NEWS

Wynne touts job creation at Liberal gathering in Windsor

10/18/2014 07:36 EDT | Updated 12/18/2014 05:59 EST
Job growth is at the top of the list for Ontario's new Liberal majority government, Premier Kathleen Wynne said on Saturday.

"The manufacturing sector in this region took a very serious hit in the economic downturn and you know we're seeing that come back," Wynne told about 500 party members during a weekend meeting at Caesar's Hotel in Windsor, the first such gathering since the spring election. "It's very important that we work to create the economic growth and prosperity we know is possible in Windsor.

"We have worked with the auto sector consistently. We will continue to do that. All of the auto companies and, you know, the auto sector is extremely important to the province of Ontario and will continue to be so for many years to come."

She said her government will focus on four pillars: better infrastructure, improved skills training, a competitive  business climate and stronger pensions.

"For me the imperative right now is a process — that we get our legislative agenda moving — and in order to implement our plan that`s going to be a necessity," Wynne said.

Pension plan changes

She said the government hopes to roll out changes to the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan by 2017.

"There is legislative change and legislative policy that we're going to have to bring in on that file. We need to get those things started now," the premier said.

Wynne began her speech by inviting former Liberal cabinet minister Teresa Piruzza on stage. The former Windsor West MPP was one of just two Liberals to lose a seat last election.

Windsor was an unusual choice to hold the party's meeting. The closest Liberal holding a seat is 200 kilometres away in London. The London North Centre seat is held by Deb Matthews, who is also a deputy minister.

"We're going to have a great weekend here in Windsor," Matthews told the gathering. "It will be the first time we've had a chance to get together and really celebrate the victory of this spring, but most importantly really get to work on what we`re going to do with the mandate we've been given."

NDP critical

However, Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky, said choosing Windsor was a ploy by the Liberals to get back into southwestern Ontario.

"Having been in the room I can see clearly that the Liberals feel like their on cloud nine after their election win," the NDP critic said. "But I think in reality, they're really on MaRS and so far that trip has cost us over $300 million and continues to costs us $450,000 a month."

The Liberals have been under fire from the opposition for using taxpayers' money on MaRS, a Toronto-based, privately run centre that helps medical researchers and high-tech firms get products to the marketplace.

Infrastructure Ontario loaned MaRS $224 million in 2011 to build an office tower in downtown Toronto. That loan is now in default, the tower is mostly empty and taxpayers are on the hook for monthly interest payments of $450,000.

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