News

Horwath launches endstudentdebt.ca website to highlight the student debt crisis in Ontario

Today at Queen’s Park Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath launched a new website aimed at empowering young people to tell their stories of how student debt is affecting their lives.

Horwath was joined by young people from across Ontario for the launch where she reiterated the NDP’s promise to immediately remove the interest from Ontario student loans if the party forms government in 2018.

“This is a first step in addressing the crisis of student debt in Ontario and it is an important one,” said Horwath. “Seemingly insurmountable student debt delays important life milestones for young people such as buying a car, owning a home, starting a family or starting a business.  This makes student debt not only a burden for those who carry it, but on the provincial economy as a whole.”

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario strongly supports the NDP’s commitment to remove interest from Ontario student loans and is enthusiastic about the chance for young people to tell their stories.

“Students from across Ontario welcome the NDP’s decision to remove interest on provincial student loans. This is one of the demands of our Fight the Fees campaign that saw thousands of students across the province demand immediate action to address the student debt crisis,” said Rajean Hoilett, Chairperson of the CFS-Ontario. “We hope that this is the first step in realizing students vision for a high-quality system of college and university that is free of financial barriers and accessible to all.”

Ahmad Moussaoui, a 26 year-old resident of Windsor was one of the young people who joined Horwath in Toronto.  Moussaoui is the creator of an online petition calling for an end to student debt that has already received the support of 60,000 people.  He is excited about the chance to join with the NDP and raise the level of urgency of tackling student debt in Ontario.

“If I didn’t have my student debt, I could afford to live on my own and invest in growing my business, and maybe, eventually, I could buy a house,” said Moussaoui.  “Taking the interest off my student loan would definitely be an important first step in helping with my loan.  Thanks to Andrea and the NDP for helping young people raise awareness of this important issue through the new website.”

www.endstudentdebt.ca is live today and will help the NDP fight for an end to student debt in Ontario by collecting stories from young people about how it is affecting them.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath's speech to Provincial Council — November 5, 2016

Bonjour mes amis!

Good morning New Democrats! It’s so good to see you all!

Thank-you for being here.

Je vous remercie de votre présence aujourd’hui.

There is no one more devoted to our values or more committed to our vision of social democracy than the people who are here, bright and early, on a Saturday morning!

The work we do at Provincial Council makes it possible for all of us – and our members and supporters – to do the most important things: like knocking on doors, organizing campaigns, and electing strong New Democrats!

And I have to say, right now, our members and activists in west Niagara and Ottawa are hard at work.

We have two by-election campaigns underway. Two by-election campaigns that come just as the Premier’s former Deputy Chief of Staff is facing two charges of alleged bribery for the Sudbury by-election scandal. For those of you who haven’t been following you will be shocked to learn that the OPP now believe Mr. Glenn Thibeault was offered something in exchange for running for the Liberals.

The vote in these two upcoming by-elections is less than two weeks away. Everyone working on those campaigns and working hard to win every vote for our great candidates, Mike Thomas and Claude Bisson, deserve a great big round of applause from all of us this morning.

Today, I want to give you an update on the work that our Caucus is doing. And I want to talk about the kind of change that we need to see, in Ontario today.

But let me start with where we’re at. 

NDP Deputy Leader calls for Thibeault’s resignation from Cabinet

Today during Question Period, Deputy Leader of the Ontario NDP Jagmeet Singh called on the Premier to remove her Minster of Energy from cabinet in light of the shocking allegations of bribery involving him. 

“The people of Ontario deserve a government of integrity. They deserve a Premier that puts integrity ahead of protecting her friends, party insiders and cabinet ministers,” said Singh. “Why has the Premier not yet received the resignation of her Minister of Energy from Cabinet?”

The call comes after charges were laid by the OPP Tuesday against the Premier’s top aide Pat Sorbara.  Sorbara is facing two counts of violating the Elections Act. The first for allegedly bribing former Liberal candidate Andrew Olivier not to run in the Sudbury byelection; the second and perhaps more distributing charge is for allegedly bribing the Minister of Energy to run in that same byelection.

“The Premier must understand why Ontarians are so concerned about the Minister continuing to serve in her Cabinet while he is potentially under investigation for bribery,” noted Singh. “Never before in the history of this Province has something like this happened. The Premier needs to show Ontarians that she is taking this seriously, she needs to ask her Minister to step down from Cabinet until this mess is sorted out.”

During the last provincial election, the Premier promised Ontarians that she was different.  She promised people that her Liberal party would not be riddled with scandal after scandal like her predecessor. 

Yet again the people of Ontario are disappointed.

The NDP is calling on the Premier to stop putting the interests of her party ahead of the needs of Ontarians and ask her Minister of Energy to step down until the very serious allegations against him are settled.

NDP to Elections Ontario: investigate Glenn Thibeault’s role in the Sudbury by-election scandal

November 2, 2016

Mr. Greg Essensa, Chief Electoral Officer
Elections Ontario

Dear Mr. Essensa: 

I am writing to request that your Office launch an investigation into the actions of Glenn Thibeault regarding the Sudbury by-election scandal.

Yesterday, the Ontario Provincial Police charged Ms. Pat Sorbara, the Premier’s former Deputy Chief of Staff, and Mr. Gerry Lougheed, a key Liberal fundraiser and powerbroker, with alleged bribery under the Election Act.

In sworn information filed in relation to these charges, we learned of a new development in this troubling case. One of the charges against Ms. Sorbara relates, specifically, to an alleged bribe that she offered to Mr. Glenn Thibeault, who is now the MPP for Sudbury and Minister of Energy.

According to the information filed by the OPP, it is alleged that, between November 19, 2014 and February 6, 2015, Ms. Sorbara did "directly or indirectly give, procure or promise or agree to procure an office of employment to induce a person, to wit, Glenn Thibeault, to become a candidate contrary to section 96.1(e) of the Election Act." 

As you are aware, the Election Act not only prohibits an individual from offering an alleged bribe; it also prohibits an individual from accepting an alleged bribe.

Section 96.1(d) states that no person shall, directly or indirectly, “apply for, accept or agree to accept any valuable consideration or office or employment in connection with the exercise or non-exercise of an elector’s vote.”

In light of these new revelations concerning the offer that Ms. Sorbara allegedly made to Mr. Thibeault, I am requesting that your Office open an investigation into Mr. Thibeault’s actions. The people of Ontario need to know whether Mr. Thibeault was offered and accepted an office, employment, or any other consideration in exchange for his candidacy for the Liberal Party.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Jagmeet Singh
MPP, Bramalea-Gore-Malton
Ontario NDP Deputy Leader

 

Cc:

Vince Hawkes, Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police
Attorney-General of Ontario, the Hon. Yasir Naqvi

 

NDP calls on Premier to stop any plans to privatize Ontario Place

Ontario NDP GTA Affairs critic, Cheri DiNovo, called on Premier Wynne to stop any plans to privatize Ontario Place as the Wynne government prepares an omnibus bill that would enable the sale of Ontario Place lands.   

DiNovo was joined at a Queen's Park press conference by Toronto City Councillor, Mike Layton, and Urban Planner, Ken Greenberg.

“We fought and thought we'd won with the No Casino movement to keep Ontario Place public. Now it seems all the activism may have been in vain,” Di Novo said.

“Is this just a Halloween trick to secretly make an administrative amendment to allow the sale of Ontario parkland and heritage? If so, this an egregious mistake,” said Councillor Layton. 

Bill 27, the Burden Reduction Act, an omnibus bill that is over 150 pages long, quietly rewrites the Ontario Place Corporation Act ‎to enable condo development and other forms of privatization. The bill allows Ontario Place to “dispose of land, buildings and structures, or any interest in land, buildings and structures, by sale, lease or otherwise." The bill also allows Ontario Place to be operated for “commercial” purposes.

Greenberg said Premier Wynne must keep her word to keep Ontario Place lands public.

“We are at a critical juncture in determining the future of Ontario Place. Ontario Place is an irreplaceable public asset on Lake Ontario, in the heart of a growing urban region that demands public space and access to Lake Ontario,” Greenberg said.

“It is absolutely essential that the Premier stand by her commitment and not permit any condo or other residential development at Ontario Place. The government should pursue a future for Ontario Place that embraces culture, recreation and entertainment, protects and re-purposes the Cinesphere and pods, and creates a revitalized waterfront canal district with stores and restaurants, bike and walking trails, playing fields and parks.”

Assure the Safety of Long-Term Care Facilities for Concerned Ontarians

Today during Question Period, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called on the Liberal government to review oversight measures for long-term care homes in the province, and to reassure family members that their loved ones are safe following shocking allegations of murder at Woodstock and London facilities. 

“While this is perhaps the most graphic, serious and tragic example of abuse and mistreatment in the long-term care system, this heartbreaking incident is not the first,” said Horwath. “Ontarians need to know exactly what is being done by the Premier to ensure that something this horrific and heart-breaking never happens again.”

Horwath said that Ontarians are seeking clarity about provincial oversight procedures. While being mindful not to impede or compromise the ongoing police investigation, Horwath urged the Premier and the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to conduct an immediate review. Although Kathleen Wynne declined to respond in detail, citing an ongoing police investigation, the NDP Leader was encouraged by the Premier’s openness to undertaking  “an independent review or an inquiry” into the long-term care system “at some point” in the future. 

New Democrats echoed concerns from Ontarians with family members in long-term care facilities who want to know how it is possible that alleged murders inside long-term care homes in Ontario can go undetected for seven years.

“There are 78,000 Ontarians in long-term care right now, and that means 78,000 families are looking to the Premier for reassurance about their loved ones,” said Horwath. “When will the Premier be taking action to ensure that Ontario has the most effective—the most effective possible—oversight and monitoring of our long-term care facilities?”

 

Wynne Liberals’ failed launch of online literacy test will cost taxpayers

During Question Period today, NDP education critic and Windsor West MPP, Lisa Gretzky, demanded answers from Premier Wynne on what her government’s failed launch of the online literacy test will cost taxpayers. 

“Last week’s failed launch of the online grade 10 literacy test cost nearly 200 000 students an entire school day, and months of hard work and preparation,” said Gretzky. “While experts say that an online attack came as no surprise, this Liberal government was caught blindsided with their rushed rollout of online testing.”

Last Thursday, the province launched an online version of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT), but a cyber-attack prevented thousands of students from completing the test. Of the nearly 16,000 students that were able to complete the test, they are still unsure whether or not their results will be accepted.

“Now it’s back to the drawing board for a Liberal government that continues to let Ontario students down,” said Gretzky. “While the loss of confidence in our education system is immeasurable, how much will the latest IT blunder cost Ontario taxpayers?”  

NDP demands Premier take action to protect seniors in Ontario nursing homes

During Question Period today, NDP Health and Long-Term Care critic, France Gélinas, demanded that Premier Wynne take action to stop tragedies and systemic problems in Ontario’s long-term care homes, as an Ontario family takes private, for-profit nursing homes to court after the death of their father, Arthur Jones. 

“In Ontario, we should be able to provide quality care to seniors living in long-term care homes.  But that’s not happening today,” Gélinas said.

“Arthur Jones moved to a private, for-profit long-term care home. Soon after he suffered from malnutrition and dehydration, he fell repeatedly, and he developed a huge bedsore. Mr. Jones spent his final week, in excruciating pain, in hospital.”

“How can this happen to any long-term care resident under this government’s watch?” Gélinas asked. 

Gélinas called for big changes in long-term care because Arthur Jones is not alone. His family is part of a lawsuit with, so far, 82 separate allegations against a private, for-profit long-term care chain.

“This Liberal government has had plenty of opportunity to act. Families have demanded change for years. The Coroner, after investigating numerous homicides, has called for more staff to provide bedside care. And frontline workers know that residents need a guaranteed minimum standard of care,” Gélinas said. 

“What will it take for this government to finally step up and prevent anyone else from suffering the indignity and pain that Arthur Jones suffered in a private, for-profit long-term care home?” 

New Democrats nominate candidate in Niagara-West Glanbrook

Ontario's New Democrats have nominated retired police officer and former President of the Hamilton Police Association Mike Thomas to carry the party’s banner during the November 17th byelection in the riding of Niagara-West Glanbrook.

“I am thrilled to have Mr. Thomas representing the NDP in Niagara-West Glanbrook.  This election is a chance for people in this riding to have a voice in the future of their community and I know that Mike will work hard to show people that the NDP is different, we have a real plan for the future,” remarked Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath.

Over the past few months the NDP has begun to articulate it’s priorities for the campaign and future of the province.  The party has been steadfastly against the further sell-off of Hydro One and in favour of the permanent removal of the provincial portion of the HST from people’s bills.  Horwath has called for predictable increases to base hospital funding as a way to stabilize damage done by the Premier’s funding cuts and on Labour Day, she committed her party to policies that would create good jobs in Ontario.

“I think that people in Niagara-West Glanbrook deserve a representative who will fight to stop the sale of hydro one and lower hydro rates, invest in our schools so that our children and grandchildren get the education they need to succeed and make sure that people have access to the healthcare they need, where and when they need it,” Horwath said. “I know that Mike is that person and I am thrilled to have him on board.”

In her remarks at the meeting, Horwath spoke about both Premier Kathleen Wynne and Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown.  She noted in particular, the Liberal’s wrong-headed sell-off of Hydro One and the Conservative party’s long history of privatizing public utilities like hydro and cutting spending to important sectors like education and healthcare.

“Patrick Brown isn’t the answer for the people of Niagara-West Glanbrook.  This riding has been represented by the Conservative party for decades and people here are ready for a change,” said Horwath. “Both Mr. Brown and Ms. Wynne represent a government that will help people at the top get further ahead while the middle class and everyone else pays the price.  Mike and the NDP want to make sure that the people of Niagara-West Glanbrook are represented by a party that champions healthcare you can count on, lower hydro bills and a good education system for the next generation.  Government should be about helping people and that’s what New Democrats will be talking about over the next four weeks.

Mantha demands Premier investigate exorbitant property tax assessments on northern homes

During Question Period today, Michael Mantha, MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin, called on Premier Wynne to step in to help northern families whose property tax assessments have been disproportionately increased by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC).

“People in the North use more hydro because they lack access to natural gas. They also pay the highest hydro rates.  On top of this, now some northern families are getting hit with huge property tax assessments, with MPAC claiming that homes in places like Walkers Lake have somehow doubled or tripled in value in just the past four years,” Mantha said.  “I heard from one senior on a fixed income, whose property assessment has increased from under $80,000 to over $180,000. It doesn't make sense and she can't afford it.”

Statement from Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath on International Day to Eradicate Poverty

Each year, people around the world mark October 17 as the International Day to Eradicate Poverty.

In Ontario, this is a day to recommit ourselves to the fight for economic justice as a fundamental human right.

As New Democrats, we refuse to accept that poverty and inequality are inevitable – the challenge of eradicating poverty and injustice is at the core of what drives us each and every day.

This is why we fight for an economy that works for everyone. 

New Democrats believe we need to make it easier to join a union, to raise the minimum wage to $15 dollar/hour, to build more affordable housing, to ensure social assistance protects vulnerable people.

New Democrats believe in fairness.  We believe that anyone who works at a temporary job agency should receive the same pay and benefits as the coworker sitting next to them.  We know that a good job is the starting point that people need in order to build a good life for themselves.  And when people cannot work they need to know that their government is there for them providing the help and support they need to live in dignity.

We will continue to fight for strong public services like childcare, healthcare, education and public electricity that help make life a little bit easier for the people of this province.

Everyone who lives in Ontario knows what a wonderful place it can be to live and raise a family.  The NDP is committed to making sure that the future of our children and grandchildren is one that includes a province where no one is left behind.

Liberal plan to sell off patient health records not in the best interests of Ontarians

Statement by Ontario NDP Health Critic France Gélinas

Ontario NDP Health Critic France Gélinas issued the following statement on the Liberal plan to sell off patient health records to the private sector.

“The Liberals are asking Ed Clark, their privatization czar, to help the government ‘maximize the value’ of Ontario’s assets in its digital health system. I have heard those words before; Premier Wynne uses those words when she means privatization. It looks like the Liberals are trying to find a PR-friendly way of saying they want to privatize more of our healthcare system. Ontarians expect their healthcare system to look out for patients, not hand confidential health records to private, for-profit companies. Ontarians expect health care cuts and privatization from Conservatives, but they expected more from the Premier. Nobody voted to have our private, personal, confidential health records sold off to the private sector.”

 

Statement by Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath on World Day for Decent Work

On behalf of Ontario’s New Democrats, I’d like to wish all Ontarians a happy World Day for Decent Work.

As New Democrats, we believe in the principle that anyone who works full time should never live in poverty. Our ideas about decent work flow from that basic belief. 

We want to raise the minimum wage in Ontario to $15/hour.  We think that people who work for temp agencies should be paid the same and get the same benefits as the person sitting beside them. We believe that internships should be paid so that no one is excluded from getting work experience because they can’t afford it. We believe in unions. 

If we form government in 2018, New Democrats have committed ourselves to taking on the unstable and unfair nature of the work that too many people in this province are forced into. Everyone in Ontario knows what a great place it can be to live and raise a family. New Democrats want to make sure that the opportunities that existed for the last generation, exist for the next one too.

Horwath pushes the government to protect Ontario’s water supply

Today Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath pushed the Liberal government to do more to protect Ontario’s long-term water sources.

“We need an Ontario Water Strategy to ensure that there is a sustainable supply of clean water for people today, and for generations to come,” said Horwath during Question Period.  “The Premier seems to think the way to protect Ontario’s water is simply to charge water bottling companies more to take it. That’s not good enough, that simply means that our water goes to the highest bidder, instead of ensuring that it's there for the people of Ontario for drinking, growing food, and sanitation needs in the future.”

NDP leads the way in declaring Islamic Heritage Month this October, in Ontario

Today Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and MPP Teresa Armstrong were joined by Farheen Khan from the International Development and Relief Organization and Dr. Al-Nadvi  from the Canadian Council of Imams in celebrating the establishment of Islamic Heritage Month in Ontario. 

“Over the past few weeks, we have been pushing for Islamic Heritage Month to be officially recognized in Ontario,” said Horwath during a press conference Thursday morning at Queen’s Park.  “Establishing October as Islamic Heritage Month in Ontario is an important opportunity to celebrate Islamic culture and to reaffirm that our province’s diversity is something to celebrate. The NDP is proud to stand with the Muslim community in making this happen.” 

NDP MPP Teresa Armstrong, who introduced the Bill, was pleased to see it finally become law after some weeks of uncertainty caused by the Liberal government’s lack of support for Unanimous Consent.

“There was really no reason not to do this, and I am thankful for the support of the Official Opposition and now of the government.  I think we all know how important it is to put aside our political differences when something as important as establishing Islamic Heritage Month is on the table,” said Armstrong.

The Province is now in line with the Federal government and many local school boards – including the TDSB- which have already taken this step.

“The Canadian Council of Imams would like to thank the NDP for championing this bill. This is an opportunity to highlight the true values and contributions of the Muslim community in Ontario and encourage a much needed dialogue in our province,” said Dr. Al-Nadvi. “We welcome this important step in building bridges between communities.” 

"As we see an increase of islamophobic incidents both in Ontario and across the country, it's now more important than ever before to acknowledge and to celebrate the contributions of Muslims in Ontario,” said Farheen Khan. “The passing of this bill an opportunity to combat hatred and islamophobia by educating current and future generations of Ontarians, and I applaud the NDP's hard work on passing this bill." 

"I thank Andrea Horwath and MPP Teresa Armstrong for introducing this bill. Conversations about Islam are too often framed around negative events. This can be emotionally challenging for children in schools, and it can skew their perceptions,” said Mr. Illyas Ally, Imam for the Islamic Dawa Centre and Executive Producer of Let the Quran Speak.  “Islamic Heritage Month will give children a vehicle to explore Islam from a new angle, empowering children to develop a healthier, richer understanding of Islamic heritage."

Gélinas calls out Thibeault for false promise of 20 per cent hydro rebate to Sudbury families

During Question Period today, Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas, demanded the Liberal MPP for Sudbury, and the Minister of Energy, Glenn Thibeault, admit that the great majority of northern families will not be receiving the Wynne government’s promised additional hydro rate rebate.

“For weeks now, people from northern and rural Ontario have been told by this minister that they are going to get a 20 per cent reduction on their hydro bill. The minister stood in this House on September 27, and said, ‘A 20 per cent reduction for families in rural, remote and northern communities, like in my part of the province, will actually be a significant savings for many families.’ The minister lives in the riding of Sudbury, and not one of his constituents will qualify for the 20 per cent savings,” Gélinas said.

Armstrong calls on premier for $15 minimum wage commitment

During Question Period today, Teresa Armstrong, MPP for London-Fanshawe, demanded the premier raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, after a new report showed  thousands of Londoners are living in extreme poverty, and face a “brutal” situation.

“A new report shows that London has deep, entrenched, poverty – a situation the report authors call ‘brutal’. 35,000 Londoners live in extreme poverty. And almost 8 per cent are jobless.  For individuals, that equates to an income of $11,000, and for a lone parent it’s $19,000 per year,” said Armstrong.

In Hamilton and across Ontario, people can’t afford privatization

Today during Question period, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath highlighted the extreme unaffordability of hydro in the province as she told the story of her constituents Ernie Warner and his wife.  Horwath asked the Premier if they should be paying the price for her privatization schemes. 

“Ernie got in touch with my office because his hydro bill has increased by 20 per cent over the last few months. His wife requires home dialysis ‎and has no choice but to run it during peak hours,” said Horwath during Question Period.