have a role to play!
- Says Premier Dalton McGuinty -
Dalton McGuinty's Remarks at the ETHNIC PRESS COUNCIL, December 6,
2004] Good evening. It’s great to see so many of you here — especially
when the weather has made it so difficult to get around. Whatever your
beliefs, or your traditions, this is a joyous time of year, a time to be
with family and friends. But for all of us who believe in diversity — and
in a free press that reflects that diversity — this is also a bittersweet
time. We recently lost a leader, a man of vision. And I want to express,
again, on behalf of all Ontarians, our respect for Daniel Iannuzzi and
offer our sympathies to his family, colleagues and community. He is missed
by the community of communities that is Ontario. He has left behind a remarkable
legacy of hard work and dedication. A legacy we all must honour by continuing
You have a role to play
by informing your communities, by building bridges between the home your
audiences knew and the home they have chosen, by providing a voice to those
not always heard. I want to thank you for fulfilling that role, day in
and day out. I have a role to play, too: to provide leadership that unites
instead of divides, that fosters opportunity for all, instead of reserving
it for just a few. Tonight, you make me Honourary Chairman of the Ethnic
Press and Media Council of Canada. It’s a tremendous privilege, but I don’t
see it as a reward. I see it as a reminder of the important role you play,
the role I play and the need for us to work together. You know, sometimes
we take it for granted, but this diversity of ours is a tremendous asset.
Diversity fosters a wonderful view of the world. A world where we build
bridges instead of walls. Where we grow together instead of apart. Where
there is no “us” and “them.” There’s just us.It’s a view that seems to
me to be fundamental to building a strong, caring and cohesive society.
Diversity also strengthens our economy — our ability to compete in markets
around the world. Because together, as Ontarians, we speak every language,
understand every culture and have ties to every market. Our diversity enables
us to do business literally anywhere.
We Ontarians and we Canadians
— we are privileged to call this place home. And it seems to me that with
privilege comes responsibility. The responsibility to make this home of
ours work. And not just for ourselves, but for the world. We are a demonstration
project for the world. A world where too many people despair of humanity’s
ability just to get along in peace. A world where too many are afraid that
maybe, just maybe, we humans are hard-wired to always focus on our differences.
So our responsibility as Ontarians and Canadians is to signal to the world
that we can rise above our differences. That we understand that people
everywhere are connected. That life is so much better for all of us when
we support one another, regardless of differences. That the differences
among people, whether they are racial, religious, political, tribal or
ethnic, are not nearly as important as our common humanity. If we are to
fulfill this responsibility, then we must do more than simply talk about
diversity, or even celebrate it. We have to support it, nurture it and
I think it was Shakespeare
who said: “Action is eloquence. ”Our government’s action plan for Ontario
is all about strengthening our greatest competitive advantage — our people
— in all their diversity. To ensure Ontario is the place to be, for years
to come, we need every Ontarian at his or her best. We need to help every
Ontarian reach his or her potential. We need to tap into the talent of
every Ontarian. And that’s what we, as a government, are striving to do.
Our plan is to strengthen the education and skills of our people. The place
with the best-educated, most highly skilled workforce will attract the
most investment and the best jobs. And when we get education right, we
get good citizens, good neighbours, people equipped to build a stronger,
more cohesive society. We face challenges in public education.Four out
of ten students in Grade 3 and 6 are not making the Ontario standard on
our provincial tests. And an estimated 30 per cent of our kids are dropping
out of high school. So we have our work cut out for us, especially when
we want to trade with — and compete with — countries all over the world.
So we’re investing another $1.1 billion in public education. Class sizes
are down, in the early grades, in 1,300 schools. We’ve hired another 1,100
teachers.We’ve taken junk food out of our elementary schools And mandatory
physical activity is coming in. We want every child to succeed. So we’ve
increased funding for English as Second Language by $64 million — and we’ve
expanded the program. When we were elected, eligible children were receiving
ESL supports for three years. But it quickly became clear to us that, for
many children, that simply wasn’t enough time. So we’ve extended ESL for
an additional year because “almost” isn’t good enough when it comes to
equipping our children — all our children — with what they need to learn.
We’ve also increased learning
opportunity grants — money specifically targeted at programs that help
struggling students — by $160 million. There are funding programs that
help kids at risk — including thousands of children who are recent immigrants
or whose first language is not English. We know that kids who do well in
grade school are more likely to complete high school and further their
education beyond high school. We want our young people to keep learning.
In fact, we are working on our plan to require young people to continue
to learn until age 18, in a classroom or an apprenticeship or a job placement
program.No longer will they be able to walk out at age 16. After all, we
can’t hang our hopes on the future if we’re content to let the future just
hang out at the mall.We want the best for our kids — all our kids — and
we’ll do all we can to help them succeed.
Our plan is to improve
the health of our people. Medicare is an expression of our values. And
it gives us a competitive edge over our closest competitors, who are forced
to spend more and more on private health insurance. So our system of medicare
still makes sense. But we face some big challenges. The first is quality.Far
too many Ontarians don’t have access to a family doctor. Others are
waiting far too long for key procedures. We are working to reduce those
waiting lists by increasing volumes. At the end of our mandate, we will
have 36,000 more cardiac procedures every year, 9,000 more cataract procedures
every year, 2,300 more hip and knee replacements every year. To expand
access to doctors and nurses, we’re expanding access to medicine and nursing.
We’ve expanded a training program that helps internationally trained nurses
pass the registration exam here. And we’ve doubled the number of residency
positions available to international medical graduates. We aren’t just
putting more money and people into the system — we’re working to transform
the system. That’s why we’re moving forward with our plan to improve how
family doctors work in Ontario, to set up Family Health Teams, to provide
care in so many cities and towns where so many Ontarians can’t get the
family care they need. We plan to have the first 45 Family Health Teams
approved by spring. This will make our health care system more effective
and more efficient. And that’s important, because the other major challenge
is affordability. For the last four years, the cost of health care overall
has been growing at eight per cent a year. Hospitals at 10 per cent a year,
drugs at 15 per cent a year and cancer drugs at 35 per cent a year. When
I came to Queen’s Park 14 years ago, about a third of the budget went into
health care. Today, close to half of the budget goes into health care.
Today, I’m taking education money and I’m putting it into health care.
I’m taking money for roads and bridges and I’m putting it into health care.
I’m taking money for colleges and universities and I’m putting it into
health care. So to people who say the only thing that we can do to fix
health care is to put more and more money into it, I ask you: How much
more? Should 60 per cent of the budget go into health care? Should 70 per
cent of the budget go into health care? Maybe 80 per cent of the budget
should go into health care? My friends, the status quo is just not acceptable.
So we’re doing the hard work now, with our hospitals and with our doctors,
to change health care so that it delivers more quality and delivers affordability.
When it comes to the economy,
we’re placing a very heavy emphasis on the development of our workers —
all of our workers. We want more highly skilled and educated workers because
we understand they can get the best jobs, the highest pay and the highest
quality of life. Our government is adding 50,000 spaces to our colleges
and universities. And we’ve enhanced student aid to benefit 50,000 more
We’ve also asked former
Premier Rae to fast-track a comprehensive review of our post-secondary
system. We’re creating 7,000 more apprenticeship spaces and proposing a
brand new training tax benefit for business. If you pick up a new apprentice,
we’ll pick up 25 to 30 per cent of the cost. We’re working to expand access
to trades and professions with a series of changes that are making a real,
Our government is working
to help employers, universities and colleges understand the academic credentials
of the internationally trained. We’ve expanded bridge-training programs
for nurses, doctors, engineers, teachers and other trades and professions.
Too many of our people have told us they find the appeals process in some
regulated professions confusing and arbitrary. So we’ve appointed former
Ontario Justice George Thomson to recommend an appeals process that’s fair
and transparent. We’re opening up the process for appointments to our own
agencies, boards and commissions by working with communities to identify
and appoint candidates that reflect Ontario’s diversity. And some of our
recent appointments, I believe, indicate some progress on this front. We’re
working with the federal government on a new immigration agreement, one
that focuses on enhanced language training and new programs to help immigrants
access the Canadian labour market. We’re working on a new information portal,
so people considering Canada can get the information they need, from the
federal and provincial government, in one convenient place.
It’s simply not good enough
anymore in the highly competitive, global economy of the 21st century to
tell new Canadians to wait a generation for their opportunity. They can’t
wait that long for their chance in Ontario, and we can’t wait that long
for them to make their maximum contribution to Ontario.
We need every Ontarian
— including our newest Ontarians — at their best. Let me wrap up with just
a few points.
The first is: We are making
progress. In fact, we’ve published a progress report on what we’ve accomplished
in our first year in government. The highlights are available online at
resultsontario.com, and they’re available in twelve languages.
The second is: We can
do this. I’ve been on this job for more than a year now. And what has struck
me more than anything is how much we have going for us.
Ontarians excel in every
walk of life and in every language. In business, in the arts, in sports,
in health care and education and the media, Ontarians excel.
We can overcome our challenges.
We can be even more successful. We can, by investing in our people, be
the place to be, for years to come. I meet regularly with my provincial
counterparts. And each of them would gladly trade their challenges for
final thing I want to do is to extend to all of you the best of the holiday
season. On behalf of Terri and our family, but also on behalf of 12 million
Ontarians. However you celebrate, whatever your heritage, or religion,
I ask you to take a moment to celebrate what we all share — the privilege
we enjoy living here in Ontario. Celebrate that we have the resolve to
overcome our challenges. Celebrate the respect we have for one another.
Celebrate that, wherever we come from, we can move forward as one and embrace
once again the responsibility we share. My friends, the Ontario we want
for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren — an Ontario that speaks
every language, that accepts every culture, that values every individual,
an Ontario that is the best place in the world because it embraces what
is best in the world — that Ontario is ours to deliver together. Thank
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National Ethnic Press And
Media Council Of Canada