Open Letter from Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath: Premier Wynne must support Toronto’s effort to establish supervised-injection sites

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath sent the following open letter calling on Premier Wynne to support the efforts of Mayor Tory and Toronto City Councillors to establish three life-saving supervised-injection sites. Horwath said that the Province must do its part to reduce the harm of a nationwide overdose crisis by providing immediate funding and letters of support for this vital program.

NDP: Ontarians struggling to find good jobs

NDP Economic Development and Employment Critic Catherine Fife says Ontario’s year-end job numbers confirm what too many Ontarians already know: it’s getting harder to find full-time, secure employment in Ontario.

“From December 2015 to December 2016, 74,000 of the 81,000 jobs created in Ontario were part time jobs,” said Fife. “Families in Ontario are struggling. Trying to piece together a decent income from precarious part-time work is only going to make things worse.”

Horwath visits family struggling to keep up with hydro bills

Today Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath sat down with Sault resident Charlene Lovelace to discuss how the skyrocketing cost of hydro is affecting her family.

“I have been travelling the province listening to people like Charlene for almost two years now.  Hydro bills are skyrocketing all over Ontario and the NDP  has been putting forward real solutions that will address the immediate needs of Ontarians who are finding it harder and harder to build a good life in our province,” said Horwath.  “As elected representatives, we have a responsibility to every single person in this province to work to make life easier, not harder.  Ontario can be a great place to live, but we need to make sure that the next generation has a future here.”

NDP’s Armstrong brings vision and leadership to London-Fanshawe

Current London-Fanshawe MPP Teresa Armstrong has been nominated by the London-Fanshawe NDP riding association to run in the upcoming provincial general election, continuing the hard work she has done in the riding since first being elected in 2011.

“London-Fanshawe is my home,” said Armstrong. “I’m proud to represent this riding, and I look forward to the coming election, and working alongside Andrea Horwath and my NDP colleagues to offer Londoners and Ontarians a better future.”

Armstrong is a well-known community leader in London, with a long history of volunteering with different community organizations and causes. As NDP Critic for Home and Long-Term Care, and Seniors’ Affairs, she has been a champion for vulnerable Ontarians, working to improve the lives of seniors, retirees, and people living with long-term health challenges. In September 2016, a private member’s bill from Armstrong was passed, establishing October as Islamic Heritage Month in Ontario.

“I couldn’t be more proud to have Teresa on our team today, and moving toward the general election,” said Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. “Teresa is a fantastic advocate for her constituents, and a highly respected MPP here at Queen’s Park. She works hard every single day to build a better, fairer Ontario for everyone.” 

“The Wynne Liberals are making it harder to live in Ontario and build a good life, especially for young people, and Patrick Brown’s PCs will only make things worse,” said Armstrong. “Ontario’s New Democrats believe in building a better province, where people have access to the education, healthcare, and good jobs they need and deserve. I’m proud to bring that message here to London-Fanshawe, and to help spread it across the province.”

Open Letter from Andrea Horwath: Review MPAC assessment that threatens cultural hub at 401 Richmond

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath issued the following open letter calling on the Premier to review an MPAC assessment that threatens the future of the cultural hub at 401 Richmond. See attached and below.

December 20, 2016

Office of the Premier 
Main Legislative Building, Queen's Park 
Room 281 Toronto, Ontario 
M7A 1A1
Dear Premier Wynne:
I wanted to make you aware of some issues that have been raised recently concerning the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.
As you know, MPAC is the provincially-controlled, municipally-funded agency that assesses the values of properties in Ontario under the Assessment Act. MPAC and the system of Current Value Assessment for property taxes were introduced by the Ontario PC government in 1997, and have been maintained by your government in largely the same form.
You may have recently read that the future of 401 Richmond, an irreplaceable cultural hub in downtown Toronto, is now in doubt as a result of property tax increases of 85%, following MPAC’s most recent assessment.
The problem is, MPAC does not assess the value of commercial or industrial properties based on their current use, or even based on uses that are allowed under current zoning rules. Instead, 401 Richmond was assessed based on the value of the 30-storey condo tower that MPAC imagines might exist in its place. This is known as the principle of “highest and best use.”
MPAC uses the same principle when assessing the value of Toronto’s heritage properties. Even though these properties theoretically cannot be demolished under Toronto’s heritage rules, MPAC assesses their value as if they had already been knocked down to make room for condo towers.
The Ontario Municipal Board plays a supporting role here when it ignores heritage conservation rules, favouring developers and setting a precedent that is hard to push back against. Former NDP MPP Rosario Marchese, in whose former riding 401 Richmond sits, fought hard to rein in the OMB’s extraordinary ability to rewrite Toronto’s planning and heritage conservation rules while ignoring municipal and provincial statutes, plans and policies.
The destructive combined actions of MPAC and the OMB are block-busting Toronto’s heritage districts and threatening the future of vital cultural hubs like 401 Richmond, and this needs to stop.
It is regrettable that your new Modernizing Ontario's Municipal Legislation Act (Bill 68) does not include MPAC reform within its scope, nor does it include most other financial measures that municipalities have been demanding for years.
401 Richmond and Toronto’s heritage properties however, cannot wait for your next review of municipal finances. They need MPAC reform now. I urge you to immediately take a closer look at MPAC and review its principle of “highest and best use.”
[signed in original]
Andrea Horwath
Leader of the Ontario NDP

Statement by Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath on the Resignation of MPP David Orazietti

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath issued the following statement on the resignation of MPP David Orazietti.

“On behalf of Ontario’s New Democrats, I want to congratulate David Orazietti for more than a decade of public service as the Member of Provincial Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie. While we didn’t always see eye-to-eye on matters of policy, I respect his commitment to his constituents and to his community. We wish David the very best in his future projects.”


New NDP critic portfolios offer leadership Ontarians need

As planning begins for the 2017 legislative session, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has announced new critic portfolios for the NDP caucus at Queen’s Park.

“Our caucus has some of the strongest voices at Queen’s Park,” said Horwath. “Our team is very diverse, and brings a lot of different expertise from across the province to the table. We are aligning our critic portfolios to best make use of that expertise, and offer the kind of leadership Ontarians need in the new year.”

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath letter to Mayor Tory

This morning, Ontario New Democratic Leader Andrea Horwath sent the following letter to Mayor Tory, on the subject of municipal revenue challenges:

Office of the Mayor
City Hall, 2nd Floor
100 Queen St. W.
Toronto ON  M5H 2N2

December 13, 2016

Mayor Tory; 

Like many cities across the province, Toronto is facing very real challenges in terms of maintaining existing infrastructure, and making new investments in important initiatives like transit. I believe the lack of financial support by successive Provincial and Federal governments has contributed significantly to these challenges. 

Bill 41, Patients First Act, fails Ontarians, does nothing to fix broken home care system

NDP Health Critic and MPP for Nickel Belt, France Gélinas expressed her disappointment with the passage of the controversial Bill 41, Patients First Act, which became law on December 8th after it was passed by the majority Liberal government in the Legislature.

“Significant attempts were made by the NDP to have the bill amended to fix home care, and better address the health care concerns of patients and health care practitioners in Ontario. In its current form the act does little to actually put ‘patients first,’” said Gélinas.

The government claims they consulted health care practitioners in the province, but after public committee hearings at the Legislature, it became clear that many key organizations involved in health care delivery in Ontario had not been consulted and held serious concerns about flaws in the legislation.

These flaws could lead to bureaucrats accessing patient’s confidential health records, Local Health Integrated Networks (LHINs) appointing unaccountable supervisors to community agencies, as well as create an opening to further privatization of health care. The bill also fails to improve health care access for First Nations and Francophones. NDP amendments addressing these flaws were voted down by the Liberals. 

Most shocking of all, “Bill 41 was brought forward because our home care system is broken. Nothing in this bill will fix our broken home care system,” emphasized Gélinas. The bill will make the board of the CCAC disappear, but the board was never the problem, and it changes the position of CEO of a CCAC into VP of a LHIN.  Nothing else changes, the poor quality of home care, the long wait list for people needing home care, the rationing of care, the missed appointments- all of that stays the same! 

“Before Bill 41 was passed by the government, my office received hundreds of letters from concerned Ontarians asking us to make sure the bill was changed or completely scrapped. Since Bill 41 became law, we continue to receive letters asking that the law be repealed. Ontarians are extremely concerned and so are New Democrats,” she said.

NDP to Wynne: protect Niagara jobs, delay casino RFP process

Wayne Gates, Ontario NDP MPP for Niagara Falls, rose in question period today to urge the Premier to respect the wishes of Niagara Falls City Council and the Niagara Regional Council as they request a delay in the RFP process for a new casino operator. 

“The way this process works, the focus is on upfront payments to the government and not on economic development, investment, job creation, or job protection,” said Gates. 

The casinos in Niagara are the single biggest employer in the region with more than 4,000 employees; they rely on business from the GTA in order to stay profitable. Local politicians and business leaders have made it clear that unless the RFP is delayed and altered to include economic development, investment, job creation, and job protection, none of the big name casino operators will be submitting a bid.

“The way this RFPQ and RFP process is being run we know that those big name gaming companies aren’t going to bid. If they don’t bid, fewer people will travel from Toronto and that will put 1,500 good jobs in Niagara on the chopping block,” said Gates.  “City Council has passed three unanimous resolutions and the Niagara Regional council recently passed another supporting this process, but they want to make sure that the whole region gets the economic benefit.”

Gates urged the Premier to listen to the local experts and leaders, asking, “will the Premier commit today to delaying the RFP/RFPQ process to allow for it to be re-written giving greater weight to job creation, investment, economic development, and job protection as requested by the City of Niagara Falls and the entire Region of Niagara?”

NDP MPP Gretzky demands Premier make affordable electricity her New Year’s resolution

During the last question period of the fall sitting, Windsor West NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky demanded that the Premier make electricity more affordable and stop the sell-off of Hydro One in the New Year.

“While this government sits idly by and makes excuses, the rising price for electricity continues to make life more difficult for our most vulnerable citizens,” said Gretzky. “The Downtown Mission in Windsor used to serve about 1100 people a month, now they serve 800 a week—it seems this is the only business that expands as hydro prices soar.” 

Gretzky listed a number of businesses, not-for-profits, and charities that are struggling to provide services to clients and residents. She called on the government to do more to help them. 

“While businesses, charities and non-profits are doing all they can, this government continues to make life more difficult,” said Gretzky. “Will the Premier make providing real relief from hydro bills and stopping any further sell-off of Hydro One her New Year’s resolution in 2017?”

Ontarians deserve hope and opportunity not broken Liberal promises

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath wrapped up the fall legislative session calling for bold change including: affordable hydro, repairing the serious damage the Liberal government has done to our health and education systems, opportunities for youth, and good jobs and decent benefits for every Ontarian.

“Ontario is at a tipping point. Families are struggling to pay their bills and are worrying about what the future holds,” said Horwath. “Ontarians deserve to have hope again and real opportunity for their kids right here at home.” 

Rather than delivering on the “reset” she promised at the beginning of this session, Premier Wynne has allowed hydro rates to skyrocket and is pushing ahead with the sell-off of Hydro One despite strong opposition by the majority of Ontarians. Instead of listening to public concerns the Liberals are severely underfunding healthcare and education. The NDP Leader said it’s now clear. The only “reset” will be on June 7th, 2018.

“Nobody voted for a Premier who does more for Liberal insiders, than she does for families,” said Horwath. “We need a government that puts people first, for a change. And that’s exactly what New Democrats are working to deliver.”

Horwath said that overcrowding in hospitals must end and that patients shouldn’t have to wait so long for the care they need. She said that the Liberals should stop hurting communities by closing local schools and that government should help graduates from growing debt by removing the interest from student loans. 

“We have to make it much easier, for all Ontarians, to find a good job, with good pay and decent benefits,” said Horwath, calling on the government to bring in a $15 minimum wage and make changes to employment standards so that every worker can care for their loved ones, spend time with their families and share in all this province has to offer.

NDP’s Taylor demands premier restore program funding for children with autism

Monique Taylor, MPP for Hamilton Mountain and NDP critic for children and youth services, demanded that Premier Wynne restore funding to Yes I Can Nursery in Toronto that offers specialized programs for children with autism.

Yes I Can Nursery in Toronto provides programming for children with autism but those programs are now in jeopardy because the government is cutting their funding.

“Your government claims this was ‘one time funding’ but Yes I Can has been receiving this funding for the past nine years. They have built their programs with the understanding they were working toward sustainable funding but, out of the blue, the funding was cut,” said Taylor.

Taylor recounted the story of a single mother who moved house from Brampton to Toronto so that her severely autistic daughter could get the programming she needs at Yes I Can.

“The girl is now in the specialized communication classes at Yes I Can full-time. However, if funding is not restored, those classes could come to an end,” Taylor said.

“Will the premier keep her commitment to children with autism and restore funding to Yes I Can?” demanded Taylor.

Statement by Andrea Horwath on National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

Twenty-seven years ago today, the lives of fourteen women were cut painfully short at l’École Polytechnique in Montreal, in a hateful act of violence against women. 

Ontario’s New Democrats, alongside all Canadians, mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women by mourning and honouring Geneviève Bergeron, Helene Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, and Annie Turcotte. 

Today in Canada, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls reminds us that the threat of violence and death remains all too real for many, especially amongst marginalized populations. And around the world – even close to home – there are those that would strip women of the rights they have struggled to secure in years past.

Ontarians must work together to create a province where women and girls are respected, safe from harm, and given every opportunity to succeed. And we must create a society where victims of violence feel safe, and believed, when they come forward, rather than facing further victimization.

Ontario’s New Democrats are committed to bringing about an end to violence against women, and to ensuring that the victims of violence are supported.

Let’s work together to build an Ontario for everyone – where women and girls are respected, safe, and supported.


Metrolinx accountability needs to start at the top after auditor finds systemic failures

After the Auditor General found that Metrolinx continues to pay out contractors for faulty work, the Ontario NDP’s urban transit critic, Cheri DiNovo, demanded the Wynne government show some accountability.

“Metrolinx keeps giving contractors  second, third and fourth chances for faulty work,” DiNovo said.  “In one case, a contractor failed to show up for work for six months, and not only got a second chance, it got 22 more chances. 

Two months ago, Metrolinx Chair Rob Prichard was reappointed for another term as the Chair of the Metrolinx Board of Directors.

“Did the Minister know what was in this Metrolinx audit when he allowed Mr. Prichard another chance as Chair?”

The Minister of Transportation has promised there will be increased accountability at Metrolinx following the Auditor General’s report.

“Yet no one has been held accountable for Presto cost over-runs, the disastrous roll-out of the Union Pearson Express, upside-down bridge trusses, and years of transit planning chaos,” DiNovo said.

 “The Minister has decided that Liberal insiders like Rob Prichard are doing a fine job at providing oversight at Metrolinx.  Public support for transit investment won’t survive more Metrolinx audits like this last one. Public trust depends on accountability, and accountability needs to start at the top.”

“Who does the Minister hold accountable for these failures at Metrolinx that happened on his watch?”  DiNovo asked.

Auditor General agrees with NDP – Hospital overcrowding is hurting health care in Ontario

Hospital overcrowding is the result of Liberal cuts to Ontario’s hospitals, said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, after the Auditor General confirmed that far too many of Ontario’s hospitals are overcrowded. New Democrats first revealed widespread overcrowding in May, based on documents obtained through Freedom of Information requests.

“For months we have been raising concerns about overcrowded hospitals, and for months the government refused to admit there was a problem that needed solving,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath this morning during question period. “Last week the auditor confirmed that 60 per cent of the hospitals in Ontario are overcrowded, and overcrowded hospitals mean more infections and longer wait times.” 

The Auditor General’s 2016 Annual Report confirmed that occupancy rates over 85 per cent result in longer waits for patients and increased risks of infections. Kingston General Hospital has had occupancy rates over 90 per cent for ten straight quarters, from 2013 through to 2015. Across the province, nearly 60 per cent of medicine wards at large community hospitals are reporting occupancy rates over the safe standard of 85 per cent.

According to the Auditor General, “there is much research to show that occupancy rates higher than 85 per cent not only result in longer wait times for hospital beds in acute-care wards, but also increase the risk of transmitting infectious disease” (p. 458). 

At hospitals the Auditor General’s staff visited, investigators “saw patients placed on uncomfortable stretchers or gurneys in hallways and other high-traffic areas that were never designed for patient care” (p. 446).

“This is hallway medicine in Ontario. The government created this problem when they froze hospital funding for four years. And they're making it worse with budgets that still don't keep up with the cost of inflation, never mind population growth,” said Horwath, MPP for Hamilton Centre.

“Will the Premier stop denying that hospitals are overcrowded and stop robbing our healthcare system of the resources it needs?” asked Horwath. “Will the premier stop pretending nothing is wrong, truly put patients first and stop the cuts to hospitals?”

Premier needs to wake up to precarious job reality facing youth in Ontario:

Ontario NDP Finance Critic, Catherine Fife, called on Premier Wynne to raise the minimum wage to $15 as a first step in taking action for young Ontario workers, after a Statistics Canada report found precarious job prospects facing youth who have less full time jobs and earn less today than in the 1980s.

“If young Ontarians can find work, it is often precarious work. It is increasingly difficult for the young people of this province to establish themselves. Life is becoming more unaffordable. Costs are going up and wages are staying flat,” said Fife, MPP for Kitchener-Waterloo.  “When is the government going to wake up to the realities facing young people and make the changes that will allow them to stay and prosper right here in the province of Ontario?”

Today, Statistics Canada released their long-term perspective on the youth labour market. It shows that young Ontarians are less likely to be employed full-time and earn less today than in the 1980s.

“Young Ontarians right across the province are hurting. They are leaving school and not finding work. The youth unemployment rate is higher than 30 per cent in Barrie, 17 per cent in Hamilton, and 16 per cent in London,” said Fife. “To make matters worse, wages are actually declining. According to Stats Canada, young, full-time employees are making less today than they were in the 1980s.  The numbers don’t lie.”

“It’s getting harder to live in Ontario and build a good life for the young people of this province. Will the Premier admit that the status quo isn’t working and take an important step by raising the minimum wage to $15?” asked Fife.

Listen to Ontarians, stop the sell-off of Hydro One

Today during Question Period Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath  said that the Premier must listen to Ontarians who are struggling to pay their rising hydro bills,  and stop the sell-off Hydro One. 

“I don’t think the Premier realizes just how hard life is getting for people across Ontario,” said Horwath.  “Instead of listening, instead of trying to understand what the hydro sell-off means for people, the Premier is burying her head in the sand.” 

Last week Horwath received an email from a senior living in Sault Ste. Marie – though he asked not to be named, he wanted his story shared with the Premier to show her in a tangible way, the effect that the hydro sell-off is having on him.

“This senior uses candles because he’s so worried about the cost of turning on the lights. He told me about the shame he feels feel because he can’t explain to his friends why he can't meet them for coffee, because the hydro bill leaves so little money left over,” said Horwath.  “Nobody in Ontario should have to live with that kind of worry, or feel shame for something that isn’t their fault.”

Horwath also noted that small businesses in her community and across Ontario can’t afford their skyrocketing hydro bills.

“Glow Juicery is a small business in Hamilton that just opened.  Jesse Briscoe, Glow’s owner, is proud of the company she started, but she's worried she might have to close up shop due to the high hydro costs she is incurring,” Horwath noted.

This is what Jesse had to say about the Premier's hydro ‘mistake’: "Okay, you say it's a mistake, what are you actually going to do about it?... Give small businesses a break. Do something. Anything."

“Without action, without showing Ontarians that she is serious when she says she made a mistake on the hydro file and doing something to fix it, the Premier just has no credibility and the people and small businesses of Ontario are left to suffer,” said Horwath.