Premier Kathleen Wynne released the following statement today on the province’s support for Ontario cities bidding for Amazon’s second headquarters (HQ2):”Ontario is widely considered a strong contender for Amazon’s second global headquarters and it is not hard to see why.
We have one of the world’s most talented, diverse workforces — and an open commitment to immigration that guarantees this lasting advantage. At a time when others are becoming more insular, unable or unwilling to attract the world’s best and brightest, we are unwavering in our commitment to building a place for the whole world to call home. Our communities are welcoming, inclusive places — places where people want to live. Our government’s commitment to public infrastructure, roads and transit is historic in scale, setting us up for an even more mobile, dynamic future. And we have several attractive sites for HQ2 available, at a highly competitive cost.
Some have asked whether Amazon can afford to operate in Ontario. I think time will prove that the more relevant question is whether Amazon can afford not to be here. For two straight years, Ontario has won Site Selection Magazine’s Canadian Competitiveness Award for being the best place in Canada to make a new business investment. We continue to attract more foreign direct investment than any other Canadian province. Businesses here pay lower corporate taxes than in U.S. states, and the percentage of adults with a postsecondary education exceeds that of any Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nation. The talent and skills of Ontario’s people are our greatest competitive advantage. Since 2010, we’ve created more than 77,000 jobs in the ICT sector. That’s more than New York and Massachusetts combined. And it explains why the list of global tech giants making big moves in Ontario already includes Google, Uber and Thomson Reuters.
Something special is happening in Ontario, and Amazon should take notice. Earlier this month, I wrote personally to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to share Ontario’s enthusiasm about this opportunity and outline why our province is such a great fit for HQ2.
Jeff Bezos is no stranger to the seismic shifts taking place in our economy. He’s one of the people causing those shifts. In Ontario, we understand the opportunity side of today’s changing economy. We’ve gone after it full speed. But we’ve also seen the other side of the equation — the uncertainty, anxiety and unfairness that accompany great economic change. Many people are working harder than ever and are still worried about being left behind. Listening to those voices, we’ve come forward with a plan for a fairer, better Ontario that directly confronts the uncertainty of a changing economy.
Our plan includes free tuition for 210,000 college and university students beginning this year. It makes the biggest expansion of public health care in a generation, by introducing free prescription medications to everyone under 25, saving businesses money and giving every worker more peace of mind.
Finally, our plan is raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and mandating more fairness for workers by bringing in equal pay for part-time and temporary workers. With fairness at the heart of every step we are taking to adapt to change, we are putting in place exactly the kind of foundation a company like Amazon needs to reach new heights.
I told Mr. Bezos that in order to attract Amazon and keep building an environment where the next Amazon can be created right here in Ontario, we have plans to go even further.
These steps include boosting the number of graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by 25 per cent, and graduating 1,000 applied masters students in artificial intelligence-related fields per year, all within five years.
It is important to stress that we are doing these things no matter where Amazon chooses to grow, because these are steps that are helping our businesses create the good jobs of tomorrow, right here in Ontario.
It is our job as a province to make sure Amazon knows that no matter where they go in Ontario, they have a supportive, enthusiastic partner in the provincial government.
We have a compelling case and, I think, a real shot at landing HQ2. And no matter what happens, we can be confident that our plan for a fairer, better Ontario is building a province where there is more opportunity, more security and more chances for everyone to get ahead.”