These past several months have been difficult for our community, but we have shown tremendous resolve and made countless sacrifices so we can all get back to enjoying the things we have missed.

As a former small business owner, I know firsthand the challenges our local businesses and workers have faced. Thanks to the tireless work of our front-line health-care workers and the record-setting success of our vaccine rollout, we will get through this pandemic and emerge stronger than ever.

With the release of our Fall Economic Statement, we are focusing on three pillars: Protecting our Progress, Building Ontario and Working for Workers.

We are providing $51 billion in support to protect the progress we have made, build Ontario and help our workers. To do so, we are investing $30.2 billion to build hospital infrastructure; we are providing nearly $2 billion for community projects in addition to $14 billion to build more schools; and we are increasing take-home pay for workers by 4.5 per cent.

To ensure people can get the health care they need, our strong investments into hospital infrastructure will be met with an additional $342 million to add new and upskilled registered nurses and registered practical nurses as well as personal support workers.

The province has a plan to build Ontario’s future by getting shovels in the ground. Much like the announcement for six new schools along with two post-secondary campuses in Milton, we are investing almost $2.6 billion for new projects like the Ontario Highways Program, building hospitals, housing and high-speed internet, along with providing $3 billion in urgent support to over 110,000 small businesses.

The government has a plan to build up Ontario’s workforce by proposing to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. We are also providing $90.3 million in skilled trades training, along with an additional $5 million so workers can learn in-demand new skills.

This is a plan for protecting our progress against the pandemic, and it’s a plan that looks to the future.