Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said that the throne speech must commit to actions that will make a real difference in people’s lives when it comes to hydro costs, healthcare, and jobs. It’s now clear that the Liberal plan does not go far enough to in any of these key areas.
“We’re at a tipping point in this province. In today’s throne speech New Democrats hoped to see big changes so that the next generation will have more opportunity and a better future.” said Horwath. “Today’s throne speech could have done so much more to give immediate relief to families, to improve the quality of work in this province, to stop the sell-off of Hydro One, and to make sure everyone has health care they can count on. After listening to the Throne Speech, I can tell you New Democrats will keep working for the real action that people need to see.”
HST was added to Ontario residential electricity bills by the Liberals in 2010. Prior to that there was no provincial sales tax on electricity. Today’s speech from the throne indicated the government will introduce a rebate for Hydro instead of removing HST. There was no mention of how long this rebate would remain in place.
“For six years, New Democrats have been calling on the Liberals to take the HST off hydro as just the first step to lower hydro bills. Instead we see a bit of welcome relief, but nobody in Ontario knows how long it will last. Let’s make it easy. My message to the Premier is this: just take the HST off hydro, once and for all. Just get rid of it,” continued Horwath. “By refusing to stop the sell-off of Hydro One, the Liberals have shown that they still aren’t listening. Premier Wynne is still not interested in taking action to control the long-term rise in electricity costs.”
The NDP Leader said that the first step to improving healthcare in Ontario is for the Liberals to stop the cuts in our hospitals and to get wait times and overcrowding under control.
“Today’s throne speech does nothing to reverse the damaging cuts that this Liberal government has made to Ontario’s healthcare system. Sadly, under this plan hospitals will continue to crumble, nurses and healthcare workers will continue to be fired, and patients will continue to wait unacceptably long for treatment.”
Horwath said that she hoped the throne speech would contain concrete measures to support good jobs in this province, including a $15 dollar minimum wage, making it easier for workers to join a union, and improved employment standards.
“Nobody who works full time should have to live below the poverty line. Every Ontarian should be able to find a good paying job, obtain employment security and achieve a quality of life,” said Horwath. “Today’s throne speech is a let-down for Ontarians who called on the Liberal government to put their priorities first.”