The new session of the Ontario Legislature was launched earlier this afternoon with the traditional Speech from the Throne which included a strong expression of support for the tens of thousands of non-profit groups that make a vital contribution to health, housing, social services, culture, recreation, faith and many other essential components of our community.
The speech sets out the priorities of the government in the next session of the Legislature (the last session before the next provincial election is expected). Throne Speeches in Canada tend to be general and almost always lack specifics – and Ontario’s latest Throne Speech followed that pattern. The government has announced what it calls the “Open Ontario Plan” and has outlined general details of a series of initiatives over the next five years that include: water, post-secondary education, health care, northern resources, taxation, green energy, infrastructure, full-day learning and financial services.
In the Throne Speech, the Ontario government makes a commitment to “strengthen the non-profit sector” which the government calls the “unsung heroes of Ontario’s economy”. The Throne Speech notes the vital role that the sector plays in many aspects of the lives of Ontarians, including the province’s poverty reduction strategy. In May of 2009, the Ontario Poverty Reduction Act was passed by the Legislature, including amendment #8 proposed by the Wellesley Institute that recognizes the importance of the third sector.
Here are some excerpts from the Throne Speech on the community sector:
Your government is grateful for the work of Ontario’s 46,000 not-for-profit organizations that are the unsung heroes of Ontario’s economy.
Nearly five million Ontarians volunteer their services in their communities.
Some are helping your government reach its goal of reducing poverty rates by 25 per cent in five years.
Some are coaching our young people — like Sandy Cooper-Ryder of London.
For 30 years she’s been inspiring young people to reach higher, dig deeper and go further — not just on the track, but in all areas of their lives.
Sandy is one of the many dedicated coaches training Ontario’s next generation of gifted young athletes, some of whom will compete in the 2015 Pan American games.
On this International Women’s Day, your government particularly recognizes dedicated women like Sandy — together with all the volunteers who are making a real difference.
Open Ontario will develop new ways to strengthen the not-for-profit sector — recognizing that in a time of more limited resources, we all need to work together to move our province forward.
The specifics remain to be seen, but the explicit Ontario commitment to the non-profit sector is welcome news.