Celebrating Ontario at 150 – progress made, work to do

On July 1st we celebrated the 150th birthday of Canada and also the 150th birthday of the four founding provinces – Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario. I wanted to take this occasion to celebrate Ontario at 150 and reaffirm my commitment to working to improve our province and our community.

Ontario’s history is one of persistence, innovation, sacrifice and social justice. We often complain that things are bad, but in reality, our standard of living, our personal security, and our potential for growth are the envy of much of the world. We have a diversity of culture and experience that provides a rich foundation to learn from, and we remain a hub of artistic, technological, and social creativity.

With that high quality of life comes a responsibility to make things better for everyone.

We must continue to make the protection of our environment a priority in our everyday lives, through personal actions and larger government and commercial activities.

We must work to resolve the concerns and needs of our Indigenous community.

We must continue to fight for equality and respect, and remain vigilant of the growth of hate and extremism here in our own backyard.

We must ensure that our growing and aging population get the care they need and deserve, which is why our province has made massive commitments to the health and education of its citizens. We have launched infrastructure funds for our hospital system, expanded and prioritized mental health care and dementia strategies, improved high school graduation rates and made the most important and significant commitment to health care in Canada since the launch of universal coverage by introducing Pharmacare for all children and youth in Ontario.

We can propose these programs because Ontario has an economy that will, according to Bloomberg, outpace all of Canada for the near future.  It’s an economy that has helped us balance the budget and create more than 700,000 jobs since 2008 – our unemployment rate is now the lowest it’s been since 2001 – yet a large segment of our population works at precarious jobs that do not provide sufficient income or security.

That’s why our government has proposed an increase to the minimum wage, and other changes, that will ensure fair treatment and compensation of Ontario workers. Public hearings on this legislation (Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017) are ongoing, and you can submit your opinions to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs by July 25th. Contact my office (416.690.1032 or apotts.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org) to learn more.

Ontario has made incredible advances in how we live and what we offer our citizens, and our home is a place we should rightly be proud of.

At the outset of our 151st year, the people of Ontario should take a moment to celebrate those achievements, and recommit to ensuring that the future of our province remains bright for those who live here, and those who will join us in the years to come.

If you have ideas that you believe will build Ontario up and improve the lives of its citizens, please get in touch. Let’s keep working.

Arthur Potts is the Liberal MP for Beaches-East York.

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