TORONTO — Today, Premier Doug Ford issued the following statement to mark the start of the New Year:
“Happy New Year, Ontario!
As we turn the calendar to 2024, I want to take a moment to pause and reflect upon the progress we’ve made as a province over the past year.
2023 was a year of growth for Ontario.
In the face of economic and geopolitical uncertainty around the world, Ontario created more than 160,000 jobs, with more new manufacturing jobs in our province than all U.S. states combined.
We attracted billions of dollars in new investments, including Volkswagen’s historic $7 billion investment to build its first overseas electric vehicle battery plant in St. Thomas, which will employ thousands of people. We also saw considerable progress on the construction of the NextStar electric vehicle battery plant in Windsor.
To support this growth, our government continues to deliver on our plan to build.
We’re connecting people to more convenient care close to home. We’re investing billions over the next ten years in over 50 new hospital projects as we hire thousands of more doctors and nurses. Pharmacists are doing more to treat people in their communities, with nearly 600,000 pharmacist assessments having been done, relieving pressures on family doctors and our entire health-care system. By investing more in hospitals and community surgical and diagnostic centres, we’re taking thousands of people off surgical wait lists and now have the lowest wait times in the entire country.
We’re building and expanding schools, with over 7,000 new student spaces for the 2023-24 school year and are on track to create 86,000 new child care spaces by the end of 2026. We’ve secured deals or agreements-in-principle with almost all of Ontario’s education unions so that we can keep kids in class learning, exactly where they should be. We saw student test scores stabilize or improve as we got kids back to learning the basics while preparing them for the jobs of the future.
We’re expanding GO train service, making significant progress on the new Ontario Line subway and building roads and highways across the province, helping to ensure commuters spend more time at home and less time in bumper-to-bumper traffic. We secured a new deal for Toronto, which invests in improved services for the city and avoids any new taxes. And let me be clear: our government will never toll the Gardiner Expressway or Don Valley Parkway. Drivers coming into the city from Peel, Durham, York and beyond can’t afford any new costs.
Now more than ever, we need to keep costs down for people and businesses.
That’s why, throughout 2023, we took important steps to put money back into people’s pockets, including by increasing the minimum wage, expanding the Guaranteed Annual Income System program to support an additional 100,000 seniors and extending the gas and fuel tax cut, saving families up to $260. We also continued to cut child care fees, saving families accessing over 300,000 child care spaces an average of between $6000 and $10,000 annually.
As we keep costs down, our government is also on a relentless hunt to find new ways to make life more convenient for people. This past year, we announced the largest expansion of choice and convenience in the sale of alcohol in nearly 100 years. By no later than January 2026, people will be able to buy wine, beer, cider, seltzers and coolers at their local convenience, grocery or big-box store. Our government also continued to cut outdated and duplicative red tape, saving people and businesses more than $900 million and 100,000 hours of time each year.
Looking ahead to the new year, our government will continue to build our economy to create better jobs with bigger paycheques, invest in the roads, highways and infrastructure that our growing Ontario needs, look for ways to put money back into people’s pockets and make life easier and more convenient for families. There’s so much more work to do to build Ontario.
We need to find ways to get more shovels in the ground sooner to build new roads and highways, including Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass, as well as hospitals, long-term care homes and schools.
Working closely with our municipal partners, we’ll take more action to build at least 1.5 million homes by 2031, including by allowing for way more density near public transit.
We need to continue building an energy system that provides the clean, low-cost and stable electricity our growing province and economy needs, now and for generations to come.
We’ll continue to train more people for rewarding careers in the skilled trades as we welcome newcomers ready to help build our province.
And we want more people in Ontario to be connected to a family doctor or primary care team, so that they receive quality care when and where they need it.
I’m so proud of what Team Ontario accomplished this past year, and I can’t wait to see what’s to come in 2024. Because, while the world continues to face economic uncertainty, when the people of Ontario work together, we’ve shown that we can achieve amazing things.
From myself, my family and the Government of Ontario, I wish everyone across our great province a prosperous, healthy and happy new year!”