Yesterday, Ontarioʼs Minister of Finance, the Honourable Charles Sousa, delivered the 2014 Ontario Budget to the Ontario Legislature. The budget, the second under Premier Kathleen Wynne, expanded on the governmentʼs threefold plan to create jobs, support a dynamic and innovative business climate, and build modern infrastructure. The budget also included $29 billion in funding commitments over the next 10 years to build a seamless, integrated transportation network across the province as part of the governmentʼs Moving Ontario Forward plan – but it stopped short of specific expansion details.
“In light of the grassroots support and support from the business community for daily commuter GO Transit expansion to Niagara, the budget speech did include some positive indications that we are moving in the right direction on this issue,” says Walter Sendzik, CEO of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce. “The stage is now set for Niagara Week and all representatives from Niagara at Queenʼs Park next week must ensure that we drive the ʻGO to Niagaraʼ message home.”
The $29 billion in transportation infrastructure funding will be split into two dedicated funds: $15 billion for transit expansion in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, and $14 billion for investing in critical projects across the rest of the province.
“For years, we have said that Niagara must be included in the GO Transit expansion discussions,” adds Sendzik, “And with these significant funding commitments – coupled with the fact that Niagara is now speaking with one voice on this issue – we are well-positioned to put pressure on the provincial government over the course of Niagara Week.”
The budget speech also included an announcement to commit $2.5 billion in grants aimed at attracting and keeping businesses in Ontario – and though the Chamber is concerned that the government is not doing enough to address the Ontarioʼs competitiveness issues, the grants also represent another step in the right direction.
“For Niagara, attracting and retaining businesses and talent is directly related to GO Transit expansion,” continues Sendzik. “If businesses do not have access to skilled workers via a reliable transportation network, then they will think about twice about doing business in Ontario. It is encouraging that the government realizes enhancing GO Transit will support good jobs while providing an immediate boost to regional economic growth.”
Following the budget announcement, the Chamber will continue its commitment to work with Queenʼs Park, Metrolinx and other relevant stakeholders to develop strategic partnerships between Niagaraʼs two tiers of government and associated economic development departments, in an effort to get a fixed timeline for daily commuter GO Train expansion to Niagara.
The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce will also host Ontarioʼs Minister of Finance, the Honourable Charles Sousa, for a postbudget dinner and reception next Wednesday, May 7 at Lookout Point Country Club in Fonthill.
The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce is the champion for the Niagara business community. With over 1,500 members representing more than 45,000 employees, it is the largest business organization in Niagara and the third largest Chamber in Ontario. The Chamber Accreditation Council of Canada has recognized the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce with its highest level of distinction.
For more information and interviews please contact:
CEO, Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce
905-684-2361 ext. 227 or email@example.com