Statement from NDP Leader Andrea Horwath on Nursing Week 2017

To mark the beginning of Nursing Week 2017, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath issued the following statement calling for a moratorium on nursing cuts and any further layoffs of health care workers: 

“Ontario’s nurses are healthcare champions. New Democrats, and all Ontarians, owe a debt of gratitude to nurses for their concern and care, advocacy, and professionalism.

Liberal cuts have pushed health care in Ontario to the breaking point, but Premier Wynne still doesn’t get it. Everyone who has watched a loved one wait months for surgery, or suffer in a hallway without a proper hospital bed, has felt the impact of Premier Wynne’s cuts. More than 1,600 nurses have been laid-off in the past two years, along with hundreds of additional health care workers, hurting patient care and making wait times worse.

Enough is enough. Our hospitals are dangerously overcrowded but the Wynne Liberal budget does nothing to undo the damage. In fact, it will make the hospital crisis even worse. Funding for hospitals falls more than $300 million short of what’s needed just to stop the crisis, never mind fixing the damage.

The need for a moratorium on all nursing cuts and the layoffs of frontline health care workers is long overdue. Premier Wynne’s cuts to caring, dedicated health care workers must stop. Patient care cannot be allowed to deteriorate any further. Fewer nurses and health care workers mean less care for patients, and less care for patients is something that New Democrats will never accept.” 

The province must pay its fair share for social housing: NDP

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath joined Toronto Mayor John Tory on a tour of the Bleecker Street Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) development on Monday. The building is just one of many social housing developments in need of urgent repair, but the new Liberal budget fails to commit badly needed funding for social housing.

Horwath repeated her promise to Tory and the people of Toronto: if the NDP forms government in 2018, the province will pay its fair share for social housing repairs. An NDP government would fund its share of a one-third split between provincial, federal and municipal governments.

“Families, regardless of income, have been hard hit by years of downloading and cuts,” said Horwath. “There is no doubt that those who live in Toronto Community Housing and social housing across the province have been ignored by the Liberal government. The conditions we saw today are heartbreaking, and the damage Kathleen Wynne has done is obvious. 

“A New Democratic government will step up to the plate, and be a partner to cities – including the City of Toronto – and pay its fair share to repair social housing units.”

The NDP Leader said Wynne missed her chance to undo some of the damage her Liberal government has done to social housing across the province. The recent Wynne Liberal budget does little to help any of the 181,000 families on the affordable housing wait-list in Toronto. Not only is there no new money for social housing in the provincial budget, there is no money for urgent repairs.

In 2018, provincial funding for Toronto’s housing programs is expected to be less than half what the city received in 2011. That’s a loss of nearly $180 million a year for Toronto’s social housing, emergency shelters, and homelessness prevention programs.

That has pushed TCHC and social housing programs throughout the province to a tipping point – unable to keep up with the repair backlogs. Even with a growing wait list, Toronto is forced to shutter affordable housing units as a result of the shortfall.

“It’s become clear that if Ontarians want a provincial government that will take social housing seriously they’ll have to wait for a change in government,” said Horwath. “New Democrats will take our responsibility to support safe, affordable homes seriously. We will stop the downloading and cuts. We will be partners in housing. ”

Horwath has also made commitments to Tory and all Ontario municipalities regarding transit and child care programs – important parts of making life more affordable for families.

Horwath demands Wynne withdraw regulation forcing political messages into hydro bills

On Monday, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath demanded Premier Kathleen Wynne withdraw her new proposed law that would force all electricity companies to insert Wynne's political message into hydro bills until the next election. 

The proposed regulation is being pushed through Wynne’s cabinet this month. It includes a specific, self-promoting message Wynne plans to force all electricity vendors and sub-metering companies to insert into hydro bills.

“I think everyone who pays a hydro bill will be frustrated and upset to learn that they’re now paying for misleading Liberal advertising to be delivered right to their doorstep – by law,” said Horwath. 

“The message Kathleen Wynne is forcing onto our bills isn’t even telling people the whole story – not even close. She’s leaving out the part where her hydro borrowing plan will wipe out any short-term savings and cost Ontarians much more. In short order, people will see the effect of this scheme in black and white in the form of higher hydro bills that will keep skyrocketing for 30 years.”

Wynne’s scheme to subsidize hydro bills will borrow $24 billion now, and cost between $45 billion and $93 billion, according to independent Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO). An FAO investigation published last week found that, as a result, the hydro bills of Ontario families will skyrocket yet again after the next election. 

“Kathleen Wynne is so desperate to save her political skin, she doesn’t care about what her high hydro bills are doing to families,” said Horwath. 

“People simply can’t take any more price hikes. That’s why the NDP released a hydro plan that lowers hydro bills by 30 per cent, and puts Hydro One back in public hands. It’s a long-term solution that lowers bills now, and keeps them down.”

Wynne’s proposed new regulation – which would become a part of the law if passed by Wynne’s cabinet – is a 115-word statement that must be included on or in hydro bills until July 1, 2018. The next provincial election date is set for June, 2018. 

13,800 full-time jobs shed over one month

Wages are down and Ontario had 13,800 fewer full-time jobs in April compared to just one month earlier, according to the newest labour force survey data from Statistics Canada.

With about 12,000 less secure, part-time jobs created, the numbers paint a picture of Ontario being driven into a lower-wage economy at the same time as the cost of living is skyrocketing.

Open letter from Kitchener-Waterloo NDP MPP Catherine Fife on a private personal health information breach

Kitchener-Waterloo NDP MPP Catherine Fife issued the following open letter to the Minister of Government and Consumer Services Tracy MacCharles, calling for answers on massive privacy breach.

Horwath calls on Wynne to make ending hallway medicine a priority

On Thursday, Jamie-Lee Ball – a patient turned patient-advocate after a horrific experience in an Ontario hospital – joined NDP Leader Andrea Horwath at Queen’s Park to fight for an end to hallway medicine. Together, they called on Premier Kathleen Wynne to make it a priority to undo the damage she’s done in hospitals.

On March 25, Ball was rushed to Brampton Civic Hospital with internal bleeding, where she was left on a stretcher in a hallway for five days.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath gave the following statement in response to the restoration of program funding to Toronto Public Library

“I’m pleased to hear that after two days of strong advocacy and immense pressure by the City of Toronto and Toronto residents, the Liberals have decided to reverse their planned funding cut to Toronto Public Library.

As we’ve made clear in the legislature over the last two days, the NDP is strongly in support of reversing this Wynne Liberal funding cut. Libraries are community hubs that deliver important programs and services for people – like children’s reading programs, English classes for new Canadians, and the collection, digitization and preservation of historic materials.

Sadly, reversing this funding cut doesn’t fix the damage the Wynne Liberals have done in Toronto. This cut to Toronto Public Library was only the latest evidence of Wynne’s abandonment of GTHA families and their priorities.

While the waiting list for affordable housing grows, social housing units are being boarded up and sold off because the Wynne Liberals won’t bring any funding to the table to repair those homes. And while transit systems throughout Ontario are starving for investment, Wynne continues to refuse to be an equal funding partner.

The NDP is pleased to see one cut being walked back, but I call on Premier Kathleen Wynne to realize that the City of Toronto – and municipalities throughout Ontario – need the downloading to stop and the damage repaired.”

NDP: Wynne Liberals ignore millions of Ontarians needing pharmacare

NDP Finance Critic John Vanthof says the Liberal budget is failing millions of Ontarians who desperately need access to medication. 

“Tracey from Newmarket saw the NDP pharmacare announcement on TV and called us to tell us her story and what pharmacare would mean to her. She spent two years without benefits, first taking care of an ill relative and then working part-time without benefits. She has diabetes and high-cholesterol,” said Vanthof this morning during question period. “Her prescriptions cost $300 per month. Paying for these medications put her into credit card debt that she’s still struggling to pay off.”

Kathleen Wynne allowing speculators to keep driving up home prices

During question period Wednesday, Toronto-Danforth NDP MPP Peter Tabuns, demanded to know why Premier Kathleen Wynne did nothing to control corporate housing speculators in her 2017 budget, and nothing to help families get into their first home.

“The cost of a house is still skyrocketing. The budget doesn't have a single mechanism to help people buy a home,” Tabuns said. 

“Instead, people saw a budget that is trying to score political points by talking about only foreign speculators.  But as long as you have a Canadian passport or a Canadian business number, there is nothing to rein in speculating.

“Nothing to stop consortiums from buying up swaths of homes and driving up prices.

“Why are the Liberals helping speculators, and letting housing prices get even further out of reach for people?” 

Over the last year, the cost of a home in Toronto rose by 31.7 per cent, with the average home priced at $920,791.

“A home half that cost would be out of reach for a lot of people. This budget protects corporations flipping properties, and lets housing get even more out of reach for ordinary people,” Tabuns said.

“Why isn't the government dealing with speculation?”

Horwath shares details of her universal Pharmacare plan in Peterborough

On Wednesday, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath visited Peterborough to discuss her plan for Ontario’s first universal Pharmacare program, stopping at the YMCA to talk with participants of T­­­­­­­­he Lung Association's Fitness for Breath program for people with chronic lung diseases.

“Many people in Peterborough go without the medications they need because they have been driven to the breaking point by costs that just keep going up, for everything from turning on the lights to paying for their mortgage and rent,” Horwath said.


NDP says Sault Ste. Marie byelection will be about jobs

SAULT STE. MARIE -- NDP candidate Joe Krmpotich welcomed Wednesday's news that the Sault Ste. Marie byelection has been called for June 1 – and said the campaign will be all about good jobs for the Sault – especially for young people.  

"Joe has spent his career fighting for working families in the Sault," said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. "It's time Sault Ste. Marie people had a real voice at Queen's Park; and his tireless focus on bringing jobs to his community is truly inspiring." 

Krmpotich said his focus is on creating good jobs that you can raise a family on, right in the Sault region.

"Our kids shouldn't have to leave home to find opportunity and a good career," said Krmpotich. "Young families want to raise their own children here, where they grew up. And they need and deserve stable, well-paying jobs in order to do that.

"Kathleen Wynne and her Liberals have done a lot of damage. Jobs have left, opportunities and programs for youth entrepreneurs have been cut. She doesn't understand what she's doing to people and families, and we can't let her do any more damage."

Krmpotich said the Conservatives aren't the answer.

"The Conservatives have a cut-and-privatize plan," he said. "And more cutting and more privatization is not what Sault families need – we're already struggling with skyrocketing hydro bills as a result of privatization." 

While good jobs you can raise a family on is Krmpotich's top priority, he said he is also running to deliver several other NDP commitments that are critical to the Sault, including:

  • The NDP plan to cut hydro bills by 30 per cent – which includes reversing the privatization of Hydro One and putting it back into public hands.
  • The NDP's commitment to create the first universal Pharmacare program – so everyone can get the medicine they need, and no one has to empty their wallet or rack up credit card bills at the pharmacy.
  • The NDP's push for more work-integrated learning opportunities. A proposed NDP bill on work-integrated learning will create more on-the-job experience through colleges and universities, which will help graduates get a job and launch their career right out of school.

"The NDP is going to create jobs and opportunities, and put a stop to the practice of forcing people to drain their bank accounts for necessities like the hydro bill and prescription medicine.

"I'm going to work hard in this byelection so that I have the opportunity to deliver those things for our community," said Krmpotich. 

Krmpotich is a Ward 6 City Councillor for Sault Ste. Marie. He's also a third-generation Steelworker, a husband, a dad and a lifelong Sault resident. He was nominated to be the NDP candidate in the Sault Ste. Marie by-election in January.

NDP MPP DiNovo asks Wynne Liberals to reverse their Toronto Public Library cuts

Today in the legislature, NDP GTA Issues critic and MPP for Parkdale-High Park, Cheri DiNovo, asked the Wynne Liberals to reverse their drastic funding cut to the Toronto Public Library.  

“Yesterday, the Liberals defended cutting 20% from Toronto public libraries. The government says that the library’s digital archives project isn’t being used,” said DiNovo. “Actually, the fact is, usage is up.”

According to usage statistics obtained by Ontario’s New Democrats, the number of items examined using TPL’s Virtual Reference Library has actually increased. (see image below)

“One of the great things about public libraries is everyone uses them. Young people, seniors, and new Canadians,” said DiNovo. “Public libraries are at the heart of local communities. And the Liberals are making cuts to the Toronto Public Library.” 

The cut to the Toronto Public Library comes as many services people count on are being cut or underfunded by the Wynne Liberal government. Hospitals, affordable housing, and public transit struggle without proper support from this provincial government. 

“Only in the Liberal world is a cut of $1.4 million not a cut,” said DiNovo, before asking the Wynne Liberals to reverse their cuts to libraries in Toronto.



NDP: Wynne turns her back on Ring of Fire

During question period Tuesday, Michael Mantha, the NDP’s critic for Northern Development and Mines, denounced the Wynne government for abandoning northern families and communities counting on the Ring of Fire.

Premier Kathleen Wynne did not allocate a single dollar in the budget to the job-creating and economy-building development.

NDP demands Wynne keep promise to Grassy Narrows and clean up mercury contamination

During question period Tuesday, the NDP’s environment critic, Peter Tabuns, demanded that Premier Kathleen Wynne respect the people of Grassy Narrows and clean up the mercury contamination of the English-Wabigoon River, after Wynne’s 2017 budget left out any mention of it, or of Grassy Narrows.

“The people of Grassy Narrows have been suffering from mercury poisoning for over 40 years,” said Tabuns.  “After the premier met with Chief Fobister of Grassy Narrows, in February, Chief Fobister and the media reported that she committed to cleaning up the mercury contamination at Grassy Narrows.

Horwath fights for Toronto Public Library as Wynne funding cut revealed

The City of Toronto has learned that Premier Kathleen Wynne is cutting funding to Toronto Public Library by 20 per cent – a move that drew strong criticism from NDP Leader Andrea Horwath in Tuesday’s question period.

“Libraries are great equalizers,” said Horwath during question period. “The government is cutting funding to the Toronto Public Library – funding that’s being used to provide internet hot spots for low income people, funding that gives kids access to books, and funding that allows new Canadians to take language classes.

“Libraries are key to poverty reduction strategies, and they make our communities great places to live. Why are the Liberals cutting funding from the Toronto Public Library?”

Wynne’s quiet, drastic cut to the Toronto Public Library comes after years of flat-lined funding.  It’s one of many services people count on that are being slashed or underfunded by the Wynne Liberal government. Affordable housing, hospitals and public transit are also struggling without proper provincial support after years of cuts and damage. 

“We can’t let Kathleen Wynne do any more damage,” said Horwath.

The 20 per cent cut equates to $1.4 million, with an in-year 2017 budget cut of $700,000 and another $700,000 to be cut from 2018. While Toronto Public Library provides critical service to Toronto and area residents, the library’s digitization program also develops online services for all Ontarians, including online access to the Toronto Reference Library’s vast and unique collection of historical materials.


Wynne’s budget ignores Torontonians, fails transit and affordable housing

During question period Monday, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath questioned Premier Kathleen Wynne on her decision to completely ignore the people of Toronto, and their housing and transit priorities, with her 2017-18 budget.

“Toronto set out some clear priorities for the budget,” Horwath said.  “People living in Toronto Community Housing need help, and the mayor asked that the province join with the city to provide that help. People relying on the TTC need an improved transit system and the mayor asked the province to join the city to provide that system. 

“I understand what the mayor is talking about. And when we met, I was clear: an NDP government will be there for Toronto.

“The premier ignored the people of Toronto in last week’s budget.” 

Horwath’s commitment to Toronto and cities throughout the province is that an NDP government will be a partner in affordable housing, funding one-third of the repair costs for social housing units, sharing the responsibility equally with the city and the federal government.

After seeing Thursday’s budget, Toronto Mayor John Tory told people living in Toronto Community Housing (TCHC): “The Ontario government is not helping to get your housing fixed.”

Last week, Horwath demanded Premier Wynne begin addressing the needs of families living in TCHC homes – many of which are in desperate need of repairs, with hundreds even being shuttered and sold off while tens of thousands of families are stuck on the wait list. Today, she continued pressing the premier at Queen’s Park. 

“Why isn’t the premier doing what’s needed to fix affordable housing in Toronto and across the province?” Horwath asked in question period. 

 While Mayor Tory told Torontonians the city got “a big goose egg when it came to social housing repairs,” both Tory and Horwath have also been critical of the complete absence of funding for transit improvement in the budget. 

“When I met with Mayor Tory, we talked about the importance of having the province support 50 per cent of the TTC’s operating costs,” Horwath said – a commitment she has made.

“Does the premier not understand how important transit is to all those who live and work in the GTHA, and in cities throughout Ontario?”


Statement by Andrea Horwath on Children and Youth Mental Health Care

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath issued the following statement on Mental Health Awareness Week, and the refusal of the Wynne government to commit funding to children and youth mental health care:

“Mental health care is health care.

Yet, in Ontario, children and youth are often forced to struggle alone, stuck on long waiting lists and unable to access the professional treatment and care they need.

Last week, Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals introduced a budget that ignored children and youth mental health. She hasn’t been listening to the 12,000 young people and their families who are waiting right now for therapy or intensive treatment. She has turned her back on the desperate situation so many children and families are in.

Today, the Canadian Institute for Health Information tells us that between 2006 and 2016, the number of times a young person was rushed to the emergency room in need of mental health treatment jumped 63 per cent.

That points to the thousands of children who don’t get the community treatment they need. In Ontario, too often, they’re forced to wait until their mental health challenge becomes a crisis before they can get help. A cycle that repeats itself with under-resourced community-based treatment options.

Doing better will save young lives. It will set young people on a healthier path, and give them a chance to fulfill their potential. It will repair families in crisis.

And Children’s Mental Health Ontario estimates that the cost of offering children the care and treatment they need – about $118 million – will translate into a $1 billion savings.

Today marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week. It’s a moment to reflect on the work we all have to do to combat stigma, encourage early recognition and intervention, and recommit to our belief that mental health care is health care. But one of the biggest changes has to come from Queen’s Park. Families need proper funding for children and youth mental health care – and they need a government that will stop ignoring this desperate need.”

Statement from NDP Leader Andrea Horwath on International Workers’ Day

On International Workers’ Day and everyday, Ontario’s New Democrats are in solidarity with Ontario’s workers. Together, we recognize and celebrate the historic achievements of Canada’s labour movement, and reaffirm our commitment to improving the lives of all workers.

Today, as Ontario families are working harder than ever to put food on the tables, heat their homes, and plan for their futures, we know that more must be done to secure a bright future for all Ontarians.

Despite the challenges working families in Ontario face, the Wynne Liberal government and Conservative opposition have privatized public assets and gradually rolled back workers’ rights and protections. Ontarians deserve better.

Today, we honour those who fought for workers’ rights in the past, and we join our voices with those who continue to call for better working conditions. At Queen’s Park, and across the province, Ontario’s New Democrats are fighting for improved safety in the workplace, a $15 minimum wage, better protections for casual and temporary workers, and making it easier for Ontarians to join a union – a ticket to stability and to the middle class.

By working together, we can build a more prosperous and caring Ontario, where families can plan for their future.