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New premier brings exactly what Ontario needs at this time

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

Premier Kathleen Wynne has asked me to take on the Ministry of Community and Social Services, giving me responsibility to shepherd the important changes recommended by the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario.

It’s a very large task, but it’s one for which I have some passion. I will be proud to continue serving Hamilton and Ontario in this new capacity.

I’m extremely happy for Kathleen’s victory. I supported her throughout the leadership campaign because I believe she brings exactly what Ontario needs at this time.

She has a deep grasp of the issues, and she knows that people come first.
She has the right priorities. I’m very pleased that she’s taking on the agriculture and rural affairs role – truly – because I know that as premier she can provide a focus on rural affairs which will be felt across government and have an impact on every policy decision. Only good can come of this for rural Ontario.

Premier Wynne has also said she wants to see a plan to implement significant improvements to social assistance in Ontario, based on the recent review by Frances Lankin and Munir Sheikh.

Their ground-breaking report charts a new course for social assistance. It will make the system simpler, more effective and more accountable, while removing barriers to employment and increasing opportunities to work.

This vital priority will have a very positive impact on many people in our community.

Premier Wynne has also placed priority on dealing with transportation in the GTHA – another issue that’s critically important to Hamilton. I agree with her that it’s time to get on with “the Big Move,” the plan to rebuild transportation and tackle gridlock.

And, by the way, if you’d like to learn more about this plan, there’s a public meeting this Saturday, 1-3pm, at the Dundas Town Hall.

• • •

I began this column wishing everyone a happy Valentine’s Day. It may be a corny holiday, but it’s a noble sentiment. You can never go wrong showing affection to the important people in your life.

So let me end by taking this opportunity to express my gratitude to the four wonderful women in my life, my wife Barb and our three daughters, whose love and support makes everything possible.

I don’t deserve it, but I’m endlessly grateful.

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