Statement from Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath on Orange Shirt Day


“Today, I wear orange in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for the many Indigenous children, throughout this country, who were taken from their homes and placed in residential schools. I wear orange to encourage the people around me to talk about the legacy of the schools. We must ask questions about the consequences of living in a place where your identity didn’t matter, where young children like Phyllis Webstad were forced to give up precious possessions like a new orange shirt, where Indigenous children’s traditions, heritage and culture were removed from them. As children all over Ontario and across Canada have just recently gone back in school, Orange Shirt Day is an important opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying discussions happening in classrooms. It is a stark reminder that we must keep discussing the past to learn from it. Today, on Orange Shirt Day, my wish is for the children of Ontario to talk to their teachers, classmates and parents about the residential schools and to understand that difference is not something to be feared, but rather, it is something to be celebrated.”

An NDP Government will create an Ontario Water Strategy, commits Horwath

Today Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath held a roundtable discussion with local residents to discuss the issue of water taking in Ontario and commit to creating a province-wide Water Strategy should the party form government in 2018.

“Water is a public trust.  Under an NDP government, an Ontario Water Strategy will prioritize planning for water needs now and for future generations based on the public interest, and sustainable public access to water,” said Horwath following the roundtable.

An Ontario Water Strategy will be based on the principle that the public should have access to water for drinking, sanitation and food; ensuring that communities have the water needed for planned sustainable growth; the Strategy will create an inventory of water use and return across the Province and will prioritize sustainable long-term water use planning.

On Tuesday Guelph City Council agreed to hear community input regarding bottled water permits in November.

“A particular focus of the NDP’s Water Strategy will be a transparent and public review of the Permit-to-take-Water process, to ensure that the needs of the public come first,” noted Horwath. “This has to be about good stewardship and sustainability. Simply increasing prices isn’t the answer.”

LGBTQ families finally recognized: NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo

Today, the Liberal government finally acted on Cheri DiNovo’s (NDP MPP, Parkdale-High Park) call for parental equality by announcing the introduction of All Families Are Equal Act, 2016 to grant equal parental rights for all families.

“We are pleased that LGBTQ families are finally going to be given equal rights,” said NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo, author of the original bill, Cy and Ruby’s Act giving parental recognition to LGBTQ parents. “This has long been overdue,” DiNovo added.

DiNovo’s bill had previously passed second reading but the government let it languish in committee. It died when the Liberal government prorogued the legislature.

Earlier this year, LGBTQ families issued a Charter challenge against the Ontario government and the courts ordered the government to bring in legislation to end discrimination against LGBTQ parents by September 30, 2016.

NDP reintroduced bill for Sikh motorcycle helmet exemption

NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh (Bramalea-Gore-Malton) introduced a bill today calling for an exemption to motorcycle helmet laws for turbaned Sikhs.  

“The Wynne government has an opportunity to recognize the civil rights of Sikhs in Ontario, rights that are recognized elsewhere in the country, and around the world,” Singh said.   “Granting an exemption to motorcycle helmet laws for turbaned Sikhs already exist in the United Kingdom, Manitoba and British Columbia, and here in Ontario the idea is supported by members from all three parties.”

MPP Singh has tabled this same bill twice previously, as Bill 196 on May 12, 2016, and as Bill 145 on December 3, 2013. 

“For over 10 years, the Sikh community has been working towards a legislated exemption for members of the Sikh faith who wear turbans when operating a motorcycle, but the Liberal government has failed to take action,” Singh said.

“There is little justification for this government to continue denying Ontario’s Sikh community the rights they already have in other jurisdictions.  Ontario’s New Democrats were the first party in Ontario to recognize the Sikh articles of faith, and as a proud New Democrat, I will continue to work with my colleagues to legislate the protection of all articles of faith.”

NDP Leader pushes to pass Islamic Heritage Month Bill in Legislature

This morning Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was disappointed when her Liberal colleagues in the Ontario Legislature failed to pass Bill 23, the Islamic Heritage Month Act 2016.

“This was an opportunity for us, as representatives of the people of Ontario, to come together to take action on the rising prevalence of Islamophobia and hate-motivated crime in our Province,” noted Horwath. “Celebrating Islamic culture, history and the contributions of people of Islamic heritage to our society is an important step that we need to take. Learning about each other and celebrating our diversity is a meaningful and effective way to combat hatred.”

London-Fanshaw MPP Teresa Armstrong, who introduced the Bill earlier this week, added that the NDP will not give up the fight to establish October as Islamic Heritage Month.

“I am very dedicated to seeing this Bill become law and I know Andrea is too,” said Armstrong.  “We will do whatever it takes to see October become Islamic Heritage Month in Ontario.”

The Ontario NDP has been working diligently to find ways to address racism, from calling for an end to arbitrary, race-based police street checks (carding), to pushing the Liberal government to finally establish the Anti-Racism Directorate.

“This is about building a better future for all of our children,” continued Horwath.  “We have to make sure that every member of the Muslim community, and every Ontarian, feels safe and secure here in our Province. That’s the only way Ontario can reach its potential.  All Ontarians should be able to learn about and celebrate the tremendous contributions that Ontarians of Islamic Heritage have made throughout our province’s history – and the tremendous contributions that thecommunity is making to build a better future for all of us.”

NDP Private Members Bill on Sexual and Domestic Violence to be reintroduced

NDP Women’s Issues critic Peggy Sattler, MPP for London West, was joined today by representatives of academia, labour and the community to announce the reintroduction of her Private Member’s Bill to provide survivors of sexual violence or domestic violence with up to 10 days of paid leave, and reasonable unpaid leave. The bill also allows for workplace accommodations and requires all employers to provide mandatory workplace training on domestic and sexual violence. 

The need for paid leave for survivors of domestic violence was raised repeatedly by groups and individuals during hearings of the Select Committee on Sexual Violence and Harassment and public input on Bill 132. The issue was also highlighted in submissions made to the Changing Workplaces Review and is referenced in the Special Advisors’ Interim Report, which identifies paid domestic violence/sexual violence leave as one of the options that must be considered.

The bill would entitle survivors to up to 10 days of paid leave to obtain specific services related to the violence:

Wynne government needs a strategy to face the opioid crisis: NDP

During Question Period today, France Gélinas, Ontario NDP health critic, demanded the Wynne government take action to stop the rising number of deaths in Ontario as a result of fentanyl and opioid overdoses.

Despite the rise in tragic deaths in Ontario, as a result of fentanyl and opioid overdoses, the Wynne Liberal government still has no real-time monitoring of such deaths to assist physicians and public health officials trying to deal with this health crisis,” said Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt. 

NDP MPP Armstrong introduced bill to establish October as Islamic Heritage Month in Ontario

NDP Citizenship and Immigration Critic, MPP Teresa Armstrong (London-Fanshawe) introduced a bill in the legislature today to establish October as Islamic Heritage Month in Ontario, as part of the NDP’s plan to fight islamophobia. 

“New Democrats recognize that increasing islamophobia is a reality in Ontario, and through this bill we are taking action to fight it through education and engagement,” Armstrong said.  “The provincial government can help support the fight against ignorance and hatred by promoting dialogue, conversation, questions, and knowledge about Ontario’s Islamic heritage.  Everyone deserves to feel safe and accepted for who they are in our province.”

Liberal approach to project-based mental health funding on campuses is failing Ontario students: NDP MPP Peggy Sattler

An alarming report released by the Ontario University and College Health Association confirms that there is a mental health crisis in Ontario postsecondary institutions, with 2016 survey results showing that student mental health has worsened since 2013.  Addressing the report, the President of the Association said, “lives are at stake.”

People need action now to improve social housing in Toronto: NDP

During Question Period today, Ontario New Democrats called for immediate action from the provincial government to build and repair social housing in Toronto, as families face a growing crisis of affordable housing in our province’s largest city. NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo (Parkdale—High Park) says the province is at a tipping point, and without action, life will only get harder for future generations.

Wynne government risked public safety by opening Nipigon River bridge despite knowing it had structural problems: NDP

Today during Question Period, Michael Mantha, NDP northern development critic, and MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin, demanded answers from the Wynne government about why it endangered public safety by allowing the Nipigon bridge to open despite previous knowledge of structural problems.

“Three months before the Nipigon River bridge failed, inspectors discovered a problem with the bearing assembly. This is the part that holds the bridge to the foundation. This is the part that failed,” Mantha explained.  “The contractors proposed a solution. The engineers told the Ministry there was a still a problem. But the Ministry approved it anyway. And then didn’t install the parts.”


NDP wants to make life a little easier for post-secondary grads in Ontario

Today Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath announced that an NDP government would immediately eliminate interest from Ontario student loans as a first step in solving the student debt crisis in the Province.

“The government should not be making a profit off of the fact that students in Ontario need to take out loans to afford postsecondary education, it’s just not right” said Horwath. 

The NDP leader was in St. Catharines today meeting with students at Brock University to discuss the high debt load that many of them will face upon graduation.

“This is a first step and an important one,” noted Horwath.  “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 the people who carry it, but on the provincial economy as a whole.”

Ontario is one of the most expensive provinces to access a college or university education. Since 2009, Ontario has had the highest average undergraduate and graduate tuition fees in the country.  The average debt load for a young person with a four year undergraduate degree is $28,000, for a post-graduate degree, its $35,000.

“Ontario can be a great place to live, but it’s getting harder to build a good life here, especially for young people,” said Horwath.  “We need a government that is focused on solutions, on taking action for the people of Ontario.  An NDP government will immediately eliminate interest from Ontario student loans as a first step in making sure that young people in this province have the opportunity to succeed.”

New Democrats celebrate Ontario’s francophone future on Franco Ontarian Day

Les néo-démocrates célèbrent l’avenir francophone de l’Ontario à l’occasion de la Journée franco-ontarienne:

déclaration de la chef du NPD, Andrea Horwath

<<Lors de la  Journée franco-ontarienne les Néo-démocrates célèbrent fièrement plus de 400 ans d’histoire francophone de notre province.  Nous honorons la contribution économique et culturel continue des francophones de l’Ontario  au tissue de notre société.

Les Néo-démocrates croient que les droits constitutionnels des francophones de l’Ontario doivent être respectées.  Nous allons continuer à demander l’égalité d’accès dans toute la province aux services publics essentiels comme la santé et l’éducation pour les francophones de l’Ontario, y compris l’accès aux études postsecondaires dans une université francophone autonome.

Ensemble, nous commémorons notre heritage francophone, et nous embrassons notre avenir francophone.>>

Fighting Islamophobia through Education, Engagement

Today Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath announced her party’s intention to introduce a Bill in the Legislature that will establish October as Islamic Heritage Month in the Province of Ontario.

“We have to do more to tackle discrimination, prejudice and Islamophobia,” said Horwath.  “This is an opportunity to recognize that increasing Islamophobia is a reality in Ontario, and to take action to combat it.”

NDP Citizenship and Immigration Critic MPP Teresa Armstrong will be introducing the bill, bringing the Province in line with the Federal government and local school boards-including the TDSB-which have already taken this step.

Statement from Ontario NDP Transportation Critic Wayne Gates

Engineering reports on Nipigon Bridge failure show lack of government oversight.

Ontario NDP Transportation Critic Wayne Gates issued the following statement:

“The upshot of these independent engineering studies is that the Nipigon Bridge failed because the Liberal government didn’t take their project oversight responsibilities seriously. Any engineering and design installation failures should have been caught before the Ministry of Transportation opened the Nipigon Bridge to passenger traffic in the first place.

 The buck stops with the Minister of Transportation. Unfortunately, by keeping Ontarians in the dark for more than 8 months, he has seriously eroded public confidence in the safety of Ontario’s road and bridge network. Without any further delay, Minister Del Duca must tell Ontarians exactly how much his government’s failures will cost Ontarians, whether the repairs could end up costing us more than $12 million, and what concrete steps he will take to make sure that such a dangerous lack of government oversight never happens again.”‎

Toward the Université de l’Ontario français

The MPP for Nickel Belt, and NDP critic for Francophone affairs, France Gélinas, re-introduced a bill today to create the Université de l’Ontario français - a Franco-Ontarian University.  Her previous bill passed second reading on November 19, 2015, but was lost when the Wynne Liberal government prorogued the legislature on September 9, 2016. 

NDP demands Premier answer questions about Grassy Narrows mercury clean-up

During Question Period today, France Gélinas, Ontario NDP Indigenous relations critic, demanded the Premier answer questions about what her government has done to fulfill its promise to address mercury contamination in Grassy Narrows.

“It took Japanese researchers, not this government, to provide the only public data on the health effects of mercury poisoning on the people of Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong,” Gélinas said.  “You committed $300,000 in May to immediately begin field work.  Will you show the local people there what’s been done, how much has been spent, what samples have been taken so far, because we have found nothing.”