Mandate letter progress: Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure
The Minister’s response letter to Premier Wynne, outlining the results achieved on key mandate priorities in 2014-15.
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January 11, 2016
The Honourable Kathleen Wynne
Premier of Ontario
Room 281, Main Legislative Building
In your mandate letter to me of September 25, 2014, you outlined five key priorities of the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure (MEDEI) to build a strong, diversified and globally competitive economy, and invest in modern infrastructure that will foster economic growth and prosperity throughout the province.
My ministry continues to work with other ministries, levels of government and business stakeholders to attract new investment and create jobs through a wide range of government programs that support investment in Ontario’s infrastructure, advance Ontario’s trade interests, reduce regulatory burden on business and create employment opportunities for youth and persons with disabilities. I am pleased to present a summary of the ministry’s work in achieving those commitments.
Supporting a Dynamic Business Climate on a Foundation of Fiscal Responsibility
- In January 2015, we launched the Jobs and Prosperity Fund (JPF), including an objective and robust evaluation framework and risk-based governance model. Since its launch, the JPF has assessed and considered over 45 potential investments based on the program objectives, with a focus on increasing the productivity, innovation and export potential of Ontario companies.
- In November 2015, we held the opening roundtable of the Ontario-Toronto Burden Reduction Working Group, which brought leaders from the municipal and provincial governments together with the business community to explore ways to reduce regulatory, administrative and compliance burdens.
- In June 2015, Ontario released its first burden reduction report, highlighting over $50 million in cost-savings to business.
- As outlined in the Fall Economic Statement, we are refreshing the Open for Business initiative with a new and stronger mandate. As part of this renewed mandate, we are changing the way we consult with business and the public to reduce red tape. The Red Tape Challenge, a new online crowd sourcing platform that will allow Ontarians to work with us to reduce regulatory burdens, will be launched in 2016.
- We have also proposed a Regulatory Centre of Excellence and a Regulatory Modernization Committee to ensure the government sources world-leading best practices in the development and design of regulations. As well, a Government Modernization Fund will renew outdated service delivery and regulatory processes.
- Ontario chairs the Federal/Provincial/Territorial internal trade renewal negotiations, with the goal of enhancing and modernizing the 20-year-old framework that oversees trade within Canada.
- We worked closely with the Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade (MCIIT) on Minister Chan’s trade mission to China, resulting in $1 billion in potential new investments by Chinese companies. The joint MCIIT-MEDEI mission to California helped us highlight some of Ontario’s advantages in research and development, clean energy and auto manufacturing.
- In February 2015, we announced recipients of the $4 million Social Enterprise Demonstration Fund, leveraging over $6 million from the private sector.
- In November 2015, we released a report on the progress Ontario has made in piloting one or more Social Impact Bonds.
Enhancing Employment Opportunities for all Ontarians
- In February 2015, responding to the Moran Report, the government committed to identifying barriers to accessibility that must be overcome in individual sectors, starting with the health sector.
- In June 2015, we launched The Path to 2025: Ontario’s Accessibility Action Plan, which focuses on three priorities: engaging employers to understand the value of hiring people with disabilities, building on the province’s accessibility laws and standards, and raising awareness of accessibility in innovative ways.
- In May 2015, we announced the investment of more than $15 million to support additional opportunities for youth in established youth jobs strategy programs.
Building Modern Infrastructure
- We completed stakeholder/public consultations in 16 cities outside the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) to help design initiatives that are part of Moving Ontario Forward.
- We have topped up Moving Ontario Forward funding to $31.5 billion over 10 years to invest in transit, transportation and other priority infrastructure projects, with about $16 billion allocated for inside the GTHA and about $15 billion allocated for outside the GTHA.
- We have announced support for more than 200 infrastructure projects in communities across the province. These investments are part of the government’s plan to invest more than $134 billion over 10 years in infrastructure — the largest infrastructure investment in Ontario’s history.
- In July 2015, Ontario provided its second submission of priority projects, focusing on transit, for funding under the Provincial Territorial Infrastructure Component of the Building Canada Plan, a national 10-year, $47 billion federal infrastructure program.
- Through the Small Communities Fund, the province and federal government each provide $272 million over 10 years to communities with a population under 100,000. To date, 75 projects have been approved as part of the first intake of the fund, which launched in August 2014. In August 2015, the province launched a second intake under the Small Communities Fund.
Developing Infrastructure Investment Strategies
- The Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act received Royal Assent on June 4, 2015. Work has begun on developing the various regulations associated with this legislation. The act will enshrine evidence-based, long-term infrastructure planning in Ontario and support opportunities for apprenticeships, at-risk youth and local communities.
- Launched the first intake of the application-based component for the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund in August 2014. 78 projects were approved in February 2015. Under the formula-based component of the fund, 426 communities are receiving grants. A second intake of the application-based component was launched in July 2015.
Maintaining Models of Alternative Financing and Procurement
- New major provincial infrastructure assets built by Infrastructure Ontario (including hospitals, courthouses, colleges and detention centres) use alternative financing and procurement, including value for money and full life-cycle costing assessments. Implementation of the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act will also mean further consideration of climate change resiliency in infrastructure planning.
In the spring of 2015, the province announced refinements to the AFP model, including moving to a new $100 million threshold to identify projects to assess for delivery through AFP and making prudent adjustments to reduce financing costs without reducing the transfer of risks.
Extending Access to Natural Gas
- We have consulted extensively on the creation of two new programs: the Natural Gas Access Loan ($200 million over two years) and the Natural Gas Economic Development Grant ($30 million), with the goal of providing consumers in underserved communities more energy choices, while promoting business competitiveness and investment attraction.
Premier, I am confident that my ministry, working in collaboration with our partners in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, can continue to deliver on our commitment to the people we are privileged to represent and serve. I look forward to working with you to deliver our government’s mandate — and to ensure a brighter future for all Ontarians.
Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure
|Mandate Letter Commitment||Progress to Date|
|Help to build a strong, diversified and globally competitive economy that will provide jobs, increase productivity and result in more prosperity for all Ontarians.||
|You will ensure that our economic recovery is being felt in all areas of the province, and by all our people — including our youth. You will support a dynamic business climate — supported and enhanced by an innovative health care sector and a dynamic education system — that will help the province continue to attract new businesses to Ontario and compete globally for jobs and investment.||
|You will co-ordinate the province’s investments in world-class infrastructure — fostering economic growth and prosperity throughout the province.||
|Promoting Ontario’s existing strengths and enhancing its reputation as a destination of choice for foreign and domestic private sector investments. You will create partnerships with business through new initiatives, such as the 10-year, $2.5-billion Jobs and Prosperity Fund — and continue existing initiatives, such as the Eastern and Southwestern Ontario Development Funds, and — working with the Minister of Northern Development and Mines — the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund.||
|Collaborating with the Minister of Finance, the President of the Treasury Board and partner Ministers to develop a framework to identify and evaluate optimal partnership investments. Your goal is to strengthen the province’s approach to business supports while balancing the government’s commitment to fiscal sustainability.||
|Developing strategies for key-growth sectors, such as advanced manufacturing and automotive, agri-food, cleantech, financial services, information and communications technology, natural resources, tourism, media and culture. Together, these strategies will represent the government’s broader economic policy objectives, and will support investment and job creation. I ask that you work in co-operation with partner ministers, industry, postsecondary institutions and the not-for-profit sector to develop these strategies.||
|Leading work, as the minister responsible for trade policy — in co-operation with the federal government and Canada’s provinces and territories — to find ways of reducing trade barriers and increasing exports nationally and internationally.||
|Partnering with the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade (MCIIT) to increase Ontario exports and promote Ontario-made goods and services.||
|Working with the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade to establish a ministerial working group. You and the minister will co-chair the group, which will include the ministers of: Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; Education; Energy; Health and Long-Term Care; Northern Development and Mines; Research and Innovation; Training, Colleges and Universities; Tourism, Culture and Sport and other ministers, as appropriate. The committee’s objective is to ensure strong collaboration and information-sharing — and maximize international trade and foreign investment opportunities.||
|Expanding the reach of Ontario’s exports — particularly to fast-growing emerging markets — in partnership with the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade. You will jointly pursue initiatives that expand the opportunity for Ontario firms to connect with foreign buyers and investors, showcase innovative goods and services, and find new markets.||
|Providing support to communities that are still recovering from the global recession, with particular focus on Southwestern and Northern Ontario. You will work with partner ministers to develop strategies to attract new investment and jobs — and connect the demand for jobs with our highly trained workforce in these areas.||
|Working in partnership with business and entrepreneurs to build on our existing commitment to create a strong social enterprise market in Ontario.||
|Continuing to work with partner ministers and industry to explore initiatives to reduce regulatory and administrative burdens, as proposed in the Better Business Climate Act, 2014. If the legislation is passed, I ask that you begin to work with key partners to develop regional cluster plans. Your goal is to adopt smarter regulatory practices without putting public safety at risk.||
|Continuing to implement the Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy, in partnership with the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU). The strategy aims to address the youth unemployment rate by investing $295 million in measures to connect young people with promising careers — and increase opportunities for youth across the province.||
|Increasing the number of employment opportunities for Ontarians of all abilities by establishing new partnerships with business and persons with disabilities.||
|Working with partners to build an accessible Ontario by 2025. I ask that you explore options to develop new accessibility standards in the education or health sector.||
|Working with your colleagues in the legislature to seek the passage of Bill 6, the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, which would establish the requirements for long-term infrastructure planning.||
|Leading the development of the province’s long-term infrastructure plan. You will collaborate with partner Ministers to identify the government’s strategic priorities for infrastructure investment.||
|Prioritizing the government’s infrastructure investments — in partnership with the President of the Treasury Board — to ensure alignment with Ontario’s economic development priorities.||
|Continuing to support strong communities across Ontario by launching the new permanent Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF). The initiative will provide $100 million per year for investment in roads, highways and water infrastructure projects in Ontario’s small and mid-sized communities.||
|Seeking opportunities to further refine our capital investment strategies for infrastructure. Your goal is to align these strategies with asset management planning, growth planning, our economic goals, environmental priorities and the needs of Ontarians.||
|Embracing opportunities to encourage the adoption of innovative technologies that support economic growth and long-term savings. I ask that you ensure that public infrastructure investments encourage the adoption of approaches that maximize the value of our infrastructure dollars and minimize the long-term cost of maintaining infrastructure assets — including ensuring resiliency to the impact of climate change.||
|Implementing the proposed Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, 2014, if passed. The act would enshrine evidence-based, long-term infrastructure planning in Ontario and support opportunities for apprenticeships, at-risk youth and local communities.||
|Continuing to refine the approach to delivering Ontario’s highly effective Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) model — learning from the experience of past projects and current best practices. Your goal is to ensure that AFP remains the best system possible to deliver transit and other infrastructure projects on time, on budget and to specification.||
|Fulfilling our government’s commitment to create a new Natural Gas Access Loan — which will provide up to $200 million over two years to help communities partner with utilities to extend access to natural gas supplies. I also ask that you establish a $30-million Natural Gas Economic Development Grant to accelerate projects with clear economic development potential. Your goal is to provide consumers in underserved communities more energy choices, make commercial transportation more affordable, attract new industry to Ontario, and benefit our agricultural producers.||