We are committed to balancing the budget by 2007-08. We are facing difficult choices, and we will continue to be focused and disciplined in keeping program spending under control. Our ability to support economic growth, better jobs and a higher standard of living depends on it.
In his autumn economic statement to Ontarians, Minister of Finance Greg Sorbara indicated that modernizing government is a critical component in improving Ontario's finances, and that improving our finances is a critical component to building a stronger economy. Keeping spending under control continues to be a key part of our government's plan to eliminate the deficit. As such, the government will conduct a line-by-line review of every program and service, designed to align long-term budgeting with achieving results in priority areas.
As the Parliamentary Assistant in the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, I have witnessed our government's commitment to transform the health care system. The Minister of Health, the Honourable George Smitherman, understands the need to reign in health care spending. Health care costs cannot continue to grow much more quickly than our ability to pay for them. The manner in which we deliver health services must change, and the transformation agenda is dealing with this very issue.
In the riding, during recent months, much speculation surfaced regarding the capital projects of our hospitals. I am happy to report that the Cornwall Community Hospital and the Winchester and District Memorial Hospital capital projects are on track, and there is no deviation from plans.
The Cornwall Community Hospital has begun its capital campaign, and our community is blessed with the commitment made by Tom and Gail Kaneb to head this ambitious campaign. This capital campaign is a key component to capital work at the Cornwall Community Hospital, and is similar to other capital projects across Ontario. The hospital foundation has set a goal of raising $10 million dollars, and our government has always been committed to the 70/30 % fundraising arrangement. The tender date for the Cornwall Community Hospital project, that is the projected date that the "shovel will be in the ground", remains as the 2006-2007 fiscal year. To further reiterate these points, I have secured a meeting for local officials, (hospital representatives, Mayor Phil Poirier and myself), and the Honourable George Smitherman, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, at the end of November.
The Winchester and District Memorial Hospital is $500,000 away from reaching their capital campaign target of $15 million. At a press conference organized by hospital officials on October 22, 2004, they announced that they project to hit their fundraising target in the spring of 2005, with a construction sart date projected for the spring of 2006. The hospital has a 50/50 % funding arrangement with the province. The community has certainly embraced and supported the "Renewing the Vision" Campaign, and I would like to personally commend and thank the citizens and organizations for their extraordinary support.
Since my last report, I had the pleasure of welcoming the Minister of Labour, the Honourable Chris Bentley, and the Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable Steve Peters, to the riding. Both ministers expressed thanks for the frank and thorough discussions that they were able to have with constituents, while touring businesses and visiting agricultural related events. While both visits were hurried and short, they both expressed the desire to return in the future. As a believer in face-to-face dialogue with government officials and politicians, I shall continue my efforts to bring our leaders to the riding. As well, I hope that constituents will continue to dialogue with me. As said at numerous stops during the visits of Ministers Bentley and Peters, I learn best by one-to-one dialogue and visits with constituents. I thank those who have extended invitations for me to visit farms and agribusinesses, and businesses and industry. These learning experiences help me as I dialogue and debate at Queen`s Park. – less–ZoomInfo