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January 23, 2023
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TORONTO — Premier Ford delivered the following remarks at the 2023 Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference.
“Well, good morning.
Thank you, Jeyan, for your introduction.
And thank you to the Rural Ontario Municipal Association and all its members for having me here today.
And isn’t it great to be here, together in person, for the first time in two years.
Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic was a once-in-a-century challenge especially for small and rural communities.
I’m so proud of how Team Ontario responded.
From our heroes on the frontlines to every one of Ontario’s 444 municipalities, we came together to keep our province safe.
I want to thank you all for the work you did and continue to do to help keep our communities safe and healthy.
As I’ve said before the small communities and townships of Ontario are the lifeblood of this province and our government will always have your backs.
Because we know that if our rural communities are successful and prosperous then all of Ontario is successful and prosperous.
My friends, our government has a plan that’s building all of Ontario.
Whether you live in Downtown Toronto, Sudbury, Thunder Bay or Goderich and everywhere in between, we’re making sure every inch of Ontario, every person and community benefits from our investments to support economic growth and protect jobs.
Our plan to build Ontario starts with building a stronger economy.
As you all know under the previous government, Ontario saw over 300,000 jobs vanish, as businesses fled to other jurisdictions.
Skyrocketing energy costs and over-regulation made it impossible for businesses here to compete.
They left in the thousands.
Each of you know best…how devastating it can be…on smaller towns and communities when companies leave.
Other businesses are just as hurt.
But those days are over.
We’re making electricity more affordable and cutting red tape.
We’ve kept taxes and fees low.
And the result is we have reduced the cost of doing business in Ontario by seven-billion dollars a year.
That’s right. $7 billion…with a B…each and every year.
And, since our government took office in 2018, we have created over 500,000 new jobs all over the province.
These jobs…these investments…that’s money that goes back to the businesses in your community so they can invest in growth and create new jobs.
Our government is also revitalizing our auto sector helping to make Ontario an auto-manufacturing powerhouse once again.
We’re securing billions of dollars in new investments including Honda’s $1.4 billion investment to retool its Alliston assembly plant and Stellantis and LG’s historic, $5 billion investment to build Canada’s first ever electric vehicle battery plant.
I was thrilled to be on hand at General Motors last December in Ingersoll…
As the first full scale electric vehicle plant opened and trucks came off the production line.
But friends the real opportunity for Ontario…for all of Ontario…is realizing the full value of the electric vehicle supply chain.
From start to finish…from mining to manufacturing…we’re going to build the cars of the future right here in Ontario, across Ontario.
Last year in Thunder Bay, I had the opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with some amazing miners as our government launched Ontario’s first-ever critical minerals strategy.
A five-year roadmap to better connect the industries, resources and workers in our province’s north to our manufacturers in the south.
We’re also strengthening the manufacturing sectors in eastern and southwestern Ontario.
Through our Regional Development Program, we’ve invested more than $70 million, since 2019 to help create more than 1,400 jobs.
And we’re investing in our province’s Agri-food sector with a goal to increase Ontario food production by 30 per cent over the next 10 years helping to ensure our province’s food supply chain remains safe, strong and stable.
Another priority for our government is to find more ways to keep costs down for Ontario families.
Our government will always look for ways to put more money back in Ontarian’s pockets.
We eliminated fees for license plate stickers.
And we cut the gas tax…a tax that impacts rural and remote communities most.
The cost of gas impacts every single product and service as trucks, trains and planes bring us the things we rely on.
Cutting the gas tax cuts the cost of these products and services.
It’s never been more important to offer hard-working people a bit of relief.
And my friends, we can’t talk about affordability, without talking about building homes.
As you know we are currently facing a housing crisis, decades in the making as previous governments refused to build the housing we needed.
With our population expected to grow by over 2 million over the next decade we need more homes, built faster.
That’s why our government is taking bold action to build 1.5-million new homes across Ontario by 2031 including a mix of ownership and rental housing types that meet the needs of all Ontarians.
It’s simple economics…it’s supply and demand.
We need to work together, to build new homes to make home ownership more attainable for people.
This plan includes building more homes in every part of Ontario.
Ontario’s small towns…our rural communities…they’re also growing.
As they do, we want to make sure that people can continue to enjoy the beauty of…and set down roots in…Ontario’s rural communities.
And as our communities grow, we know that our infrastructure needs to keep up.
That’s why we’re investing a historic $86.6 billion over ten years to build and expand roads, highways, and transit infrastructure across Ontario.
And we’re pleased to be supporting our Indigenous partners in communities around the ring of fire in their work to finally build an all-season roadway, not only to support development, but also improve access to every-day essentials like fuel, groceries and health care.
This year through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund, we’re providing $400 million to 425 small, rural and northern communities to renew and rehabilitate critical infrastructure including roads, bridges, water and wastewater projects.
Another critical piece of infrastructure that has been long ignored is connecting all Ontarians to modern broadband internet.
When I speak to people in Toronto, some are shocked to learn that not everyone in our province has access to high-speed internet.
We need to fix that…and we are.
As part of our nearly $4 billion, multi-year investment, we’re bringing reliable high-speed internet access to every region in Ontario by the end of 2025.
And finally, I want to speak briefly about health care infrastructure and how we’re connecting all Ontarians including those who live in rural communities to more convenient care closer to home.
I know our all-star Deputy Premier and Health Minister is up next and I’ll let her speak about specific initiatives.
But I do want to say that our government is making historic investments in health care.
We are adding 3,000 more hospital beds, across the province with 50 major hospital infrastructure projects under way including many outside of major cities like Bracebridge and Huntsville, Collingwood, Brant and Grand River to name just a few.
People who live in more rural and remote parts of Ontario deserve to receive care in modern, state-of-the-art hospitals just like anyone else.
And as we build new hospitals, we’re expanding Ontario’s health care workforce with increased funding to recruit, retain, and train nurses and other staff including for our rural and remote communities where hiring health care workers has always been more difficult.
Last week, Minister Jones, Minister Dunlop and I unveiled our plans to expand the popular Learn and Stay grant.
This grant pays for the full cost of tuition, books and other supplies for students in high-demand fields including nurses, paramedics, and lab-techs, in return for agreeing to work in underserviced areas of the province including our rural and remote communities.
And we’re making it easier, faster, and more convenient for Ontarians everywhere to access quality care, close to home.
My friends, our government is creating the conditions for jobs to grow and businesses to succeed.
We’re working to make life more affordable for Ontarians.
And, to keep in line with the theme of this year’s conference, we’re breaking new ground on new homes and new infrastructure projects in every community in this province.
From North Bay to Palmerston to Owen Sound and everywhere in between.
But…as we navigate global economic uncertainty…we know there is more to do.
We must stay focused and we can’t take anything for granted.
I look forward to working with all of you to build a stronger Ontario and to make sure that every community in Ontario is the best place to live, work and raise a family.
Thank you…enjoy the rest of this conference.
And may God Bless the people of Ontario.
Business and Economy
Information about Ontario’s economy and how to do business here. Includes economic development opportunities, research funding, tax credits for business and the Ontario Budget. Learn more
Learn about the government services available to you and how government works. Learn more
Health and Wellness
Get help navigating Ontario’s health care system and connecting with the programs or services you’re looking for. Learn more
Home and Community
Information for families on major life events and care options, including marriage, births and child care. Also includes planning resources for municipalities. Learn more
Rural and North
Information about the province’s Far North and rural communities. Get connected to business improvement organizations and learn more about funding and programs that support rural, northern and Indigenous communities. Learn more