Well, good morning!
My friends, it’s good to be with you today.
I have to thank Jamie McGarvey and the entire AMO leadership team for going the extra mile this year to make sure this conference could happen.
It’s never been more important to bring our municipal leaders together and stand united because these are extraordinary times.
I also want to recognize our dedicated Ministers and caucus who have been working around the clock during the pandemic ― Minister Elliott, Minister Clark and Minister Philips, and others who you will hear from.
My friends, the relationship with our municipal partners is more important than ever. And now more than ever, the people of Ontario expect us to work together.
This virus has brought great hardship to your communities.
I know that people out there are struggling.
But I am here today with a message of hope.
Because I believe in Ontario.
I believe in the great people of this province.
I believe that we have everything we need to come back stronger than ever before.
We have shown it’s possible.
Before the pandemic, our economy was on fire. Ontario was booming.
In 18 short months, we created over 307,000 net new jobs in Ontario.
We did it once, and we will do it again.
I see it out there. I’ve been criss-crossing the province, meeting with Mayors, meeting with business owners and workers.
I’ve visited everywhere from Leamington to Niagara Falls, from Ajax to Bobcaygeon.
And I can tell you, the Ontario spirit is alive and well.
People are ready to get back to work, ready to rebuild what we have lost.
Everywhere I go, I meet with mayors and municipal officials. I hear firsthand the challenges and the successes.
You are leading the charge. As the level of government closest to the people, you’ve been on the front lines each step of the way.
Thanks to your hard work, all of the province has now entered into Stage 3.
Companies and stores are opening back up. People are getting back to work.
But as Premier, I can’t stop and I won’t stop until we get every community back on its feet.
That’s why we negotiated with our federal partners to deliver over $7 billion for Ontario. This is money for health care, for transit, for childcare, and for testing and contact tracing.
Up to $4 billion will support the frontline services delivered by you, our municipal partners.
Up to $4 billion will support shelters, food banks, public health, child care, and transit.
This is a great deal for Ontario and it’s a great deal for our municipalities.
We are delivering $1.6 billion as part of this first round to help you address immediate needs.
We will continue to consult with you to see how the next round can respond to the most urgent needs in our communities.
I have to thank all 444 municipal leaders across Ontario for their incredible support in getting this deal done.
You stood behind us during these negotiations.
We negotiated as Team Ontario with one voice.
My friends, the Safe Restart Agreement is good news for all of us. It builds on the investments we’ve already made through Ontario’s Action Plan.
Our government is delivering up to $30 billion to support our frontline health care system, to provide relief to families and businesses, and to ensure municipalities can respond to urgent priorities.
That includes $510 million through the Social Services Relief Fund, $15 million to enhance transit cleaning, and $14 million for community-based mental health and addictions services.
These supports are critical to helping communities recover and helping people get back on their feet.
I know you are all looking for certainty as you approach budget planning for the next year.
That’s why I am pleased to announce today that, for next year, our government is maintaining the $500-million envelope and structure of the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund.
This funding will help municipalities support local priorities, and recognizes the unique challenges facing our northern, remote and rural communities.
We will continue to review the program in consultation with our municipal partners to ensure it meets the needs of our communities, especially for our small, rural and northern municipalities.
As I have said before, we will do everything in our power to help Ontario get through this.
No community will be left behind.
I won’t stop until every community is back on their feet.
And we’re well on our way.
There were over 528,000 jobs added in June and July. Over half a million people are back to work ― 72,000 new jobs in manufacturing and 47,500 new jobs in construction.
This recovery in jobs has brought employment to over 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
But we need to keep it going.
And there’s no better way to get our economy going than making critical investments in infrastructure.
That’s why we are making it easier to get shovels in the ground and build roads, bridges, highways, and transit.
Thanks to our government, highway construction can start up to 12 months sooner.
Transit projects will face fewer roadblocks.
Modern long-term care homes can go up in months, not years.
We won’t waste a single second.
We won’t waste a single dollar getting these projects built.
We are investing billions of dollars in major infrastructure projects.
$27 billion in our hospitals over the next 10 years.
$12 billion in our schools.
$2.6 billion in our provincial highway network this year.
And $1.75 billion in our long-term care homes over the next 5 years.
Last week, we announced $30 million for the 2021-22 Connecting Links Program to help build, repair or replace municipal roads and bridges that connect to provincial highways.
Whether it’s redeveloping West Lincoln Memorial Hospital, building 640 more long-term care beds in Mississauga, or constructing a brand new school in Rainy River:
These projects will create hundreds of jobs, generate billions of dollars in economic activity, and improve the quality of life in hundreds of communities right across the province.
We will ensure every region can recover and prosper.
My friends, we face a tough road ahead.
But I feel very optimistic.
I am always willing to bet on Ontario.
Because we have the people, the resources, and the tools to come back stronger than ever.
I see it every day. I see it in every community, in every corner of this great province.
Thanks to our municipal partners, thanks to our frontline heroes, thanks to the great people of Ontario, we are in the strongest position possible to recover, rebuild and prosper.
Together, we are creating a stronger, more resilient Ontario.
Together, we are creating prosperity and opportunity.
We won’t stop until we get every community, every business, every worker back on their feet.
Thank you and God bless the people of Ontario.
Have a wonderful conference.