Ontario’s legislature begins new session with throne speech, expected to be COVID-focused

TORONTO — Ontario’s legislature reconvenes this morning for the first time since early June with a new session and speech from the throne.

The speech gives Premier Doug Ford an opportunity to present a renewed agenda, though it is delivered through Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell.

The legislature had been set to return on Sept. 13, but early last month Ford prorogued it until after the federal election, which was held Sept. 20.

The prorogation is the government’s first since it came to power more than three years ago, and begins a new legislative session.

Read more:
Could Ford’s unfulfilled promises point to new ones in Ontario throne speech?

Ford’s spokeswoman, Ivana Yelich, says the throne speech will be overwhelmingly focused on the fight against COVID-19, as it is the government’s top priority.

Story continues below advertisement

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says she wants to see a plan to hire more nurses and personal support workers, reduce class sizes and support small businesses.

“I’m just hoping that the throne speech is going to make a complete turn in the opposite direction of where Doug Ford has been taking us,” she said Friday.

Horwath will also be pushing for the creation of safety zones to protect health-care workers from intimidation and harassment.

Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca, who does not have a seat in the legislature, said his party’s priorities include safe classrooms, pushing the province to sign a child-care deal with the federal government, and paid sick days.

READ MORE: Doug Ford calls for unity after election as COVID-19 vaccine certificates loom

Opposition questions to the government in the new session are also expected to touch on rapid testing for schools and an ongoing dispute with the province’s optometrists that has led them to withdraw provincially insured eye services.

Long-Term Care Minister Rod Phillips is also set to announce new legislation governing the sector, establishing a new standard of an average four hours of direct care.