Contributed photo of Norm Miller (centre) at Queen’s Park
Norm Miller says he’s “proud to be a part of a government that has already begun to deliver on their promises to bring change for the people.” That’s the Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP’s reaction to Thursday’s Throne Speech.
The speech outlined the newly minted Progressive Conservative’s plans for the next four years. Among the big promises, several of which were made on the campaign trail, were cutting gasoline prices, lowering hydro costs and cutting taxes for workers, small business and the working poor.
Miller says the government is “getting down to business very quickly”, which includes the ouster of the Hydro One board and CEO Mayo Schmidt, who Ford labelled “the $6 million man” during the campaign. Miller says it’s a “small part” of the plan to lower hydro rates in Ontario by 12 per cent.
Schmidt was entitled to $10.7 million in severance, but in announcing the departure Ford said he’d only be getting $400,000. Miller believes that’s a good deal.
Despite Ford saying the severance for the CEO was “absolutely zero”, a Globe and Mail analysis showed that because Schmidt elected to retire, rather than resign, he can get roughly $9 million in compensation for things like his “stock, bonuses and other compensation.” When asked about that, Miller said “you’d have to ask Hydro One directly about those details.” The government also announced today the cancellation of 758 renewable energy contracts, which it says will translate to $790 million in savings.
Premier Doug Ford also plans to spend $3.8 billion on mental health and addictions, open 15,000 more long-term care beds in hospitals and allow beer and wine sales in convenience and big box stores. Miller says those are all “very important parts of the government’s agenda.” However the first orders of business will be ending both cap and trade and the York University strike when MPPs get back to Queen’s Park on Monday, and then moving as quickly as possible on the tax cuts.
Miller says before the government can commit to a timeline on a few of its promises a line-by-line audit of government spending has to be done so the PCs can get a full picture of Ontario’s finances.
When it comes to allowing beer and wine sales in convenience and big box stores, Miller says he sees the convenience as a positive thing for residents, and that Ontario seems to moving away from its historically tight liquor laws. Miller concluded by saying he’s looking forward to getting to work next week.