Premier Dalton McGuinty says he looks forward to working with the officers and members of Local 793 to make construction sites safer and the province more productive.

He told a dinner dance at the union banquet hall Nov. 19 that too many fatalities still occur on construction worksites and “we need to do more in Ontario for construction safety.”

He said the government will do whatever it takes to improve worksite safety and looks forward to drawing on the experience of Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher and his team.

On the economy, he said Ontario is one of the best places in the world to live and work and he thanked Local 793 members for their contributions.

“Thanks to all of you for the work you do everyday,” he said.  “Your success is Ontario’s success.”

The dinner dance was attended by many of the union’s long-service members and their spouses.

McGuinty said Ontario is still in good shape compared to many regions around the world and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place to ride out the present economic storm.

“Even in the middle of this economic storm, Ontario is on good footing. It’s pretty hard to find a better place on this planet than Ontario, Canada.”

McGuinty said the government is doing its part — adding 5,500 kilometres of new roads and highways, making the tax system more competitive and strengthening the electricity system.

Meanwhile, he said, many more Ontarians have a family doctor.

Going forward, McGuinty said the focus of his government will be growing Ontario’s economy.

He expects growth will be slower than after past recessions, and it will take everybody working together to make progress.

He said he’s willing to work with the other political parties and will use good ideas if they bring them forward.

While striving for a balanced budget, McGuinty said he will protect health care and education.

He said Ontarians have faced tough times before and have survived.

“We’ve faced deep economic challenges before and come together,” he said.

During his remarks, McGuinty also spoke about late Local 793 president Gary O’Neill who died Sept. 12.

McGuinty said O’Neill was involved in all aspects of building Ontario — from working as a crane operator at the Rogers Centre when it was being built, to chairing the Working Families Coalition and working on behalf of non-profit housing and those with substance abuse problems.

Oakville MPP Kevin Flynn also spoke about O’Neill at the dinner dance.

He said O’Neill was well-known and respected.

“I just liked Gary,” Flynn said. “I realized at the funeral for Gary that everybody felt the same way.”