You're going to be seeing many of my government colleagues during this conference. They're here to listen, to learn, to share ideas, and above all, to thank you for your leadership, for building up your communities, for everything you do to support the extraordinary quality of life we enjoy here in Ontario, the greatest province in the best country in the world.

You know, for a lot of us living in the city, you don't have to go back that far in your family to find a connection to rural Ontario. My dad's family farmed in the Ottawa Valley. We're from Osceola, which if you don't know, is a suburb of Cobden.

My dad used to say, one of the rules that he learned on the farm was you never, ever bring anything home that you've got to feed, and that always puzzled me because over the years, my parents brought home nine brothers and sisters.

My grandmother, Anora Foley McGuinty, was a fierce but very fair woman. For example, although she had many, many grandchildren, she treated us all the same: she hated everyone of us.

The story goes, that my grandmother was delivering yet another child, and was having a very difficult labour. So, the parish priest learned of this and dropped by the farm house to comfort her. He said, "Now, Mrs. McGuinty. At times like this, you should think of the Holy family, and especially the Holy parents, Mary and Joseph." My grandmother waited for another painful contraction to go by and said, "Sure. Them and their ONE kid!"

It's good to hear you laugh, especially now, because these are challenging times. Ontario, like Canada, like the rest of the world, is caught in a recession. It's effecting all our communities, all our families, all of us, and while it's true that our financial institutions are now recognized as being the strongest in the world, and while it's also true that there really is no better place than Canada to seek shelter in this global economic storm, that's just not much consolation to you if you're one of the many Ontario families that's been hurt by job loss.

While you and I can't stop a global recession, we need to do everything we can to help our people get through this and come out stronger. That means we're going to have to work more closely together than ever before, and as we work together, we can draw our inspiration from the people we serve: the people of Ontario.

Ontarians are hearty, hard working, resilient and resourceful. Ontarians have never allowed any challenge, no matter how great, to get in the way of making progress for our children and our grandchildren. A tough challenge can slow us down for a while, but our history has clearly shown, we just keep going and getting stronger.

I talked a moment ago about my family roots in the Ottawa Valley. My family settled there in the 1840's. To begin, there were no schools, no healthcare, no government supports. It was a hard existence, but my family, like all Ontario families, just kept going and getting stronger with quiet, relentless determination. Generation after generation of Ontarians kept building up this province through good times and bad.

So, you and I can be absolutely confident that our people are going to get through these tough times too, but it's not enough just to get through today. It's about building for the future as well, and I'm pleased to see that you are already all over this. You are thinking long term.

The other night, I was reading an insightful editorial written by David in Milestones (that's your Good Roads magazine). It was about climate change. Specifically, he was writing about the challenge that heavier snow and rain storms pose for the people who build and maintain our roads.

It's a short-term challenge, but what David pointed out is that to address it, we need long term solutions. I think we all recognize that the energy sources we've been relying on are simply, no longer sustainable for our environment or our budgets. David finishes his editorial by telling us we all need to do more on climate change. He's right, because with the way we've been polluting our air, with the rise in greenhouse gas omissions, the status quo isn't environmentally sustainable.

Ontarians get this. That's why in all your communities, families and businesses are becoming more energy efficient. It's why we're fazing out coal-fired electricity in Ontario, and it's why we've been working on a plan with California, and other states and Quebec to reduce our carbon emissions.

The point I really want to make is this: there is a huge opportunity in this fight against climate change. It's the opportunity to create jobs and build a stronger economy. It's the opportunity to do well for ourselves and good for our planet at the same time. Let me give you an example.

The other day, I visited a dairy farm in Lindsay. Our government is partnering with the farmers there to help them build a generator that's going to turn the manure from 600 cows into clean, green electricity fro 400 homes, and that means jobs - jobs, for example - building and operating that new generator.

Now, that's a great idea, and we're convinced that thousands of Ontarians want to get in on the act by investing in wind turbines, solar panels and bio-mass projects, and that brings me to our new, Green Energy Act. You may have heard something about this already.

It has two, main components. First, it's going to make it easier to bring renewable energy projects to life. Our intention is to unleash a torrent of new, green energy and create for than 50,000 jobs over the next three years. We're talking about jobs in manufacturing and assembly, building, service and installation, engineering, trucking and in the financial sector. I'm talking about jobs for electricians, inspectors, architects and people who design computer software and hardware, and jobs for farmers.

The second focus of the act is to create a culture of conservation, one where we go about our daily lives using less energy, whether it's in our homes, businesses, schools or industrial operations. We've made good progress on that score, but we need to do more. Yes, this is going to mean lower emissions in the fight against climate change, but it also means jobs. Jobs for everyone from architects who can design more efficient homes and buildings and retro-fit existing ones, to contractors and laborers who can upgrade insulation, windows and our furnaces, and that's just a quick glance.

By seizing these new green opportunities, we're going to make our economy stronger. Of course, when it comes to building a strong economy, Ontarians have never stopped working. Together, during the past five years, we have made real gains.

We've created a more highly skilled and educated work force. We have new government business partnerships which have created thousands of new jobs. We have lower business taxes and massive investments in innovation and infrastructure, and we are continuing to strengthen our communities by uploading responsibilities that, in fairness, should be ours in provincial government, and not yours.

Our gains remain a strong foundation for future growth. Our Green Energy Act is going to build on that foundation, so will our budget. Our budget will do what Ontarians want done. We will respond to today's challenges and we will build for the future. That means, continuing to stimulate the economy, and I say continuing because we have been making massive investments in infrastructure for some time now, but you know that.

In November of last year, we invested $1.1 billion in municipal infrastructure. All told, we invested in about $10 billion in infrastructure last year. Just ten days ago, together with the federal government, we invested another $1 billion in infrastructure projects to benefit our smaller communities.

Today in Ontario, there are hundreds of construction projects underway, creating thousands and thousands of jobs. All of this work will help us in the short term, but it's going to take more than stimulus, more than infrastructure to grow stronger for the long term.

Building an Ontario that will compete and win in this post-recession world, building a powerful economy, will take time, and it's going to take all of us working together. Government can't. Even all three levels of government working together, can't build a powerful economy on it's own. Neither can our businesses do that on their own, nor can their workers, but working together, we can build an economy that makes the world sit up and take notice.

Now, our businesses need to catch up to the competition by investing more in research, and development, and new technologies. Our government can and must help here, and we've got to help our workers upgrade their skills. We need a workforce that's not going to be pushed around by globalization. That starts by making sure, at a minimum, our kids - all our kids - finish high school and go beyond.

Finally, you and I in government have got to admit, we have too many rules and regulations in place that make our province uncompetitive. Now, we've started to make changes at Queen's Park to make our government faster and friendlier. For example, we put a six month time limit on environmental assessments for public transit. Now, we will do much the same for renewable energy projects by establishing a new approval process through our Green Energy Act, and there's more to come.

You and I need to understand and accept, we have a vital role to play in building a powerful economy that creates the jobs and supports the public services that our families need. So, I'm asking you to do what I'm doing. Carefully review the red tape you've built up over decades ago. Understand it's impact - it's cumulative impact - on your community's competitiveness when it comes to attracting investment.

Find the barriers standing in the way of new jobs for your families, and start breaking down those barriers. Be smart, not reckless. Always protect public safety, the environment, and our quality of life, but having secured those, be strong in standing up for jobs for your families.

My friends, this global recession calls upon the very best that you and I have to offer. Again, if you're looking for inspiration, look no further than the people we are privileged to represent. We're not fighting for just any group of people, we're not standing up for just any place.

We're standing up for Ontario. We're fighting for Ontarians and the people of Ontario never give up, never give in, no matter what. We just keep going, and we just keep getting stronger.

Thank you very much.

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