News

NDP nomination meeting gathers big crowd, enthusiastic support

With NDP Leader Andrea Horwath slated to speak to the crowd, over 100 people came to an uncontested nomination meeting Monday evening in Hamilton. The nomination meeting confirmed the candidacy of Hamilton-Stony Creek NDP MPP Paul Miller.

“More and more, we’re seeing people mobilize in Hamilton, and throughout Ontario, heading towards the 2018 election,” said Horwath following her remarks at the meeting.  “Ontarians need good jobs they can raise a family on, healthcare they can count on, better seniors care, and public schools that give kids a great start. And to get there, they need a premier that gets what they’re dealing with. They need a government that focuses on everyday families instead of just politics.

NDP to Wynne: ‘stop subsidizing the privatization of public utilities’

This morning in question period, NDP Energy Critic Peter Tabuns raised concerns that privatization of Ontario hydro companies is continuing, despite public outcry and government denials.

“Over the weekend, there was a credible report that Hydro One is negotiating to purchase Toronto Hydro. There were denials, but we’ve heard many denials before, just like before the last election when the premier denied that she was selling Hydro One,” said Tabuns. “This sort of deal-making is happening because this government is giving out fat tax breaks to utilities that are sold to the private sector.”

Wynne government’s fare-by-distance costs will hit GTA TTC riders hardest: NDP

During question period Monday, NDP urban transit critic Cheri DiNovo called on Premier Kathleen Wynne to back off a plan to charge all TTC riders a taxi-like per-kilometre rate that would force many GTA riders to pay more.

The Parkdale-High Park MPP demanded Premier Kathleen Wynne instead keep fares simple and affordable for all GTA transit riders, and get on board with the NDP’s plan to restore provincial funding for city transit operations.

Wynne Liberals vote against not-for-profit child care

An NDP bill to support high quality not-for-profit child care was shot down by Wynne Liberal MPPs Thursday.

Bill 98, introduced by Kitchener-Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife, would have ensured dollars earmarked for child care would go directly to quality, affordable, licensed non-profit or public child care. Fife expressed disappointment that 26 Liberal MPPs stood against the bill. 

“By committing provincial funding to not-for-profit and public child care, we could have given more families access to the affordable, quality care they need for their kids,” said Fife. “That Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals would stand and vote against not-for-profit care was a real disappointment to me, and to parents and child care advocates around the province.” 

The bill was supported by child care experts and families, including the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care.

Some of the Toronto area Liberal MPPs who voted against high quality not-for-profit child care included:  Eric Hoskins, St.Paul’s; Glen Murray, Toronto Centre; Han Dong, Trinity-Spadina;  Cristina Martins, Davenport;  Arthur Potts, Beaches-East York;  Shafiq Qaadri, Etobicoke North; Mitzie Hunter, Scarborough-Guildwood; Brad Duguid, Scarborough Centre; and Harinder Malhi, Brampton-Springdale.

Bankers win, families pay with Wynne's $40B borrowing scheme

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says bankers will definitely win with Premier Kathleen Wynne's new $40 billion borrowing scheme -- but Ontario families will pay the price. 

Wynne announced Thursday she’ll pay about $40 billion in interest costs over the next 30 years in order to finance a hydro bill subsidy. The slapdash plan fails to fix the root causes of high hydro bills.

"The cost of electricity has gone up 50 per cent just since Premier Wynne took office, and she has no plan to stop the actual price of power from rising," said Horwath. "She’s spending $40 billion to buy some pre-election political relief for herself and her party – and failing to fix the system. We’re all going to pay for that, one way or another.”

Horwath and the NDP announced an extensive plan Monday that will save all Ontario households up to 30 per cent on their hydro bills. It includes immediate measures like eliminating time-of-use premiums and unfair, higher delivery charges, and repairs the broken hydro system permanently – including a return of Hydro One to public hands.

"Premier Wynne's scheme doesn't address the mess the former Conservative government and Premier Wynne made of our hydro system,” said Horwath. “She's still planning to continue the disastrous sell-off of Hydro one. She’s still planning to charge time-of-use premiums that punish parents for cooking dinner at dinner time and seniors for staying home during the day.

“We need a solution for the broken system – not just a $40 billion band aid for Premier Wynne’s political problems.”

READ OUR FULL PLAN HERE

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath's letter to parent of student at school facing shutdown

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath sent the following letter to Joe De Matteis, parent of a student at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Elementary School, a Vaughan-area elementary school facing closure. 

Feb. 27th, 2017

Joe De Matteis
Our Lady Peace Catholic Elementary School

Dear Joe,

As you know, for families in Maple Ontario, and throughout the Vaughan area, community schools are more than just bricks and mortar. They are parks and playgrounds—often the central hub of the community.

Our Lady Peace Elementary School is a premier example of what schools can offer a neighbourhood and the families that reside there. The school boasts over 96% utilization and a thriving French immersion program. Nearly all students attending the school are able to walk to and from class, and Our Lady Peace is the only Catholic school in the area. Despite the success of this institution and the dedication of parents, students and education workers, Our Lady Peace Elementary School is on the chopping block.

The current accommodation review process incentivizes school closures and places schools like Our Lady Peace at a disadvantage. For instance, emphasizing past and current enrolment figures does not allow boards to adequately plan for growth in their community. Major housing developments planned in Vaughan at Rutherford and Dufferin will increase the need for a school in the future. Closing Our Lady of Peace will create a shortage of Catholic school spaces at a time when the need for spaces may be increasing.

Moreover, in 2015, changes to the pupil accommodation review guidelines limited community input and informed decision making. The minimum timeline for the entire accommodation review process was cut from seven months with four public meetings to just five months with only two public meetings. A new loophole even allows for an optional shortened accommodation review process, with no committee and only one public meeting—this process will only take two months. Reducing the length of time of this important process limits the ability of community members to participate in decisions that will impact their neighbourhood for generations to come.

Accommodation reviews and school closures are occurring at a time when the province should be investing in our schools. Ontario families were enthusiastic when the government announced plans to utilize schools as community hubs but so far, this enthusiasm has become disappointment. The province should be enabling and incentivizing boards to easily utilize schools as community hubs rather than forcing their closure. The government must make it easier for the York Catholic District School Board to work collaboratively with the parents and education workers at Our Lady Peace Catholic Elementary School to allow for creative and innovative solutions to keep this school open.

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to this school and the community it serves.

Yours truly,

Andrea Horwath.

NDP pushes for action on Grassy Narrows

NDP Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Critic Michael Mantha called on the government to release a detailed plan for addressing the long-standing mercury contamination of the English-Wabigoon River.

This morning during question period, Mantha questioned the sincerity of the government’s promise to “[identify] all contaminated sites and [clean] up the English-Wabigoon River of the mercury that has been poisoning the Grassy and Wabaseemoong First Nations for two generations.” 

Mantha, MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin, urged the government to release details of an earlier meeting with Grassy Narrows First Nation Chief Simon Fobister, asking: “Will the Premier tell this Legislature and the people of this province exactly what promises the Premier made to Chief Fobister in a meeting held with him on February 10?”

Experts on mercury contamination are concerned that the government is ignoring possible contamination sources.

“A report released yesterday, funded by this government, says there is ‘strong evidence’ of an ongoing source of mercury contamination at the old mill site down the river of Grassy Narrows, yet this government has said repeatedly that the mill site is not an ongoing source of mercury,” said Mantha. “Why has this government never bothered to test the river next to the Dryden mill?”

MPP Natyshak calls on premier to keep promise to reduce unfair rural hydro rates

During question period this morning, Essex NDP MPP Taras Natyshak, demanded that Premier Kathleen Wynne honour her promise to reduce rural hydro bills after sharing the story of an Essex woman whose hydro bill has skyrocketed since last year. 

“Mrs. Linda Eaton shared her hydro bills with me.  Last year, her January bill was $372.  The premier promised that bills would go down for rural ratepayers like Mrs. Eaton. But that is not what happened. This year, her January bill was over $500. And her hydro delivery charges have doubled in just two years,” Natyshak said. 

“Will the premier provide real relief for ratepayers like Mrs. Eaton, and reduce her rural delivery rates to what urban households pay, as the NDP has proposed?” 

Natyshak said families in rural Ontario continue to face ever-increasing bills simply because they live in a rural area. The delivery rate problem is only made worse by Wynne’s decision to charge time-of-use premiums.

“Mr. and Mrs. Eaton are seniors living on fixed incomes. They don’t have access to natural gas. They have no choice but to heat with hydro.  And they have done what the premier has told them in order to lower their bills,” Natyshak said. 

“They do their laundry and dishes during off-peak hours. They keep their living room temperature at 18 degrees. They even keep their kitchen at 13 degrees.  But their hydro bills keep going up, even though the premier promised they would go down. 

“Will the premier get rid of unfair rural delivery rates, and reduce the bills for families like the Eatons?”

On Monday, Ontario’s New Democrats released a plan for Ontarians to own more and pay less for electricity in the province. The plan would see Ontarians’ hydro bills cut by up to 30 per cent through a comprehensive plan to fix the system. The NDP will bring Hydro One back into public ownership, end mandatory time-of-use pricing and end premium delivery charges. The plan will start lowering bills immediately, and will result in billions of dollars being returned to Ontario instead of ending up in the hands of private and foreign corporations.

NDP statement on Grassy Narrows mercury contamination

NDP Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Critic Michael Mantha and NDP Environment and Climate Change Critic Peter Tabuns issued the following statement in response to new information suggesting that mercury is continuing to find its way into the English-Wabigoon River:

Horwath lays out plan for Ontarians to pay less for, and own more of hydro

Today Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath laid out her plan to cut hydro bills for everyone across the province by up to 30 per cent and to return Hydro One back to public ownership.

“It’s time for the people of Ontario to pay less for – and own more of – our hydro,” said Horwath. “Affordable, reliable public power will be the backbone of the electricity system under an NDP government.”

Lower hydro bills start with more public control of the electricity system in Ontario.  Along with returning Hydro One to public hands, the NDP plan lays out an end to the practice of paying for electricity Ontario doesn’t need, and an immediate review and renegotiation of bad private power contracts signed by Liberal and Conservative governments. Additional commitments built into the package include equalizing rural and urban delivery charges, capping private profit margins and ending Time of Use billing. 

“Electricity isn’t a luxury. It shouldn’t be priced like one,” said Horwath. “Instead of subsidizing hydro bills by taking money from hospitals and schools, I’ll lower the cost of power. Families will see immediate relief, and permanent change on their hydro bills. It’s time for a government that gets what families are dealing with – and takes action to make life easier in Ontario.”

With profits flowing to private and foreign corporations, Horwath said making hydro public again is the best way to get hydro bills under control and deliver long-term financial returns to the province. No rate increase would be required to finance the return of Hydro One to public ownership.  The NDP’s ambitious but achievable plan is one piece of a much-needed plan to make life more affordable for all Ontarians; and give the next generation the opportunity to build a great life.

Read the full plan HERE (pdf).

Our plan: Pay Less. Own More. 

Statement by NDP Leader Andrea Horwath on anti-Semitic graffiti

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, MPP for Hamilton Centre, issued the following statement on the recent discovery of anti-Semitic graffiti on a Hamilton-area trail: 

“I was saddened and disgusted to learn of the discovery of more anti-Semitic graffiti in Hamilton. For this discovery to be made only hours before I rose to speak at Queen’s Park to condemn prejudice and hatred is a stark and urgent reminder of how much work we have to do to stop faith-based discrimination and racism of all kinds, in Ontario and around the world. 

“As a New Democrat, a Hamiltonian, and someone who believes profoundly in the value of diversity, I reject and condemn this hatred. New Democrats stand with the Jewish community against all forms of anti-Semitism and hate, and we reject the politics of division in all its ugly forms.

“Anti-Semitism has no place in Ontario and no place in Hamilton. I know the vast majority of Hamiltonians join me in rejecting anti-Semitism, prejudice, and hate of any kind.”

Liberals play politics with winter power disconnections

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals refused Tuesday to support NDP Leader Andrea Horwath’s motion to sever Bill 27 and end winter hydro disconnections – only to introduce the exact same motion on Wednesday.

“It’s painfully obvious that the Liberals are doing what they think is best for the Liberal party – not the people of Ontario,” said Horwath, who added that the NDP will support the motion.

“Last year, 60,000 households had their heat and power shut down because they were struggling to keep up with sky-high hydro bills. Kathleen Wynne didn’t stop dangerous winter disconnections then. This year, including yesterday, she’s refused to support the NDP’s calls for winter disconnections to end.” 

“Up to and including last night, we continue to hear about more disconnections. I wonder if the premier can tell us how many households had their power cut off while she was dragging her feet on this issue?” 

The motion was tabled by Horwath Tuesday morning, the Legislative Assembly’s first day back in session, and would have immediately severed and brought to a vote a winter disconnections prohibition clause in Bill 27. After voting down that motion Tuesday, Wynne’s Liberals’ Wednesday motion was identical. 

Horwath said that people are suffering from the high cost of privatized hydro, and there’s no room for political games in their lives.

“This isn’t a time for politics,” she said. “It’s time for a concrete plan to give families more security by delivering relief from massive hydro bills.”

NDP calls on Premier Wynne to restore direct provincial funding for TTC

On the first day of the new legislative session, Peter Tabuns, MPP for Toronto-Danforth, called on the Wynne government to improve transit service by restoring provincial funding for 50 per cent of transit operations.

“Under the province’s traditional 50-50 funding formula, the TTC and Wheel-Trans would have received about $345 million in direct provincial funding, based on the budget passed last week,” Tabuns said.  “With this level of provincial funding, the TTC would be able to improve service, boost ridership and give Torontonians more reason to leave the car at home.

Horwath begins new legislative session with focus on Hydro disconnections, Sault families

Today during the first Question Period of the new legislative session at Queen’s Park, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath stood up for a Sault family struggling to keep up with their hydro bills, even facing disconnection notices. 

“Charlene lives in the Sault and she has three kids. Her husband works full time, she has two jobs; one part time, and one full time,” said Horwath during Question Period.  “They try to do the laundry and cooking during off-peak hours, but between their work schedules and three kids, it’s hard. Can the Premier tell Charlene and people like her all across Ontario what she thinks they should do to get by?”

Liberals vote against ending winter disconnections

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals had a chance Tuesday to join with the NDP and end the practice of disconnecting hydro in the winter – but voted against it.

“Last year 60,000 households had their hydro cut off,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who tabled the motion on Tuesday morning, the Legislative Assembly’s first day back in session. “Now, the Liberals want to play politics. They want to hold their power to stop winter disconnections as a bargaining chip so they can force the legislature to support their 158-page Harper-style omnibus bill.”

 

Open letter from NDP House Leader Gilles Bisson: Immediately stop winter hydro disconnections with standalone legislation

Ontario NDP House Leader Gilles Bisson issued the following open letter to Government House Leader Hon. Yasir Naqvi calling for standalone legislation to immediately stop winter hydro disconnections.

Hon. Yasir Naqvi, MPP

Government House Leader

Minister Naqvi:

RE: Immediate Severing of Bill 27 to Eliminate Winter Hydro Disconnections

As you know, the NDP has expressed our belief that eliminating hydro disconnections during winter months must be a priority, ending the practice of taking away heat and light from Ontario families, and ending the fear and worry for those struggling under a threat of disconnection.

Unfortunately, the only proposal we have received from your government to date is a plan to pass Bill 27, a 158-page omnibus bill that New Democrats and City of Toronto councillors have expressed serious concerns about. Bill 27 would amend 17 schedules affecting different ministries and pieces of legislation, including allowing for the privatization of the public space at Ontario Place through a rewrite of the Ontario Place Corporation Act. It is simply unacceptable to allow the passage of a clause so critical to people’s lives and well-being to totally unrelated matters, and matters that deserve the scrutiny and full due diligence of Ontario’s MPPs.

As all parties have expressed some degree of support for changes that give the minister the power to end winter hydro disconnections, New Democrats now propose that Schedule 10 of Bill 27 be severed from your omnibus bill and introduced as a separate bill immediately on return of the house on Tuesday, February 21. Please find the text of a draft UC motion attached for your review.

Under our proposal, a unanimous consent motion would be moved on Tuesday February 21, and the standalone bill could be tabled that very afternoon. The necessary language already exists as part of Bill 27 – the hydro section must simply be reformatted to allow its introduction as a standalone piece of legislation.

Because of the urgent nature of this situation for those families under threat of disconnection, our proposal also allows for the bill to pass all three stages and become law on the same day that it is introduced, ending winter disconnections far sooner than the omnibus Bill 27 could possibly achieve.

There are instances where severing a clause from its bill has occurred in both the NDP and PC administrations prior to 2003. The timeline to introduce the new bill is also not unprecedented – in fact, in 2013 the motion that began the process to establish the Financial Accountability Office also provided instructions and a deadline date for the Minister of Finance to table the enabling legislation. 

By separating the hydro disconnection issue, we can move quickly to help those in need, without compromising the thoughtful consideration and meaningful debate that the rest of Bill 27 demands. I look forward to discussing this with you further and hope we can put a solution in place in time for the start of the House on February 21.

Respectfully,

GILLES BISSON, MPP
Timmins – James Bay
NDP House Leader
Att.
cc: Jim Wilson, MPP, Official Opposition House Leader

 

DRAFT MOTION

SEVERING OF SECTION 10 FROM BILL 27, BURDEN REDUCTION ACT, 2016

That notwithstanding any Standing Order or Special Order of the House, Schedule 10 of Bill 27, An Act to reduce the regulatory burden on business, to enact various new Acts and to make other amendments and repeals, be removed from the Bill; and

That the passage of this motion shall constitute an order to the Minister of Government and Consumer Services to introduce, no later than the sessional day following passage of this motion, a new bill consisting only of the verbatim contents of Schedule 10; and That the Order for Second Reading of the Bill shall be called as the first order of business during Orders of the Day on the same day that the bill is introduced, and that the question on the motion for Second

Reading of the Bill shall be put immediately without debate or amendment, and at such time the bill shall be ordered for Third Reading; and That the Order for Third Reading the bill shall then immediately be called, and the question on the motion for Third Reading of the bill shall be put immediately without debate or amendment; and

That no deferral of the Second or Third Reading votes pursuant to Standing Order 28(h) shall be permitted; and

That in the case of any division relating to any proceedings on the bill the division bell shall be limited to five (5) minutes.

 

Horwath says people’s voices, action to drive new session

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says she’ll be using the new legislative session to bring the voices of Ontario people to Queen’s Park, and propose solutions to the frustrating situation the Liberal government has put them in.

“Ontario is at a tipping point,” said Horwath. “The cost of living – especially the cost of hydro – is painful. Things we all count on, like hospitals and schools, are being cut and squeezed. Premier Wynne let Ontario down, and it feels like she simply doesn’t get what families are going through.” 

Horwath said acknowledging the reality for everyday Ontarians has to be followed by action. 

“We see the Liberal government tinker around the edges where they think it might help Premier Wynne and her party. And we see Mr. Brown’s Conservatives oppose without proposing solutions. That’s not going to cut it for families who are facing growing costs, growing debt and stagnant or dropping incomes.” 

Horwath noted that taking action on hydro disconnections in the winter is at the top of her priority list. 

“The solution Ontario families need is lower hydro prices,” she said. “But in the meantime, I won’t let the Liberals and Conservatives play political games with people’s lives. I’ll be moving to prevent any more families from having the heat shut off in the middle of winter immediately by severing that clause from the omnibus Bill 27, and pushing to get that through the house before any more families suffer.”

MPPs return to regular sitting hours at Queen’s Park starting Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Liberals must stop playing political games with people’s lives, end winter hydro disconnections:

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath issued the following statement.  

"Today’s letter by Minister Thibeault requesting a voluntary end to winter disconnections by LDCs changes nothing. It falls far short of the action Ontarians expect and deserve. Both the premier and the minister need to stop playing political games with people’s lives. 

When the legislature resumes sitting on Tuesday, I’ll be pushing to immediately remove the hydro disconnections portion of Bill 27, a 158-page Harper-style omnibus bill, so that all parties can quickly pass it as a standalone piece of legislation. This government should be offering real solutions instead of allowing vulnerable families to freeze in the dark of an Ontario winter.

Of course, ending disconnections is necessary, but people also need urgent action to lower hydro prices."