The winter session of Ontario’s legislature is set to begin today after a two-month break. While MPP’s and government ministers have been hard at work in their constituencies during the break, the reconvening of the legislature occasions the resumption of legislative debates and, importantly, the tabling of the provincial budget for fiscal 2020/21
Along with the start of a new session, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario will convene its policy convention in Niagara Falls on February 21-22. The Ontario Liberal Party will hold its Leadership Election in Toronto on March 7.
Here’s what you need to know about the upcoming session:
- 2020 Budget – Road to Balance
Last week, the Ministry of Finance wrapped up formal consultations for this year’s budget. Feedback was clear: a need to make life more affordable, continued investment in key services, and ensuring that the provincial government operates on sound financial footing.
With this feedback, the Ministry of Finance will take pen to paper and lay out the priorities for the next fiscal year. The 2020 budget will be tabled in early April around the same time as the federal government presents its first budget in this minority parliament.
The Ford government released its quarterly update in January. It projected a deficit of $9.0 billion in 2019–20, an improvement of $1.3 billion from the outlook presented in the 2019 Budget. Real GDP grew by 0.6 per cent, following a gain of 0.8 per cent in the second quarter.
- Red-Tape Reduction
Following on the heels of last April’s Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, the Ontario government is expected to continue its commitment to reduction in regulatory roadblocks for businesses and services in the province.
- Capital Market Regulations
Two weeks ago, the government announced the first Capital Markets Modernization Taskforce in the province in more than 15 years. The Taskforce is mandated to review and modernize the province’s capital markets regulations. The goal is to streamline capital market regulations by targeting regulatory burdens that stifle innovation, while levelling the playing field for small and medium-sized businesses. The government is also seeking recommendations to improve investor protection.
- Ontario Cannabis Market
Earlier this month, in a move designed to create a more open market for cannabis in the province, the Ontario government announced that it is considering allowing the establishment of cannabis lounges and cafes. The announcement triggered the launch of a public consultation on this proposal.
The Halfway Point – Mandate Fulfillment and Emergent Issues?
The end of this session will mark the halfway point of the Ford government’s mandate. We expect that the government will continue to address issues relating to the transit, alcohol modernization and affordability promises made during the last provincial election. However, province-wide teachers’ strikes and railway blockades are dominating the headlines. Therefore, the Ontario Conservatives will be tested as they seek to advance their policy agenda while at the same time dealing with emergent issues that typically bedevil governments of all political stripes.
Stay on top of it all with McMillan Vantage Policy Group.