Dalton McGuinty resigns as Premier of Ontario
Just 12 months into his toughest stretch in government, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty shocked the province on Monday evening when he announced he was resigning from the position he's held for nine years.
McGuinty's announcement, which was made late in the day on Monday, October 15, left many shocked and stunned.
He has resigned from Ontario politics and taken the rare step of suspending the legislature, but not before hinting at the possibility of a run for the federal Liberal leadership against front-runner Justin Trudeau.
In power for nine years and leader of the provincial Liberals since 1996, the Ottawa lawyer noted this has been his toughest 12-month stretch in government leading a minority.
The 57-year-old politicians said his decision stemmed from "a mix of professional headaches and personal considerations," from tense relations with rival parties to the recent wedding of his only daughter.
"The opposition's political games are holding Ontario back," McGuinty told media and added the legislature will be prorogued until his successor is chosen, likely early next year.
A quick poll taken Monday night suggested Ontarians welcome his departure - 67 per cent approved of his move, to resign, while only 17 per cent disapproved and 16 per cent had no opinion.
While opposition party leaders thanked McGuinty for his service and hard work, they said it is irresponsible to prorogue the legislature with the province struggling to eliminate a $14.4-billion deficit and nearly 600,000 Ontarians unemployed.
"Given the scope of the challenges our province faces, now is not the time to close the doors on the legislature and walk away . . . nothing gets done," said Conservative leader Tim Hudak.
New Democrat leader Andrea Horwath issued the following statement early Tuesday, October 16.
"While I want to thank the Premier, I also want to be clear that we don't support prorogation. The people who make this province work everyday sent us here to do a job and that work shouldn't stop while the Liberal party focuses on leadership," she stated.
"Prorogation effectively cancels hearings on the multi-million cost of cancelled gas plants. That matter alone is concerning but the fact is, there is important work we need to do here in the Legislature. People are worried about finding and keeping good jobs. They're worried about the growing cost of everyday life. They're looking for family doctors and hospitals that can deliver care when they need it."
Provincial deficit on track?
The same day McGuinty announced his resignation, the province issued a press release that states that Ontario remains "on track" to eliminating the deficit by 2017-2018.
The press release states that the deficit projection for the current fiscal year has improved by more than $400 million from the 2012 budget forecast to $14.4 billion. The province remains on track to meet the 2012 budget deficit targets in 2013-14 and 2014-15 and for the deficit to be eliminated by 2017-18.
Ontario is projecting growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.0 per cent in 2012, 1.9 per cent in 2013, 2.3 per cent in 2014 and 2.4 per cent in 2015.
As of September 2012, Ontario employment was 356,000 net new jobs above its recessionary low in June 2009.
Ontario is expected to create nearly 350,000 net new jobs by 2015, reducing the unemployment rate to 6.8 per cent from a high of 9.4 per cent in June 2009.
The fiscal plan provides no funding for incremental compensation increases for new collective agreements.
The government is currently consulting on draft legislation that proposes to freeze compensation for executives and managers across the Ontario Public Service, and the Broader Public Sector (BPS) who are eligible for performance pay.
It also proposes to ensure future BPS collective agreements are consistent with the province's goals to eliminate the deficit and protect jobs and public services.
The proposed draft legislation would support avoiding increased spending in the BPS of $2.8 billion over three years and help to protect roughly 55,000 public sector jobs.
The 2012-13 revenue projection of $113,019 million is $445 million above the 2012 budget outlook, largely reflecting a higher estimated 2011-12 tax base.
Consistent with the government's continued effort toward managing the growth in expenses, total expense for 2012-13 has decreased by $3.7 million compared to the 2012 budget plan.