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Ontario Hansard - 08-March2021

Mr. Rudy Cuzzetto: I’m very pleased to rise here today in my role as parliamentary assistant to the President of the Treasury Board to speak with respect to concurrence in supply. I’d like to build on the remarks of my colleague and elaborate on this government’s unwavering and unparalleled support to protect individuals, families and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ll do so by discussing the additional support recently outlined in the provincial 2020-21 third quarter finances.

Speaker, as my colleague has explained today, our government’s priority from day one of this pandemic has not wavered. We will do whatever it takes and whatever is necessary to protect the lives and livelihoods of Ontarians and defeat this virus, which has brought so much pain and suffering to the people of this province.

As the provincial 2020-21 third quarter outlines, this government has made considerable additional investments since the release of the 2020 Ontario budget on November 5, which the member elaborated on earlier. These additional investments outlined in the 2020-21 third quarter finances include $1.4 billion to launch the Ontario Small Business Support Grant. This program is helping small businesses that have been required to close or significantly restrict their services under the province-wide shut down. With grants starting at $10,000 and up to $20,000, I understand we have already approved over $60 million in grants for small business in Mississauga alone.

We have provided $869 million in additional investment for Ontario hospitals to purchase supplies and equipment to help address the surge of COVID-19 cases. This brings our total increase in funding to hospitals since 2019-20 to $3.4 billion.

In November, I was proud to announce an investment of $22 million for 141 new hospital beds in Mississauga, including up to 70 in the pandemic response unit at the Mississauga Hospital in Mississauga–Lakeshore. Speaker, we have done everything in our power to expand on our hospital capacity during the second wave of COVID-19. We also provided $609 million to support procurement of additional personal protective equipment for our front-line workers. We invested $309 million in additional support to respond to the impact of COVID-19 on Ontario’s long-term-care sector, including new provisions and containment measures and more funding to implement testing guidelines. Finally, we provided $235 million in additional support to protect children and staff in child care and early years settings.

But that’s not all. Our government has also made available an additional $2.1 billion to spend before the end of the year. Providing this added contingency funding not only ensures that we have the flexibility we need to continue a response to the COVID-19 crisis but, most importantly, to ensure that we are able to fight and overcome the new variants of concern.

I’d like to highlight something else which is also very important. Despite the extraordinary uncertainty that we are experiencing together as a province over the past year, this government, through each financial quarter, has delivered on our core commitment to restore trust, transparency and accountability to Ontario’s finances and to spend Ontario’s money smarter.

Madam Speaker, I’d like to close my remarks today by briefly highlighting our government’s continued effort to manage risk in these uncertain times and to make smarter decisions through enterprise risk management. As you know, Speaker, this is the practice of identifying, assessing, prioritizing and managing the unknown in an organization. It helps us to forecast and manage risks by enhancing internal oversight, improving conditions between departments and ensuring robust decision-making processes across the entire organization. In other words, this process helps us to develop limited resources to the greatest effect, and at the same time, identify problems before they can take root.

In doing so, we can help ensure that we have the necessary financial resources to invest in what matters most, both during COVID-19 and in the recovery to come. Enterprise risk management is recognized as best practice in the private sector. In the 2019 budget, it was recognized as an important enabler in our government’s effort to ensure improved services and better outcomes for Ontario. This was reinforced by EY Canada in its 2019 line-by-line review, which called for a commitment to evidence-based decision-making, including the consideration of business risk and the implementation of enterprise risk management across ministries and provincial agencies.

My colleague the member from Aurora–Oak Ridges–Richmond Hill has already discussed the office of the comptroller general, but I just want to reiterate that this is the first comptroller general in Canada to be a deputy-minister-level position. As well, our government has created the enterprise risk office. Together, these two offices, both created by the government, will align and streamline practices all across the government to ensure a more effective and more coordinated risk management landscape while also helping to coordinate risk functions across the government, to protect the core programs and essential services that Ontarians have relied on during the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, these offices ensure that risk is properly identified and managed before public money is spent, providing better value and greater accountability to the people of Ontario.

But Madam Speaker, that is not all we are doing to manage risk. In my role as parliamentary assistant for internal audit to the President of the Treasury Board, risk management is one of our core functions. We not only monitor risks throughout the fiscal year and beyond; we also use risk management tools to closely track the implementation of the initiatives that my colleague and I have highlighted here today.

Another important new initiative is the creation of the audit and accountability committee to direct internal audits in priority areas across the government. This committee, which I am proud to serve on, is the only one of its kind in Canada, and it is already helping to bring a new level of accountability to help ensure that we receive the best value for our money.

Proactively, we are working to identify emerging program and policy-related risks. Collectively, this comprehensive analysis not only informs our fiscal planning process, which also includes developing plans to mitigate and manage financial and other risks, but in doing so, we are ensuring that Ontarians’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars are treated with respect and are invested in core services, including health care and education and all the other programs that the Ontario people depend on. This in turn will help to ensure that we have the financial firepower to be ready for anything at any time.

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I stand before this Legislature to reaffirm that our government will do whatever is necessary to protect the lives and the livelihoods of the people of Ontario, and to finally conquer COVID-19. This is what the Premier has called the Ontario spirit. Speaker, once again, I’m confident that the collective spirit will get us through this crisis and beyond.


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