By MPP Toby Barrett

MPPs have now returned to Queen’s Park for a rare summer sitting to begin to turn our province around.

The recent change in administration has set the stage for a government that will be accountable to you, a government that will only answer to you, and a government that works for everyone.

The Province of Ontario is at a critical juncture. We must not underestimate the gravity of the situation we all face. Ontario’s economy is operating in an increasingly challenging global environment.

We are living in an era marked by unprecedented change, great upheavals and instability. As well, Ontario has seen years of fiscal mismanagement, record levels of debt and crippling interest payments, crumbling infrastructure, and a broken health care system.

Needless to say, the work before us is truly immense. However, together we can begin to address the task at hand.

It will require a coming together under a singular purpose, under a united vision, of a prosperous Ontario, an Ontario that works for all of us.

There is potential and opportunity for all to succeed and prosper, for our communities to thrive. One goal is to ensure our children won’t have to leave home to find a good-paying job.

One of the first orders of business, eliminating the cap-and-trade carbon tax – the first step to lower gas prices.

As well there will be a full audit of the government’s spending, line item by line item – a review that will result in billions of dollars of savings.

We have sent a clear message about our position on NAFTA. The world knows that Ontario will stand united, shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with all Canadians to enhance modern and fair trading relationships with the United States and Mexico.

We will protect good jobs in Ontario. We will protect our rural communities. We will protect our agriculture, manufacturing and resource-based industries.

Government doesn’t create sustainable jobs on its own. What government can do, however, is create the conditions that make it easier to start a business, grow a business or invest in Ontario.

Ontario will be open for business and, open for investment and trade by lowering taxes, stabilizing electricity costs, and cutting bureaucratic red tape. Ontario families deserve major infrastructure investments in country, city and small town alike whether it be transit, local roads or highways.

We will expand natural gas availability by freeing up the private sector and use the savings to invest in broadband and cellular expansion. As promised, we will expand the Risk Management Program cap to support farm commodities.

We will end hallway health care by creating 15,000 new long-term care beds over the next five years, and matching federal transfer dollars for a total of $3.8 billion in new support for mental health, addictions and housing.

As a people, as a province, our potential is limitless. We are blessed with an abundance of natural resources, blessed with the smartest and hardest working people to be found anywhere. Blessed with a culture of tolerance and openness. There is reason to be proud of the incredible province we inherited from our forefathers.

And we must work every day as a province, as a people, to create a better Ontario for our children and for their children.

Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk