Yuri Bilinsky, New Pathway – Ukrainian News.
NP-UN: What is your outlook for the Ontario economy? How are the US-imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum affecting it and what stimulus is the government planning to boost the economy? How are you planning to make Ontario more attractive for investment?
Doug Ford: So many people across Ontario came to our province to work hard to provide for their families and give their children a better future. It’s my job as Premier to make sure our province is the best place in Canada to grow a business. You’ve heard not just me, but our MPPs say, “Ontario is open for business.” We want everyone to know that this is not just a slogan. We are committed to growing the economy and helping protect and create good jobs across the province. We hear from businesses who tell us job growth starts with cutting burdensome, job-killing red tape. It’s these unnecessary rules and regulations that drive investment and jobs out of Ontario. We’re going to make sure that businesses in Ontario can thrive and that our province is a great place for more companies to invest, and people to work.
During the NAFTA deliberations the U.S. Government placed 25% tariffs on Canadian steel and 10% tariffs on Canadian aluminum products. The Canadian government countered with tariffs of its own on steel, aluminum, and various other American products. These tariffs from both sides increase the cost of doing of business for the critically important auto parts sector. We have since called on the Federal Government to resolve this situation and immediately work with the U.S. Government to remove all tariffs on steel and aluminum.
For Background: the Making Ontario Open for Business Act: The Act includes replacing the Liberals’ ideological minimum wage scheme with one that remains at $14 per hour until 2020, at which point it will rise with inflation; replacing the Liberals’ disastrous Personal Emergency Leave rules and instead ensure workers will be able to take up to three days for personal illness two for bereavement and three for family responsibilities while maintaining leave provisions for victims of domestic or sexual violence; and opening up jobs for Ontarians interested in the skilled trades by reducing journeyman-to-apprenticeship ratios at one-to-one and winding down the complex, job killing bureaucracy at the Ontario College of Trades.
NP-UN: How much less are Ontarians paying now per litre of gas after the cap-and-trade program was eliminated?
Doug Ford: We scrapped the carbon tax to put more money back in the pockets of hard-working Ontarians. Gas prices are still high in provinces with a carbon tax, but here in Ontario, and likewise in provinces where there is no carbon tax – gas prices are lower. The average gas price in Ottawa is 98.7 cents per litre and in Toronto the average is 103.2 (as of Nov. 28). There are several factors that impact prices, but by scrapping the carbon tax, we took about 5 cents a litre off the price of gas. I committed to taking a total of 10 cents a litre off the price of gas – so there’s still work to be done!
NP-UN: What are your objections to the federal carbon tax rebates plan?
Doug Ford: There are a lot of things that a government can do to encourage people and businesses to make smart environmental choices – but I fundamentally don’t believe that a tax on everything is the way to way to do it. Our government is committed to protecting the Ontario we know and love, and ensuring that its beauty and the strong communities can be enjoyed now and in the future. We released a made-in-Ontario Environment Plan last week that will make sure we have clean air and water. It’s going to fight climate change without imposing a job-killing carbon tax. It encourages individuals to tackle litter and waste so that our communities and parks are clean and safe for our children to play in. It supports conservation work across the province.
NP-UN: What is your plan to fight the gun crime in Ontario?
Doug Ford: We have to be serious about fighting guns and gangs. We have to work with our partners – the police, municipalities and local communities. In August I announced that the province would send $18 million to Toronto police to buy new digital and investigative tools and also give $7.6 million to staff seven of Toronto’s courthouses with a legal team that’s dedicated to denying bail to people accused of gun crimes. The problem isn’t with hunters, or people with legal firearms that are very heavily regulated. The problem is with gangs and guns that come into Canada illegally. We have to get serious about crime to solve this problem.
NP-UN: Do you have a plan to ease the housing crisis in Toronto? Can the government do anything to increase the supply of land and housing in and around the GTA?
Doug Ford: We recently announced a plan to remove the barriers and red tape that are in the way of getting things built so that more housing can be build faster – and at an affordable cost. We’re exempting new rental units from rent controls to create more rental housing and help reduce housing costs while protecting existing tenants. This will encourage builders across Ontario to build more rental housing. We’re also launching online consultations that will inform a broader housing supply action plan.
NP-UN: What are the government’s plans to develop the infrastructure in Ontario and the GTA in particular?
Doug Ford: As a former City Councillor, I know firsthand that infrastructure in the GTA needs a lot of work. Infrastructure is the rinks we skate in, the buildings we work in, the roads that take us home and the hospitals that care for our parents, our children and our loved ones. We will continue to invest in our health care system – ending hallway health care is a top priority of mine and I was pleased to participate in announcements at Westpark HealthCare and Joseph Brant Hospital recently. Infrastructure in the GTA also relates to our transit system. We have a plan to upload the infrastructure related to the TTC to make sure we get more transit built, faster and more efficiently.
NP-UN: How has the buck-a-beer policy worked so far? What can you say to those who claim that this is a corporate subsidy at the expense of the taxpayer as LCBO is made to promote the beers it wouldn’t otherwise.
Doug Ford: The buck-a-beer challenge was a promise I made during the election. We lowered the minimum price to $1 for any beer with an alcohol volume that’s below 5.6 per cent. Companies were free to participate in the challenge or not. Our plan encourages price competition for beer and saves people money by allowing lower prices in the beer market. By lowering the minimum retail price for beer, the government has opened up opportunities for brewers in the value-priced beer category. If a brewer wants to offer buck-a-beer, our government will not stand in the way. We are working on many areas related to alcohol retailing, including expanding hours for alcohol retail, and our promise to expand sales of beer and wine to corner stores and box stores.