewal and hope, and meeting so many of you. I said yesterday I wouldn’t have missed this experience for the world, and I meant it.

I want to also congratulate all of the Ontario Liberals who worked so hard on behalf of the other candidates. Your involvement is what makes this party great and I urge you to stay involved and keep supporting our great cause.

Lastly, I want to congratulate our new Leader, and Premier, Kathleen Wynne.

Yesterday, we made history. We elected the first female Premier of Ontario – a strong, talented and passionate Leader. But our work begins today. Let’s build on the foundation we laid over the course of this Leadership campaign; Let’s commit to working together. Let’s emerge from this race stronger and more united than ever before.


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The Plan Forward: Ontario’s Social Policy Fri, 21 Dec 2012 15:45:43 +0000 admin Our current Liberal government has made clear its commitment to building a strong social safety net in which Ontario’s most vulnerable can put their trust. For nine years, ground has been gained in the struggle against poverty and helping those in need. But more work needs doing, and it is our government’s responsibility to help those too often overlooked.

The goals of our social policy must be permanent, and our work temporary – not the other way around. Anyone seeking assistance should not feel it is a hole from which they see no prospects, but rather a short-term bridge to a better future.

Where we have lost past partnerships, such as with affordable housing, we must innovate and find new sources of funding. Where important benefits might be lost, such as when a family has started on a path away from assistance, we should help shield them from burdensome and fleeting new costs. If we hope to finish reforming our system, these and other challenges must be acknowledged and tackled, with our priority being a renewed approach to social policy.


Developmental Services

Ontario boasts a wide range of services and support systems for persons with developmental disabilities. Over the past half-century, we have seen these services evolve from institutional-based care, to community and residential supports, and increasingly to direct supports for individuals and their families.

Although significant steps have been taken to transform the current system and provide it with needed resources, many Ontarians with developmental disabilities and their families continue to find the system challenging and face long wait times.

A crucial period for any family is the transition to adulthood by a child or young adult with a developmental disability. A large range of services and supports focused on children are no longer available and, in many cases, young adults face unacceptably long wait times for services.

To sufficiently address these challenges, more must be done to continue and expedite the transformation of our developmental services system to better support families and persons with developmental disabilities begin their adult journey. Additional effort needs to focus on:

  • Better and earlier planning and coordination between Ministries to ensure transition between child and adult support systems is as seamless as possible;
  • Developing an action plan to address wait lists and ensure that urgent cases requiring a higher level of service are given appropriate priority;
  •  Working with service providers to create more options for people with developmental disabilities and their families, empowering them to make decisions that are in the best interests of their loved ones;
  •  Renewing our focus on respite care,to support families who dedicate their lives to supporting their loved ones.


Affordable & Supportive Housing

We know that many adults with developmental and physical disabilities benefit greatly from being connected to and interacting with the community they live in. Such benefits are even more pronounced when they have access to periodic in-home medical supports to assist them with the activities of daily living.

Unfortunately, too many of our most vulnerable citizens still have difficulty accessing the range of supports that make this kind of assisted living possible.

We also know that there is significant demand for supportive, affordable housing. The province cannot meet this demand alone. That is why it is essential to create new and innovative partnerships to meet these increasing demands and reduce existing wait lists. In order to better address these challenges, emphasis must be placed on:

  • Creating new integrated supportive housing models as a way to assist individuals to live in communities that allow them to connect and contribute to the world around them while maintaining their independence;
  •  Launching a new housing initiative that brings together our social service agencies and private sector partners to find creative ways to develop supportive and social housing, as has been done in other jurisdictions such as British Columbia and in the United Kingdom;
  •  Pushing for a larger role from the Federal Government to be a strong partner in funding social housing. At one time, the Federal Government played a significant role in a thriving housing strategy – we need them back at the table as funding partners to help clear waiting lists for affordable housing, and to work with our province on exciting new initiatives.


Social Assistance

Ontario’s social assistance system provides financial support, as well as employment benefits to Ontarians in financial need, including persons with disabilities.

Although significant steps have been taken to transform the system, it is widely recognized that major changes are needed to address the challenges faced by both those receiving assistance, as well as many low-income Ontarians.

As part of Ontario’s poverty reduction strategy, a major review of the system was undertaken, leading to the recent report, Brighter Prospects: Transforming Social Assistance in Ontario. This report showed that, among many significant problems facing the system, there are: growing caseloads; overly complex sets of rules and regulations; and most importantly, ineffective employment supports – particularly for persons with disabilities.

As a system of last resort, we require that individuals exhaust most of their assets in order to qualify for support. With many unemployed Ontarians unable to access Employment Insurance, many are forced into a system that actually hampers their ability to rejoin the workforce and maintain financial sustainability.

Finally, under the current system, recipients of social assistance are able to access certain health benefits while they are in receipt of assistance. Studies have found that fear of losing these benefits can act as a barrier to leaving social assistance – a phenomenon known as the “welfare wall”. Some progress was made when our government extended basic health benefits such as prescription, vision and dental coverage for a period of six months for anyone leaving Ontario Works for employment.

However, these kinds of smaller, incremental steps toward reform of the system are no longer delivering the value that Ontarians and our province need. We must commit to significant, thoughtful reform of Ontario’s social assistance programs, including:

  • Expediting reform and transformation of our social assistance system to better support low-income Ontarians and assist them in connecting both to the labour market and the broader community. We will not be afraid to innovate, experiment and adopt global best practices in the search for solutions.
  •  Designing and implementing a broader range of employment supports that can be tailored to the individual needs of the client. We will remove disincentives to work and place reasonable expectations on people to take the steps needed to rejoin the workforce and achieve financial independence.
  •  Ensuring that persons with a disability have access to this expanded range of supports, as well some specific to addressing disability-related barriers. We will develop better linkages between employers and persons with disabilities through such measures as the use of employer champions to sell the economic benefits of tapping into this underutilized pool of workers, and the introduction of voluntary hiring benchmarks.
  •  Working toward the creation of a benefit program outside of social assistance that may act as a loan program for those experiencing short term unemployment who do not meet the asset requirement of Ontario Works. It may also provide an extension of benefits for low income earners who cannot access benefits through any other means.


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The Plan Forward: Rural Ontario Mon, 17 Dec 2012 19:00:36 +0000 admin Ontario is a rich, diverse province that is larger and more complex than many of the world’s countries. Along with boundless opportunities, our vast province presents us with unique challenges. No matter where Ontarians live, they share identical needs: rewarding employment, safe and healthy communities, and access to good health care and schools.

We must capitalize on the economic opportunities that exist across the province, recognizing that this will often demand a flexible, regional approach. To ensure economic progress that embraces all Ontarians, we must remember that one size never fits all.

Our plan for prosperity in rural Ontario hinges on regional flexibility. For a farm family in Niagara, this might mean greater access to world markets. To a machinist working in a small business outside of Cobourg, it could mean a steady stream of orders from an auto parts plant in Windsor. For guides working in a fishing lodge in northern Ontario, prosperity depends on a healthy tourism industry.

We will identify proven global best practices for local situations in rural Ontario. We will implement them quickly to deliver local results. To achieve this, we present a three-point plan to tap the tremendous potential of rural Ontario.

1:            Prioritize Rural Ontario opportunities and challenges with a single access window into government for rural municipalities, rural businesses and farmers.

A single point of access into government will ensure that the unique opportunities, challenges and priorities facing rural Ontario are given the priority they need.

This rural-focused approach will support efforts to:

  • Strengthen rural economic development funding programs.
  • Expedite the infrastructure needed for economic growth in rural areas.

Create a specialized attraction model for rural communities (with local governments) to encourage more investment.


2:            Capitalize on the unique opportunities offered by rural Ontario

Rural jobs strategy: We will develop and implement a rural jobs strategy to build on the economic advantages of rural Ontario – an action plan to maintain and create jobs for rural Ontarians. Innovation happens throughout the province, including rural Ontario. Our rural jobs strategy supports rural Ontario in innovation and helps harness the creativity and advantages of people in rural Ontario. Our jobs strategy will include support and resources for entrepreneurs in rural Ontario to create or improve their businesses, create jobs and attract new investments. We will also work with rural municipalities to be investment ready.

Ontario’s home-grown advantage: We will re-introduce the Local Food Act, and include opportunities to create unique brands for the foods our province produces. Whether it’s Millbank Cheese, Ontario Corn Fed Beef, or any of the hundreds of other uniquely Ontario food products, the bounty of our province’s farms is something we can celebrate and share with the world.  We will enhance access to emerging markets (e.g. beef/pork to Asia) to take advantage of global opportunities. There are countless global opportunities we simply must explore.

Exploit agri-food and bioproduct opportunities: The agri-food and bioproducts sector is another area of tremendous potential for rural Ontario. Innovative companies in places like Sarnia and Chatham are building a local bio-economy, replacing some petroleum-based products with bio-based inputs to create new plastics, fuels and chemicals.

We will continue to create domestic and international opportunities for the agri-food industry, one of the two largest manufacturing sectors in the province. This wide-ranging sector (including farmers, input suppliers, researchers, processors, distributors, retailers and consumers) offers rural Ontarians great potential to innovate and enter new global markets.

Develop rural tourism potential: Among its many economic advantages, rural Ontario offers unique natural environments that are increasingly attractive in a crowded world. My government will partner with the tourism industry and rural communities to attract new tourist business to rural Ontario.  In our vast province, every region has a unique opportunity to market their locale for new growth and development.

In addition to capitalizing on these identified areas of potential in rural Ontario, we will use the recommendations of the forthcoming Rural Roots strategy – being led by former MPP Lou Rinaldi – as a blueprint for further engagement and better delivery of services.


3:            Bring regional flexibility to government policies and priorities

Localized solutions: Achieving broad government goals demands flexible solutions that carefully consider regional needs and conditions. We will ensure that the government applies a rural perspective to challenges across Ontario. This new approach will:

  • Apply a rural lens to energy policy.
  • Continue the one-third cost match infrastructure programs for rural infrastructure investments.
  • Support the recommendations of the Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel.
  • Build on the success of Open for Business in Agriculture, Agri-food (and beyond) to ensure smart and effective regulation that supports business and protects the public interest.
  • Give small towns a share of the gas tax to assist with local transportation issues.

Image: NapaneeGal

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The Plan Forward: Jobs and the Economy Thu, 13 Dec 2012 17:30:55 +0000 admin  Ontario’s dynamic and diversified economy is built on a solid foundation. We have a wealth of skilled workers and one of the best education systems in the world. Our tax environment is amongst the most competitive of all major jurisdictions. Crucial investments in health care, energy and infrastructure made over the last decade will produce dividends for many years to come. As recently as November 2012, the Conference Board of Canada projected that Ontario will rebound from weak economic growth of 1.8% this year to 2.1% in 2013 and 2.6% the year after.

Despite these strengths, there are still far too many Ontarians looking for work. The uncertain global economic outlook and fierce competition in world markets will prove challenging. We will proceed cautiously. After a thorough review of Ontario’s fiscal health, we will move our plan forward to build on Ontario’s economic strengths, focused on six key steps:


STEP ONE: Work locally, trade globally

With its relatively small domestic markets, Ontario relies on exports to create and sustain jobs at home. Today, about 77 per cent of Ontario exports go to the United States, followed by over 10 per cent to the European Union. Meanwhile, our exports to the growing economies of China and India comprise less than two per cent of the total.

The status quo is not an option when it comes to Ontario’s export efforts. We need to diversify our export markets, with an intense focus on the fast-growing emerging economies. We will:

  • Boost efforts to support our exporters, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, to gain access to these emerging new markets.
  • Align Ontario’s export efforts with those of Export Development Canada and other financing agencies.
  • Work with the federal government to ensure trade agreements are beneficial to Ontario companies.
  • Develop a plan to ensure our youth can gain greater global experience from an Ontario base.


STEP TWO: Keep Ontario open for business

The Open for Business process has driven the modernization of Ontario’s regulatory framework. Over the last decade, Liberal governments have made great progress on lifting the regulatory and tax burden on businesses. Today, our corporate and small business tax rates are very competitive worldwide. We’ve also eliminated more than 80,000 unnecessary regulations, while also protecting the public interest.

Government and business must continue to collaborate to eliminate barriers to economic growth. We will:

  • Continue to remove regulatory and other impediments to speed the investment process.
  • Benchmark best practices for investment attraction from other jurisdictions and focus on sectoral strategies and incentives.
  • Leverage the strengths of Select Ontario, the province’s award-winning GIS-based site selection tool for investors.
  • Enhance workplace training programs to meet both employer and employee needs.
  • Align government resources to provide simple, easy access and timely responses for businesses.
  • Offer investors options like shovel-ready sites, a coordinated approach for expansion and investment in Ontario, and a 24/7 live help desk.


STEP THREE: Boost Ontario’s lead in innovation and entrepreneurship

With strong support from its economic development ministries, Ontario has produced many of the world’s best innovators and entrepreneurs. As just one example, Canada’s world-renowned information and communications technology (ICT) sector is concentrated in Ottawa, Kitchener-Waterloo, and the Greater Toronto area. Each cluster focuses on specific areas of ICT, creating prime conditions for R&D collaboration, synergy, and spin-off companies.

Ontario is also home to a budding digital media sector, accompanying other cultural industries in the film, television, music and publishing sectors. Combined, over $20 billion annually is pumped into the province’s economy through our vibrant cultural industries.

To leverage these strengths, we will:

  • Create entrepreneur hubs for easy access to programs, mentoring and incubators.  Leverage regional innovation centres across Ontario to provide opportunities for collaboration and for innovators to work with seasoned business leaders.
  • Ensure the flow of global capital to Ontario start-ups, by removing regulatory barriers and seeking new global venture capital funds to participate in the Ontario market.
  • Foster entrepreneurship through Ontario’s education system.
  • Encourage the development community to incorporate more clean technology in their businesses, while helping Ontarians become more environmentally sustainable.
  • Nurture our vital cultural industries through programs like those run by the Ontario Media Development Corporation to support book and magazine publishing, film and television, interactive digital media, and music industries.
  • Offer incentives to build sustainable communities by incorporating planning that supports renewable technologies, public transit, energy efficiency and conservation so that more clean technology gets built into our communities making Ontario environmentally sustainable.


STEP FOUR: Build stronger support for jobs and growth in rural Ontario.

 Our government must ensure that its business support programs are tailored to the specific needs of regions in rural Ontario. Programs should give fair consideration to projects of all sizes, as long as they have a meaningful impact on the local community. In a small town, as few as five new or lost jobs can mean the difference between a healthy or unhealthy economic environment. We must:

  • Continue to strengthen rural economic development funding programs.
  • Expedite the infrastructure needed for economic growth in rural areas.
  • Create a specialized attraction model for rural communities (with local governments) to encourage more investment.


STEP FIVE: Turbocharge the energy economy to enable more investment

 A “Best Practices, Best Price” policy will serve us best, allowing us to blend our long-term energy mix for effective environmental and economic policy.

  • Energy plans must be both sustainable and affordable for residents and industry.
  • We will continue to phase out coal-fired generation, while phasing in cleaner sources in an affordable fashion.
  • We will reaffirm our commitment to contracted Power Purchase Agreement holders, to enable the investment in their projects and send the message that Ontario will keep its obligations.
  • The economics of government procurement, even with the use of private generation, benefit from economies of scale.  Best practises means learning from those jurisdictions that paid and paved the way to more efficient results.
  • We will insist on open, competitive processes to get best pricing on future partnerships with power generation and transmission companies.
  • The responsibilities of government agencies implementing energy policy must be simplified for overall planning and efficiency.
  • Under this leadership, proponents will seek early municipal support for energy generation projects.


STEP SIX: Strengthen urban and regional communities

Vibrant urban and regional centres are the heart of a strong provincial economy.

Generating 20 per cent of Canada’s GDP, the Greater Toronto Area is home to 40 per cent of Canada’s head offices, and the world’s best banking system, according to the IMF.  In a 2012 study, Toronto ranked as the 2nd most business competitive global city.

 There is an urgent need to unify and combine the various agencies that now serve the GTA. We must: 

  • Take steps to strengthen cooperation between regional bodies, including economic marketing agencies.
  • Eventually combine these resources in one body, to speak with one voice to market the region to investors and business leaders worldwide.
  • Create an integrated public transit system that seamlessly serves commuters across the region.
  • Take advantage of the many benefits which would flow from a private/public development of a high-speed rail line to serve the people in the Windsor-Quebec City corridor, while retaining public ownership of the infrastructure.
  • Push for annualized transit funding from the federal government to supplement Ontario’s $12 billion+ investment in GTA public transit and reflect Toronto’s status as a global city.

Image: Toyota

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The Plan Forward: Northern Ontario Sun, 09 Dec 2012 16:00:49 +0000 admin More than ever we are looking at the opportunities that exist in Northern Ontario to boost the economy, create jobs and create long-term prosperity not only for the North, but for all of Ontario.  This plan includes steps to continue support for the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) to encourage local decision-making, making the Northern Industrial Energy Rate Program permanent, and developing a long-term plan for the Trans-Canada Highway.

We’re offering Northern-specific policies for the economy, health care, and issues concerning youth, education, and Aboriginal partnerships.

The world is moving quickly – we will identify global best practices that work and deliver results.


Jobs and Economy

Where we are

Over the last 9 years, The NOHFC has invested over $745 million to support business in the North. More than 4,500 projects have created almost 20,000 jobs. The resource sector has also seen a tremendous growth, providing high-quality job opportunities for northerners. At the same time, more new mines opened in Ontario than anywhere else in Canada. The value of annual mineral production in Ontario was $10.7 billion in 2011.

The Plan Forward

With the structural changes to the world economy, Northern Ontario’s economic strength has never been more important to all Ontarians. We will develop a strong plan to harness the region’s immense potential and create long-term prosperity.

  • Continued support for the NOHFC to encourage local decision-making and help communities grow their economies.
  • Making the Northern Industrial Energy Rate Program (NIERP) permanent to support Northern industries in the global marketplace and help them plan for future growth.
  • A long term plan for the Trans-Canada Highway that will call on the Federal Government to restore their share of funding to 50%, along with infrastructure improvements to support increased economic activity along the Trans-Canada.
  • Promoting opportunities for Value-Added Jobs in natural resource extraction and processing to maximize benefits to Northern Ontario with a focus on growing trade opportunities around the world.
  • Maximizing opportunities in the Ring of Fire region, with a renewed emphasis on infrastructure development and collaboration with the mining sector.
  • Working with the forestry sector by helping mills modernize and supporting new bio-product market opportunities. 


Health Care

Where we are

The last decade has seen steady improvement in access to primary care for northern communities. Physician recruitment programs are attracting more doctors to underserviced areas. Thousands more Northern Ontarians have access to a family doctor than in 2003.

The Plan Forward

We must ensure that Northerners have greater access to specialized health care services in their communities. We will make greater investments in community-based care, with more out-of-hospital healthcare options like home care and supportive housing tailored to Northern Ontario’s aging population and unique geography. We will improve the Northern Health Travel Grant program by simplifying the application process, ensuring faster reimbursements, and making the program more flexible to the needs of Northerners.


Youth, Education, and Aboriginal Partnerships

Where we are

Major advancements have been made in post-secondary educational opportunities in Northern Ontario, including the establishment of Algoma University, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, the School of Architecture at Laurentian University, and the law school at Lakehead University.

The Plan Forward

We need to create more employment opportunities for young people, encouraging them to stay or settle in Northern Ontario when they complete their studies:

  • Creating Job Opportunities for Young People by leveraging the NOHFC Emerging Technology, Northern Ontario Young Entrepreneur and Youth Internship and Co-op programs to support young people in their transition from school to work.
  • Partnering with Industry to match young people’s skills with the demand for workers in advancing sectors such as technology, mining and energy.

We must work with Aboriginal communities, as partners, to achieve greater engagement and continue to help create economic opportunities:

  • Building strong, respectful relationships by working with Aboriginal community partners to develop sustainable, long-term economic opportunities.
  • Working with Aboriginal leadership to hold the Federal Government accountable for their responsibilities towards First Nation communities.

Image: eskimo_jo

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