Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak says Ontario must take steps to make itself "open for business," to generate new jobs and create a more prosperous economy.
"We need a jobs plan and we need it now," Hudak said Monday, when announcing the details of a private member’s bill that he believes will help generate 1 million jobs over an eight-year-period.
The Official Opposition leader pointed to the province losing some 39,000 jobs last month as a sign that urgent changes are needed.
Hudak wants to slash the provincial business tax rate from 11.5 per cent down to 10 per cent, so that it matches the lowest in Canada — a move he said will help spur job creation.
"I just believe that if you lower taxes in our province, then businesses are going to invest," Hudak said. "They’ll put out a new product, they’ll add a new machine, they’re going to hire men and women."
The PC leader also wants to reduce the provincial debt and establish energy rates that will encourage hiring, so that businesses can thrive. He also wants to "lower the regulatory burden" that businesses must deal with.
Hudak also seeks for the province to boost trade with its neighbours and to be training more skilled workers in Ontario.
Colleges and Universities Minister Brad Duguid said he believed that Hudak’s proposed changes would not have the desired effect, just like the PC leader’s previously stated support for making Ontario a so-called right-to-work province.
"Mr. Hudak's plan is going to impact the stability of our labour environment ... which is an important part of investment decisions by companies," said Duguid. "His right-to-work for less approach to the economy is not going to help middle and lower income workers. It's going to hurt them. It's going to lower their wages."
Also Monday, the Liberal government announced plans to build a new hospital in Niagara Falls, a development that Hudak said he had long supported, but suggested the government now favoured for political reasons.
"The Liberals had not supported that, but now that their member has retired and the seat is open, I guess they're now all for it," Hudak said, referencing the retirement of former Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craitor last year. "I just worry this is more about byelection politics than it is about health care."
The byelection for Niagara Falls has not been scheduled, but must be called by March 24.
A second legislative seat is also vacant in Thornhill, following former PC MPP Peter Shurman’s resignation, which took effect last month.