I want to thank residents of Don Valley West for re-electing me as your Member of Provincial Parliament. Representing our community at Queen’s Park is a privilege which I do not take for granted. I am humbled by your continued trust.
As your MPP it is my job to work on broad provincial issues like improving our education and healthcare systems, promoting environmental protection, fighting poverty, and ensuring sound management of the province’s finances.
Equally important, though, it is my job to work to promote the interests of our communities on more specific local issues.
Aside from the Conservative proposal to fund private religious schools, the issue I heard the most about at the door over the course of the recent election campaign was the City of Toronto’s financial situation.
The City has significant work to do to make sure that it gets good value for taxpayers’ money and to bring its revenues into line with its expenditures. And the federal government, which finds itself with very large budget surpluses, must come to the table. But, there is also an important role for the province to play in uploading social service costs from the City of Toronto and in ensuring that we provide adequate support for public transit.
One of my major focuses in the months ahead will be advocating on residents behalf to make sure that the provincial government does its part in those areas.
As many of you will know, we have already delivered 2 cents of the gas tax to municipalities to help with public transit, which is worth over $300 million per year to Toronto. We have uploaded land ambulance and public health unit costs to the province. And, we have committed to upload the full cost of the Ontario Drug Benefit and the Ontario Disability Support Plan over the coming mandate.
A joint provincial – municipal review of social service costs is slated to report in February, and I trust that out of that review we will get strong recommendations on how best to continue to upload social service costs.
I look forward to the results of that review, and to continuing the work to ensure that we give the City every opportunity to get its house in order for the long term.