NDP says Wynne’s sign off on purchase of coal plants frustrating, hypocritical

With Hydro One's deal to buy and merge with American energy producer Avista, Ontario families are paying billions to once again own coal-fired power generation – an environmentally devastating business Ontarians have already paid to get out of.

“Kathleen Wynne is spending billions so that Ontario can once again own a dirty coal plant – that’s incredibly frustrating,” said Peter Tabuns, the NDP’s Energy, Environment and Climate Change critic. “By selling off Hydro One, she ensured that Ontario would lose control, and this merger shows just how little control the government has over a privatized Hydro One.

NDP will fight to improve Ontario labour laws

After two weeks of public hearings on Ontario’s new proposed labour legislation, Ontario NDP Labour critic Cindy Forster says the NDP will be tabling a package of amendments to strengthen the Wynne government’s weak labour bill – a bill Forster says misses the mark.

“We’ve spent the last two weeks hearing from workers, unions, community members and business owners on the government’s proposed legislation, and the message we’re hearing on all sides is clear: this bill has more loopholes and exemptions than actual protections,” said Forster. “It does not provide stability to the growing number of workers in unstable jobs.”

Statement from Ontario NDP Energy Critic Peter Tabuns

Ontario NDP Energy Critic Peter Tabuns issued the following statement regarding today's Fraser Institute report on Ontario's skyrocketing hydro costs:

“The report released this morning by the Fraser Institute shows that Ontario families are being gouged, paying the highest prices for hydro in the nation. 

That report underscores the need to bring hydro back into public hands so we can regain control over skyrocketing bills.

With hydro bills going up at four times the rate of inflation, still we see another 20 per cent hike to delivery rates being considered. And top of that, we learned yesterday that Hydro One will buy and merge with American utility giant Avista -- a move to create a huge multinational utility that means even less control and even more financial risk for Ontarians.

The NDP has a plan to lower hydro bills for everyone by at least 30 per cent and bring hydro back into public hands, so families can afford to keep their lights on and make dinner at dinner time once again, and hydro revenues can be invested into the services people need, from health care to transit.”

Hydro One announcement means less control, more cost for Ontarians: NDP

Ontario NDP Energy Critic Peter Tabuns issued the following statement:

“Today’s announcement by Hydro One to acquire and merge with American utility giant Avista should raise red flags for every Ontarian who is struggling to pay their unaffordable hydro bills. This move to create a huge multinational utility means less control over our province’s electricity system and more financial risk for Ontarians.

It also raises real concerns about job security for Ontarians. It’s clear that the new Hydro One’s first responsibility is to its international shareholders, not to the people of Ontario. By ignoring the wishes of Ontarians and selling off Hydro One, Kathleen Wynne put the interests of investors around the globe ahead of the interests of our province and all of us who live here and pay a hydro bill.”  

Wynne turns her back on Ontarians paying even more for auto insurance rates

In response to Ontario auto insurance rates rising for the second quarter in a row, Ontario NDP Transportation critic Wayne Gates issued the following statement.

“After dismissing her promise to Ontarians to reduce auto insurance rates as a ‘stretch goal,’ Premier Kathleen Wynne is now siding with insurance companies.

NDP: Sears liquidation profit should fund pensions – not executive bonuses

Sears Canada has been given the court’s approval to begin liquidation sales Friday at the 59 locations it plans to close – the proceeds of which Ontario’s NDP says should fund Sears’ employees pensions first, not executive bonuses or debts to large firms.

The Ontario NDP has demanded legal changes so that when a company is entering bankruptcy, current and former employees are the first in line to get paid the pensions they’re owed – not last. A year ago, New Democrats were successful in passing a motion at the provincial legislature on that subject, but Premier Wynne refused to act on it.

NDP calls on Wynne to play fair with OLG workers

 Ontario NDP Labour Critic and Welland MPP Cindy Forster is calling on Kathleen Wynne’s government to ensure its Crown corporation, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) end the lockout of the workers at the OLG's Woodbine Racetrack. 

“The Liberal government is out of touch with Ontario workers. Wynne doesn’t seem to understand that workers and their families are counting on these jobs. The OLG, a Crown corporation that ultimately takes its directive from the government, should be a leader when it comes to employment standards -- especially at a time when the government is hearing from the public on various labour and employment initiatives. Instead, the Liberal premier has allowed the Crown corporation to lock out over 400 workers and leave them and their families stranded,” said Forster.

Liberals, Conservatives cap labour bill hearings

An all-party committee of MPPs is touring the province to hear feedback regarding proposed changes to labour laws – but Wednesday night, Wynne's Liberals and the Conservatives refused to support a move from NDP MPP and Labour critic Cindy Forster meant to extend the committee's hearings.

The proposal was aimed at accommodating a young worker who wanted a chance to speak. Conservative and Liberal MPPs joined together to cut the proceedings  and send him, and anyone else that wanted to speak, away. 

NDP demands law change so employees, pensioners get paid first

The Ontario NDP is demanding legal changes so that when a company is entering bankruptcy, current and former employees are the first in line to get paid the pensions they’re owed – not last.

Echoing several other troubling examples in recent years, employees who have lost their jobs as a result of Sears Canada locations closing have found themselves without severance packages, and with their pensions in jeopardy. Meanwhile, current laws allow Sears to pay out its other debts, first. This week, Sears Canada is seeking the court’s permission to suspend some of its pension obligations.

Statement from Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath on the loss of Toronto City Councillor and Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath issued the following statement on the passing of long-time Toronto City Councilor and Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell:

“My heart goes out to Pam’s family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time. 

Pam was a fierce advocate for Toronto, for vulnerable people and for social justice. As a thoughtful and dedicated school board trustee and city councilor, she made it her life’s work to create opportunity for those who are struggling, and spoke powerfully about her belief that tackling poverty in our communities is a responsibility we all share.

She has left a lasting imprint on Toronto, and also on our party. She was an active New Democrat who will be remembered fondly and proudly by the NDP and our members.

On behalf of New Democrats across the province: thank you, Pam, for your steadfast defense of the principals we hold dear. You will be missed.”

Wages flat, more full-time jobs lost in Ontario

Wages are flat in Ontario, and full-time jobs were shed while only part-time work created – another month of movement deeper into a lower-wage, less secure job environment, according to NDP employment critic Catherine Fife.

The new data from Statistics Canada released Friday morning shows another 11,200 full-time jobs were lost in June, while 5,200 part-time jobs were created. That follows April’s loss of 13,800 full-time jobs. 

NDP calls for Wynne government to drop court case against injured workers

Cindy Forster, the Ontario NDP’s labour critic, issued the following statement in response to the Wynne government’s refusal to drop its defense of discriminatory practices that are currently denying injured workers their WSIB claims after they developed mental health issues while on the job.

“Instead of helping workers who were injured on the job, the Wynne government is going to court to fight them.

Premier Kathleen Wynne is defending her government’s record of denying WSIB compensation to workers who developed mental health issues after chronic or long-term trauma on the job. 

New Democrats are calling on Premier Wynne to stop using workers’ money against them in court, drop its court defense and immediately recognize the mental health diagnoses of injured workers.

By waiting until after the next provincial election to change the law that discriminated against workers suffering from mental health concerns, and excluding all claims made prior to 2018, the Wynne government is playing politics on the backs of injured workers and denying them the insurance they need after being injured on the job.

This comes just one month after the WSIB president, Premier Wynne’s former chief of staff, was praised for appearing at Injured Workers Day events at Queen’s Park. If the Wynne government was serious about change, it would make immediate changes to the flawed system.

New Democrats call on Premier Wynne to stop running roughshod over Ontario workers and Ontario's workplace safety and insurance system.”

Hamilton MPPs call for full seniors care inquiry

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was joined by Hamilton MPPs Monique Taylor and Paul Miller at a roundtable with Hamilton residents this morning to discuss the ongoing crisis in seniors long-term care in Ontario. Horwath called for a broad, two-part inquiry into seniors care across the province, stemming from the circumstances of the Wettlaufer murders, and expanding to include an investigation into staffing levels, funding and safety conditions in care homes across the province.


NDP Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Critic Michael Mantha issued the following statement regarding recently-announced funding for the cleanup of mercury contamination in the English-Wabigoon River: 

“After forty years and of living with the toxic legacy of the mercury dump into the English-Wabigoon River, New Democrats truly hope that the Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong Independent Nations soon see the end of their long fight for justice.

New Democrats have long joined community members in their call to Kathleen Wynne and her Liberal government to clean the river of its mercury contamination. We know the announcement that the province will now allocate funding for the cleanup is because of the pressure the communities brought to Queen’s Park.  

There have been years of broken promises to the families of Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, so we continue to have questions about how and when the Liberal government will spend this money on the ground. When will cleanup begin? How will the communities access it? Will this Liberal government commit to paying 100 per cent of the total costs until the river is clean and safe to fish?

We’ll continue to push for answers to these questions and more because, this time, the promises have to lead to action. Generations of people have been let down, and we won’t allow that to continue.”

The care our parents deserve: Horwath calls for full seniors care inquiry

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath announced Wednesday her plans for a complete public inquiry into the state of seniors long-term care in Ontario – not only into the circumstances that led to eight residents in care homes being killed; but an investigation into staffing levels, funding and safety conditions in care homes today.

“Our parents and grandparents deserve care that protects their safety, health and their dignity,” said Horwath. “But more and more, I’m hearing reports of residents left in bed for 18 hours, seniors who don’t always get the basic help they need to bathe and change their clothes regularly, and parents and grandparents who led dignified lives, and now aren’t always getting the help they need to get to the bathroom on time.

“Workers in care homes are doing the best they can – but they’re run off their feet and aren’t getting the support they need. It’s time to get to the bottom of these problems, then do something about it.”

Horwath laid out parameters for a two-phase public inquiry held under the Public Inquiries Act. She said if Kathleen Wynne fails to do the right thing and investigate the broader, systemic problems in long-term care, a New Democrat government would expand the inquiry immediately after the election.

“The last Conservative government made deep cuts to health care and front-line health care staff, and Kathleen Wynne did even more damage with cuts and underfunding,” said Horwath. “Together, they’ve swept problems under the rug and refused to talk about it.

“Ontarians know there is a crisis in long term care.  In safety, quality and availability that calls for a much broader inquiry than the one the government is proposing.  The government should not be afraid of a broader, fuller inquiry. We need an honest picture of the problems in seniors care homes throughout the province so we can take action to give our parents and grandparents the care they deserve.”

Horwath was joined at Queen’s Park Wednesday by families with loved ones in care, who echoed her call for a broad inquiry, and action. Donna Corewyn said that her mom returned to her care home from the hospital with a broken pelvis after a fall – only to be left in an upright recliner at the nurse’s station because the home did not have enough resources or staff to keep her safe in her room. 

Mira Bazzul said that she recently arrived at her mom’s seniors care home in Sudbury only to find that mom had been left in bed for 17 hours – and obviously hadn’t been assisted in getting up and with the morning routine hygiene, was not dressed and was left with a soiled brief, not fed breakfast, uncomfortable and at risk of infection.

"An independent public inquiry with a broad mandate is required to determine what went wrong in the Wettlaufer case and how to improve care for all residents. We see the problems in long-term care as a growing crisis that must be addressed now," said Jane Meadus, lawyer and institutional advocate with the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly (ACE).

"More and more, we're hearing about vulnerable residents not receiving the care they need, overburdened staff and increased complaints about the quality of care in long-term care homes. Residents are uniquely dependent on long-term care homes and their staff for all their needs and we must ensure that the system is providing safe, quality care to all residents. 

"An inquiry into the Wettlaufer murders is necessary - and so is a broader inquiry into the care that residents receive across Ontario,” said Meadus.

The Wynne government put a new Long-Term Care Homes Act into effect in 2010. It doesn’t have any requirement at all for a minimum front-line-staff-to-resident ratio at long-term care homes.

Docs show Liberal, Conservative health care cuts hurt families in Sudbury

Health Sciences North operating above safe capacity, as high as 111 per cent, for 24 months straight

Today, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and NDP Health Critic France Gélinas released internal government statistics that show Health Sciences North has been forced to operate well above safe capacity for 24 consecutive months. 

“Years and years of Conservative and Wynne Liberal cuts to health care have done serious damage. Frontline healthcare staff are being asked to do more with less, and patients are paying the price with longer waits and hallway medicine,” said Horwath.

Documents obtained by the NDP under freedom of information laws show that between January 2015 and December 2016, Health Sciences North was operating at 100 per cent capacity every day, reaching at times as high as 111 per cent. Experts deem 85 per cent capacity to be the maximum safe capacity limit. 

At the hospital’s June 2017 Annual General Meeting, it was revealed that there are now a daily average of 35 patients on stretchers in hallways and lounges due to the overcrowding issue. HSN Board Chair Nicole Everest noted: “Unfortunately, operating in a state of overcapacity has become the new normal, not only for HSN, but for hospitals across Ontario.”

Across the province, nearly 60 per cent of medicine wards at large community hospitals are reporting occupancy rates over the safe standard.

The last Conservative government fired 6,000 nurses, closed 28 hospitals and over 7,000 hospital beds. Wynne’s Liberals have done even more damage, with years of frozen budgets and underfunding, shortchanging hospitals by at least $300 million this year alone.

“The Wynne Liberals and the Conservative party are exactly the same when it comes to health care – they cut and privatize at every opportunity,” said Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt. “The people of Sudbury and the North deserve better – every family does.”

The NDP has committed to providing strong, predictable base funding for hospitals that will keep up with inflation, population growth and meets the unique needs of northern, rural and small community hospitals. Horwath has called for a moratorium on layoffs of nurses and front line care providers.  Recently, she introduced the NDP’s plan to create Canada’s first universal pharmacare program, providing free medication to all Ontarians, regardless of income, age, or health history. Universal pharmacare can reduce demand on emergency services, and improve health outcomes for many patients, significantly reducing pressure on Ontario’s hospitals and care facilities.

Statement from the NDP on a public inquiry into the Elizabeth Wettlaufer killings

Teresa Armstrong, the NDP Seniors Home and Long-Term Care, and Seniors' Affairs critic, issued the following statement regarding the government’s announcement of a limited review of the circumstances that led to the Wettlaufer killings:

“An inquiry into the system that allowed Elizabeth Wettlaufer access to seniors long-term care homes, her victims, and the drugs she used to kill them, is necessary.

But, when it comes to seniors long-term care, the statement from Wynne’s Liberal government today shows that Wynne has her head in the sand when it comes to broader, systemic concerns within seniors long-term care in Ontario. Clearly, Wynne isn’t listening to the families of long-term care residents who have voiced concerns.

Andrea Horwath, the NDP and I have been listening, and will have more to say in response to those concerns shortly.”

Concert fans doubtful about latest Liberal promise: Statement by Wayne Gates, NDP Consumer Services Critic

Wayne Gates, Ontario NDP Consumer Services Critic, and MPP for Niagara Falls, issued the following statement.

“Kathleen Wynne and her Liberal government put their friends first, and fans last,  when they changed the Ticket Speculation Act back in 2015. Since then Ontarians have had to fight a losing battle for concert tickets against ‘scalper bots’ and online re-sellers who jack up the price way above the face value of a ticket.

With this morning’s announcement the Liberals are trying to take credit for fixing a problem they created in the first place. New Democrats will closely review this proposed legislation and make sure that fans don’t get left behind again by this Liberal government. 

I don’t blame Ontarians who’ve missed out on their favourite shows over the last two years for being skeptical about this latest Liberal promise.”