Northwestern Ontario’s member of provincial parliament says Ontario’s new budget will help to address gaps created by COVID-19 across the region.

“We’ve got to get back on track and build out northwestern Ontario,” said Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford, in an interview with the Q Morning Show. “Hospitals to highways, bridges to broadband, we’re focused on a number of different opportunities.”

The PCs released their 2022 provincial budget in April, but the legislation’s passage was dependent on the party getting re-elected in June. Now, under Doug Ford’s majority government, the Conservatives are once again pushing their platform forward.

Ontario’s Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy tabled the 2022-2023 budget at Queen’s Park earlier this month after Queen’s Park began their summer session of parliament.

Rickford, who also serves as the Minister of Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs, says much of the platform is focused on helping families and communities rebound from the previous two years of COVID-19.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to proceed with the existing projects that people have seen all around Kenora and across the riding. There’s a lot of work to be done, and some of the gaps that were created by COVID-19 have borne new opportunities, so that’s what we’re getting to work on.”

The 2022 Budget, Ontario’s Plan to Build, includes five pillars to success, including Rebuilding Ontario’s Economy, Working for Workers, Building Highways and Key Infrastructure, Keeping Costs Down and A Plan to Stay Open.

It includes $4 billion to bring high-speed internet to every community by 2025, an increase to the general minimum wage to $15.50 by October 1, a $1 billion investment in employment and training programs, $158 billion in infrastructure investments, a long-term plan to address Ontario’s housing crisis and further support for Ontario’s healthcare, homecare and hospitals.

The PCs add they plan to increase base program spending at an average annual rate of about five per cent over the next three years, while eliminating Ontario’s deficit two years earlier than projected in last year’s budget.