Ontario legislature reconvenes amid health, housing and climate crises

The re-elected government of Ontario Premier Doug Ford is returning to Queen’s Park for its first session since the June election as it faces a growing health care, housing and cost-of-living crisis in the province.

The summer session begins on Monday with the provincial throne speech on Tuesday, after which Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy will resubmit the 2022 budget.

Bethlenfalvy published the budget in April, too late to be debated or approved in the legislature before the election.

The government has said the latest iteration is a “slightly modified” version of that document, which essentially served as an electoral platform for the Progressive Conservatives ahead of the election. The party swept away opposition parties to win another majority government.

The speech from the throne, delivered by the Lieutenant Governor. Elizabeth Dowdeswell will set out the government’s goals and plans for the next legislative session.

The government is unlikely to prioritize environmental problems or climate change. The April budget made little mention of the environment or climate, and the Ford administration was openly antagonistic toward green energy programs, electric vehicles, green belt protection and other pro-environment measures during its administration. first term as prime minister.

“Frankly, we don’t expect a big focus on the environment,” said Keith Brooks, director of programs for Toronto-based Environmental Defence.

The Ford administration has offered few plans on climate change or the environment, Brooks said, other than wanting to build new highways like the 413 and the Bradford Bypass.

“We’ll be looking to see, are they still talking about those roads?” Brooks said.

He said the organization will also follow any plans for housing and urban growth. Ontario expects a massive influx of people in the coming years, and municipalities are struggling to accommodate more people amid an already crushing housing crisis. Some have chosen to expand outwards onto farmland and green space. York Region Council recently approved a plan that would see its city limits cut into the once sacrosanct Greenbelt.

The summer session begins on Monday with the provincial throne speech on Tuesday, after which Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy will re-present the 2022 budget. #Onpoli

“We might expect there to be some change in direction,” Brooks said. “It’s not a certainty, that’s for sure, but if the prime minister really wants to present himself as a different person who listens to what the public wants and actually sees the evidence in front of him, then, you know, it’s not an impossibility. ”

The Ontario NDP, once again forming the official Opposition, called on the government to come up with a budget that “deals with the health care crisis and explosive inflation.”

Inflation has risen more than 8 percent since the April budget, he noted, and hospitals and other health care facilities are facing crushing staffing shortages that have closed emergency departments, reduced services and led to long wait times and health workers warning of a collapsed system.

“People are paying too high a price right now, in more ways than one,” interim NDP leader Peter Tabuns said in the statement. “It does not have to be this way. The throne speech and the budget are the opportunities to give people the hope and relief they deserve.”

Green Party leader Mike Schreiner said the government must act to tackle the climate crisis alongside those in health care, housing, affordability and other areas.

Green Party leader Mike Schreiner has said his party will push the government to tackle the climate crisis in his next term. File photo by Carlos Osorio/National Observer

“I would argue that climate is directly related to some of those issues,” Schreiner said, noting that floods and droughts were driving up food costs even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine strangled global grain supplies, and that public transport and electric vehicles… if available, provide relief from high fuel prices.

“There is a direct connection between addressing the climate crisis and addressing the affordability crisis that we face, especially when it comes to food, fuel and housing,” he said.

“The world is on fire right now and Ontario, at least in the first four years of the Ford administration, went in the wrong direction.”

Leave a Comment