Horwath, NDP MPPs celebrate rural Ontario at International Plowing Match

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and the NDP MPPs celebrated the contributions and future of Ontario's agricultural producers at the annual International Plowing Match and Rural Expo in Walton, Tuesday. While in Walton, Horwath said that it’s time for a premier that invests in rural families and agricultural producers, including health care and education close to home, and takes action to deliver relief from sky-high hydro bills.

"I want to thank every farm family for your hard work,” said Horwath. “Every day, you help feed nearly 14 million Ontarians, and the world beyond our province. You never let us down, and you deserve a premier that never lets you down – that means ending the rural school closures and investing in our students, ensuring that there’s good health care close to home for all families, and it means delivering more affordability for your business and for your family, including by bringing Hydro One back into public hands so we have some control over hydro bills, again.”

Ontario's agricultural sector is a vital part of Ontario’s economy, generating more than $36 billion in GDP and accounting for one of every nine Ontario jobs. Horwath said it’s critical that producers have a premier that’s ready to listen to them.

“Farming families need a real partner in government that understands the unique challenges and exciting opportunities in running a successful business in rural Ontario,” said Horwath. “As we celebrate the rich rural culture of our province, we need to do everything we can to give the next generation the opportunity to choose to build their future in rural Ontario. That starts with a government that listens to producers and is ready to work with Ontario farms to help them take their place as world leaders in agriculture and agribusiness.”


NDP mental health ministry PMB passes crucial vote

Today, an NDP bill that would create a ministry devoted to mental health and addictions passed a critical vote in the legislature. Every Wynne Liberal present voted against the improvement for mental health and addictions -- but several left the house before the vote, allowing those in favour to outnumber the Liberals. 
“By voting against this important legislation, Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals are showing Ontarians exactly where their priorities lie,” said Ontario New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath. “Across this province, people living with addiction and mental health issues are struggling to access the care and resources they need. People requiring urgent care are left languishing on waiting lists, or are simply being left to fend for themselves where no programs exist at all.
“Mental health and addiction services should be more than an afterthought, but with programs spread across multiple ministries, it hasn’t had the attention or focus it needs. Creating a separate ministry would put in place the coordination, dedicated resources and attention currently missing in Ontario – and that would move us forward, towards better health for those living with mental health challenges or addiction.”
The legislation, introduced by NDP Health critic France Gélinas, would create a new ministry tasked with – amongst other things –  “[leading] the transformation of Ontario’s mental health and addictions services; … [ensuring] that all Ontario residents have timely and equitable access to an integrated system of mental health and addictions care; … and [ensuring] that all Ontarians can seamlessly navigate mental health and addictions supports.”
The last Conservative government gutted Ontario’s health care system, laying off thousands of front line staff – including 6,000 nurses – and closing dozens of hospitals. This Liberal government has only made things worse by freezing hospital budgets and leaving our health care staff without the resources they need to do their jobs.
“Creating a ministry to focus on mental health and addictions will set us up to deliver better health to Ontario people. I look forward to working with my fellow New Democrats to keep pushing this legislation until we get the job done, and taking the next step to help Ontario families living with mental health and addiction issues,” said Gélinas.  “For mental health and addiction services, we can do so much better. Creating a ministry to focus on mental health and addictions will set us up to deliver better health to Ontario people.”

Ontario’s New Democrats pass motion to find and fix systemic issues in long term care

Today, Ontario’s New Democrats passed a critical motion to broaden the inquiry into the long-term care homes system to include understaffing, underfunding and other systemic issues.

The motion passed despite opposition from the Wynne Liberal government. Now, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says she'll be focused on getting action, so seniors and their families aren't disappointed again. 

“Seniors and their families continue to experience resident-on-resident violence and staff shortages in long-term care,” said Horwath. “It’s time to do something about this. We have a chance – with an expanded inquiry – to find and fix what’s broken in seniors care in Ontario.”

Before the vote on the motion, Horwath and NDP Long-Term Care and Seniors’ Affairs critic Teresa Armstrong hosted dozens of people from across the province with loved ones in care. They called on the Wynne Liberals to pass the NDP motion, expand the public inquiry into long-term care homes and get to the bottom of poor and all too often dangerous conditions.

"The people who came to Queen’s Park today each have a story about how our system is failing their loved ones,” said Armstrong. “Together, we got some movement -- but we’re not going to stop here. The Wynne government must expand the long-term care inquiry immediately — our seniors and their families cannot afford to wait any longer.”

Horwath and Armstrong, joined by families around the province, are calling for a two-phase inquiry into long-term care. The first phase would look specifically at the Wettlaufer murders, the second would consider systemic issues like quality of care, funding and staffing levels. 

“No one should have to live without basic dignity,” said Horwath. “It’s time to get to the bottom of the problems in seniors’ care – and do something about it. I know that we can take care of our parents and grandparents so much better than we do today.”

We’re failing our seniors: Ontario’s New Democrats call for vote on public inquiry into systemic issues in long-term care

Today, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and NDP Long-Term Care and Seniors' Affairs critic Teresa Armstrong announced the NDP will introduce a motion to immediately broaden the scope of the inquiry into the long-term care homes system to include systemic issues in long-term care – including understaffing, underfunding and quality of care.
“Long-term care in this province has reached a breaking point,” said Horwath. “Some families feel powerless as their parents or grandparents live in fear of resident-on-resident violence. And for many, understaffing means a lack of help, health and dignity. We’ve heard of residents left in bed for 18 hours. We’ve heard of residents who don’t get enough help for basic hygiene, or even to get to the bathroom on time. Most workers try their very best to deliver support and care, but they are run off their feet.
“It doesn’t need to be this way. An expanded inquiry will give us an honest picture of systemic issues in long-term care — issues we can solve.”
In August, Ontario launched a public inquiry into the long-term care specific to the conditions that allowed multiple murders to be committed by Elizabeth Wettlaufer, but the Wynne government limited scope of the inquiry so it does not include systemic issues like quality of care, funding or staffing levels. Horwath and families throughout Ontario pushed then for a broader inquiry, but their calls were ignored. Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Horwath and Armstrong were joined by families from across Ontario who continue to be let down by the system. Their loved ones can’t wait any longer for action.
“Governments have ignored these issues, and ignored families, for too long,” said Armstrong. “Seniors care has deteriorated ever since the Conservatives fired 6,000 nurses and closed thousands of hospital beds, and families continue to be disappointed as conditions deteriorate further under Wynne. It’s time for a clear understanding of the issues in seniors long-term care – when we find the root causes of the problems, we can fix them.”

NDP Statement on Sudbury bribery trial

NDP Justice critic Gilles Bisson issued the following statement on the ongoing bribery trial of Liberal insiders relating to the 2015 Sudbury by-election:

“From today’s testimony, it's clear Kathleen Wynne was involved from the beginning. She knew what was happening in Sudbury, and she provided direction throughout the lead-up to that by-election.

Today, we’ve also heard a lot of new information that she failed to provide when asked repeatedly by media and in the legislature. Yet Kathleen Wynne often still responded to questions by saying she couldn't recall or didn't clearly remember.

This scandal speaks to the quality of leadership – or lack thereof – in the Ontario Liberal Party, and this government. Ontarians deserve better. They deserve a government that's not focused on itself, but one that's focused on Ontario’s families.”

NDP: Liberal government abandoning small communities

Timiskaming-Cochrane MPP John Vanthof says the future of small Ontario communities is being brought into question by a Liberal government more focused on making money than serving Ontario’s residents fairly, whose long list of cuts now include LCBO locations critical to local families and tourism-driven communities.

“The area around Larder Lake has about 1,000 residents. The town has one gas station, one co-op grocery store, two restaurants, several tourist lodges and campgrounds and, until recently, it had one LCBO outlet. In a northern Ontario tourist town, an LCBO outlet is an anchor store,” explained Vanthof during question period this morning. “Due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, the LCBO could no longer stay in their current location. But instead of moving locations, they … abandoned the town. They abandoned the residents.

Ontario households squeezed by worst income growth in Canada

Despite paying high prices for everything from hydro to housing, Ontario households faced the slowest median income growth in the nation according to 2016 Census data from Statistics Canada.

“This report shows what families already know – they’re being squeezed,” said NDP Economic Development critic Catherine Fife. “Household costs have gone up under Kathleen Wynne, but wages are being held back.

NDP: Wynne Liberals ignoring pension crisis, letting down Ontario Sears workers

With Sears Canada in court this week applying to scrap its pension, Ontario’s New Democrats are calling on the Wynne Liberals to finally take action protect Ontario workers and pensioners during bankruptcy proceedings.

“The Sears pensioners are getting the rug pulled out from under them and Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government is looking the other way,” said Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. “Liberal and Conservative governments in Ontario have ignored and mistreated workers and pensioners so investors, creditors and bankscould pocket even more money.”

Wynne government failing Windsor flood victims: MPP Hatfield

Today, NDP Municipal Affairs and Housing critic and Windsor-Tecumseh MPP Percy Hatfield demanded that the Wynne government change the criteria for assistance through the Ontario Disaster Recovery Assistance Program to allow families experiencing sewer backups to qualify.

“Criteria for Ontario’s disaster relief assistance program were written in the last century,” said Hatfield. “Sewer backup claims during torrential rainfalls aren’t covered. In our area - We had more than 6,000 homes flooded recently and the minister of Municipal Affairs took a look and says few of them will qualify under the existing guidelines. Well duh – let’s change the guidelines.”

New Democrats commit to creating a Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions

Today, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and NDP Health Critic France Gélinas announced legislation to create a ministry devoted to mental health and addictions in Ontario. 
“Everyone who needs access to mental health or addiction services should be able to get them, when they need them,” said Horwath. “But that’s simply not happening in Ontario today. Too many people requiring urgent addiction treatment are left languishing on waiting lists. And too many people desperate for mental health care are being let down by the Wynne government – which treats mental health and addictions as an afterthought, left to fight for funding in an already-underfunded health care system.” 
“Mental health and addictions services need more resources, more funding and more attention. I believe that having a Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions will help us get there.”
Horwath and Gélinas were joined at a press conference by Noah Irvine, a high school student from Guelph who lost both his parents to mental illness.
“I hope all parties will show support for this bill. We need to make mental health and addictions a real priority,” said Irvine. Seven years ago, the all-party select committee made important recommendations, but almost nothing has been done. We can’t wait any longer for action to improve mental health and addictions services.”
In 2010, the Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions issued 23 recommendations to improve mental health and addictions services, including the creation of Mental Health and Addictions Ontario.
“Seven years later Ontario still does not have a Mental Health and Addictions system,” said Gélinas. “Ontario’s mental health and addictions services are scattered across 11 different Ministries. Depending on who you are and where you live the services that are available to you vary greatly. It’s time to give mental health and addictions a home, and the focus and attention it needs for us to start delivering care families can count on.” 

NDP MPP challenges Wynne on her involvement in Sudbury bribery scandal

On the eve of Kathleen Wynne's scheduled appearance in court, Ontario’s NDP challenged Premier Wynne on her involvement in the 2015 Sudbury by-election bribery scandal. During question period, Kitchener-Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife questioned Premier Wynne on the lengths she and the Liberal Party were willing to go to have now Minister of Energy Glenn Thibeault as their candidate.

Before the 2015 Sudbury by-election, Thibeault was appointed as the riding’s Liberal candidate, circumventing the local riding association’s plan to hold a democratic nomination meeting. 

Fife called on Wynne to answer a simple question: “Was the premier aware that the Sudbury riding association had requested a democratic nomination meeting and not an appointment from her office?”

Wynne refused to answer that or any other questions asked of her about the appointment of Minister Thibeault as candidate, and the bribery that was alleged to have happened in the process.

“The people of this province deserve a government that respects the democratic process, not one that only abides by the democratic process when it benefits them,” said Fife.

Horwath calls for further protections for temp workers

Today during question period, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called on the Wynne Liberals to hear the alarm bells, and take action to protect temp agency workers.

“Temp work is on the rise in Ontario, but the Wynne Liberals have done nothing to protect these vulnerable workers,” said Horwath.   

Horwath referenced recent media coverage about the oftentimes squalid and dangerous conditions that many temp workers find themselves in, and noted that these conditions have led to deaths – including the tragic workplace accident that took the life of 23 year old Amina Diaby last year in Toronto.

NDP MPP Sattler says Wynne Liberals continue to fail London’s vulnerable children and youth

London West MPP Peggy Sattler rose in the legislature today to demand that the Wynne Liberals address the crisis created by chronic underfunding of vital mental health services for children and youth. 

“This summer I met with the board chairs of seven local children and youth mental health agencies, including Vanier, Craigwood, Merrymount, WAYS, Anago and London Family Court Clinic. Each month, the boards of these agencies are not only forced to consider service cuts, but even whether they can continue to keep their doors open,” said Sattler.

Local NDP MPPs Disappointed with Wynne’s Response to Flooding in Windsor & Essex County

With MPPs returning to Queen’s Park today, Windsor and Essex-area NDP MPPs Lisa Gretzky and Taras Natyshak called on Premier Wynne to immediately assist Windsor and Essex County in the aftermath of severe flooding this summer.  

“For the second time in 12 months, area residents have had to recover and rebuild their lives,” stated MPP Natyshak. “The premier tweeted that she’d help. But we’ve really seen nothing. Municipal staff continue to be spread thin, desperately trying to keep up with amount of debris that needs to be cleared.”

Horwath to Wynne: what did you know, and when did you know it?

With the trial of two top Liberal operatives, including Premier Wynne’s former Deputy Chief of Staff, underway, it didn’t take long for Ontarians to learn shocking new details about how far the Wynne Liberals were willing to go to win the 2015 Sudbury by-election. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath demanded answers from Kathleen Wynne and her government during the first question period of the fall sitting of the legislature. 
Horwath demanded answers from Premier Wynne about what she knew and when she knew it, when it comes to the alleged bribery of the current Minister of Energy, Glenn Thibeault.
“It’s alleged that the Minister of Energy demanded paid jobs for staffers in exchange for running as the Liberal candidate in the by-election,” said Horwath. “Can the premier tell us right now – did she agree to this demand?”
Wynne refused to answer that, or any of the questions asked of her in question period. 
It appears from the evidence heard in court that the only reason Mr. Thibeault was not charged alongside other Liberal insiders is that it is only illegal to offer a bribe, it’s not illegal to accept one. 
“Things are getting harder in Ontario. Health, education and the services we count on are being cut,” said Horwath.  “We need a government focused on undoing that damage and making life easier for Ontario families.
But it looks like Wynne and her party have been focused on themselves and their internal party politics. Kathleen Wynne has disappointed Ontarians – and she is making it worse the longer she refuses to answer questions about what she knew about the bribery scandal, and when she knew it.”

NDP: Urgent action needed to solve capacity crisis in Ontario hospitals

With the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) raising alarm bells about a worsening capacity crisis in Ontario’s hospitals over the winter months, Ontario New Democratic Leader Andrea Horwath says the Wynne Liberals must act now to reverse decades of cuts to Ontario’s health care system.

“The last Conservative government fired 6,000 nurses, eliminated 7,000 beds, and shuttered dozens of hospitals. When the Liberals came into power, instead of reversing those cuts, they froze health care spending, slashed more front line jobs, and continued to worsen the health care crisis across this province,” said Horwath this morning. “The OHA is highlighting what many Ontarians have already experienced firsthand: Ontario’s hospitals are overcrowded, and – without a major change – things are only going to get worse."

Marijuana distribution plan leaves questions

Ontario NDP Attorney General Critic Gilles Bisson issued the following statement.

“Today’s announcement by the Wynne government is an obvious attempt to distract from the Liberal bribery trial now underway, and the upcoming Liberal gas plant scandal trial. Something as important as Ontario’s framework guiding the use and retail of recreational marijuana should not leave the public with more questions than answers.

Ontarians expect to see a comprehensive plan for the safe distribution of marijuana with detailed information. Now, we're left to ask if the number of locations is correct, where they'll be located, how communities will be involved in the decision process, and how pot products will be priced and taxed.  It seems like a partial plan, without road safety measures in place, was rushed out the door for political cover.

Ontarians have been let down by Wynne so many times, I can understand why people are concerned that she'll fumble this major change.”

Open Letter: Andrea Horwath to Premier Kathleen Wynne regarding the flooding in Windsor area

September 7, 2017
Hon. Kathleen Wynne Premier of Ontario
Room 281, Main Legislative Building Queen's Park, Toronto, ON M7A 1A1
Dear Premier Wynne:
Today, I joined Windsor area MPPs as well as the City's Mayor to survey the damage caused by severe flooding and speak to impacted residents.
I was both shocked and saddened by the extent of the damage. The basements of more than 5,000 homes were flooded, residents went without power for days, and thousands of families are still coping with the effects of the record breaking rainfall. While I am relieved that the rainfall has subsided, our attention must now turn to assisting city officials in clearing damaged property from streets and helping Windsor families get their lives back on track.