Wynne Liberals put rural, northern schools at further risk of closure

Yesterday the Wynne Liberals quietly released their 2017-18 education funding allotment and the news isn’t good for rural and northern students and their families.

The Geographic Circumstances Grant was slashed another $6 million, on top of the $10 million in cuts Wynne has made since she took office.

Canadian Transportation Museum & Heritage Village in Essex facing soaring hydro bills, potential closure

Today during Question Period the Ontario NDP raised the case of skyrocketing hydro bills at the Canadian Transportation Museum & Heritage Village in Essex and demanded to know why the Wynne Liberals still haven’t taken any action to help Ontario families and organizations that are struggling to keep up.

“Staff at the Canadian Transportation Museum & Heritage Village reached out to the NDP to tell us that they are receiving hydro bills so high that don’t know if they can keep the museum doors open,” said Essex MPP Taras Natyshak.  “By privatizing Hydro One and hiking the cost of hydro bills, the Wynne government has squeezed an important piece of heritage in my community.  How did Wynne let it come to this?”

Government figures show new Liberal cuts to education

Ontario NDP Education Critic Peggy Sattler issued the following statement following the release of 2017-18 grants for student needs data:

“Figures released today by the Ministry of Education show that Kathleen Wynne’s newest cuts to classrooms will mean fewer supports for students, more layoffs, and even more school closures across the province.  Students with special needs will suffer disproportionately because of deep cuts to the services families depend on. 

Fifteen school boards across the province will see special education cuts totalling more than $4.6 million. Further cuts to geographic circumstances grants will mean more school closures for northern and rural communities. At a time when Ontario families need investments in education and kids, the Wynne Liberals are cutting critical programs and putting the future of our students at risk. Families deserve better.”

Wynne dragging feet on funds for children’s autism treatment: NDP MPP Taylor

Monique Taylor, NDP critic for children’s services, joined with families of children with autism today at Queen’s Park to continue to fight for services -- because children are still unable to access the treatment they need.

“They are here because they’ve been let down so many times before by the Wynne government and they see the writing on the wall for more of the same,” said Taylor, NDP MPP for Hamilton Mountain.

How many more executives hiding salaries from Sunshine List?

Today, Ontario NDP Finance critic John Vanthof called on the Wynne Liberals to reveal how many highly paid executives being paid with public dollars are hiding their salaries from disclosure on the sunshine list.

“Transparency is vital to good government.  Ontarians need to be able to trust that the sunshine list is true and comprehensive,” said Vanthof during Question Period. 

This morning, Ontarians learned that the vice-president of the Canadian Hearing Society received a massive raise that was hidden from disclosure on the sunshine list because he opted to be paid as a "consultant."

“Can the acting premier tell us, how many more ‘consultants’ are being paid high salaries with public money while keeping themselves off the sunshine list?” asked Vanthof.

The Ontario NDP has been critical of massive executive salaries, particularly at Hydro One -- including a $4.5 million payday for the CEO, a 500 per cent increase since Wynne started privatizing the company -- while everyday families struggle to pay their hydro bills. But Wynne has kept that salary and others off the sunshine list -- leaving Ontarians to wonder how many more million-dollar executives are taking public money without public disclosure. 


While premier does another photo-op, renters suffer

Today at the legislature Toronto-Danforth NDP MPP Peter Tabuns questioned the Wynne government’s priorities on housing affordability and demanded they take the first step by closing the rent-control loophole. 

“Photo-ops of Premier Wynne don't help people pay the rent,” said Tabuns. “While the premier smiles for the cameras, landlords in Toronto and across the province are free to seize the moment and drive up rents as much as they want."

Young families can’t provide for their children and pay Liberal hydro prices

London-Fanshawe MPP Teresa Armstrong says the Liberal governments’ failed hydro schemes are forcing young families to choose between paying out-of-control hydro bills and providing for their children. 

“Because they can’t afford their hydro bill, one young mom spends her days at her parents’ house to save on time-of-use charges, but it hasn’t worked, their bills haven’t changed,” said Armstrong this morning during question period. “Premier, can you imagine the frustration and anger these young parents feel being forced to choose between paying for your hydro schemes and providing for their infant?" 

The London-area family, who requested anonymity, live in a modest, semi-detached house that does not use electric heating. They spend their days at a grandparent’s house to avoid being in their own home during premium time-of-use hours. 

“When will this government take responsibility for the failed energy policies that you are forcing new young families to pay for?” asked Armstrong, the NDP Critic for Home and Long-Term Care. “And when we will see the Liberal plan?”

The NDP recently released a plan to lower hydro bills for young families like this one by up to 30 per cent. The plan reverses the Liberal government’s costly privatization in Ontario’s hydro system, and offers a number of immediate steps and long-term fixes to the hydro system to keep rates down – including ending unfair time-of-use billing practices.


NDP: 401 Richmond threatened by massive tax hike

NDP GTA Issues Critic Cheri DiNovo is calling on the Wynne Liberals to take action to save 401 Richmond, a downtown Toronto arts and culture hub at risk of closure from massive property tax increases.

“Late last year, tenants at 401 Richmond in Toronto received an incredible shock. Their property taxes were about to triple, threatening this cultural hub, which provides below-market rents to arts organizations and creative industries in downtown Toronto,” explained DiNovo during question period. “Taxes were tripling because MPAC does not assess properties like 401 Richmond based on the current use of the property, but on the value of a condo tower MPAC imagines might stand in its place.”

NDP raises case of hydro bill topping 50% of income

Today during question period, NDP Energy critic Peter Tabuns grilled Premier Kathleen Wynne over her failure to take action on soaring hydro prices, raising the case of Krysta Meecham-Robertson, whose $800 per month income is more than half wiped out by a $450 monthly hydro bill.

“Premier Wynne hasn’t taken a dime off people’s hydro bills,” said Toronto-Danforth MPP Peter Tabuns. “Advertisements paid for with public money don’t put food on the table for people like Krysta.”

Statement from Ontario NDP Women’s Issues Critic Peggy Sattler on Equal Pay Day

“Today, as we mark Equal Pay Day again in Ontario, it’s necessary to recommit ourselves to the fight for women’s economic empowerment and basic fairness.

This year’s sunshine list revealed that among government employees in Ontario, there is still a massive wage gap.  Only 25 per cent of the most recent sunshine list was made up of women. In some fields – like at Ontario Power Generation – it’s much worse.

NDP: Ontario seniors and families losing faith in long-term care services

NDP Home and Long-Term Care Critic Teresa Armstrong says Liberal government inaction is driving long-term care to the breaking point, leaving many families struggling to find quality care for their loved ones.

“Seniors are not happy with long-term care today. They are worried sick about their loved ones. They have little confidence in oversight,” said Armstrong this morning during question period. “After fourteen years in power, after fourteen years to improve long-term care, after fourteen years of inaction, when will this Liberal government finally admit that it has spent fourteen years failing the seniors of Ontario?”

CHS dispute leaves Deaf and hard of hearing community without service: MPP Gretzky

During question period today, Ontario NDP Community and Social Services critic and Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky called on the Liberal Government to ensure all workers at the Canadian Hearing Society are given the opportunity to negotiate a fair deal.

“It’s now been over a month since workers at the Canadian Hearing Society were forced off the job after working without a contract for four years,” said Gretzky. “This means people who are Deaf and hard of hearing don’t have access to the 227 interpreters, speech-language pathologists, counselors, literacy instructors and audiologists they depend on to thrive.”


Chag Pesach Sameach!

On behalf of Ontario’s New Democrats, I would like to extend best wishes to everyone celebrating Passover in Ontario and around the world.  

The story of Exodus remains as timely and relevant today as ever, as a lesson to find hope, when all seems lost. It tells us how enduring faith and optimism helped the Jewish people to survive terrible persecution, and thrive as a community. 

And while the story of Exodus teaches us that progress doesn’t always come quickly, with faith, hope, and perseverance, we can build a better world. It reminds us that the principle of tikkun olam - acts of kindness, peace and justice - should guide us now, more than ever, as we work with all Ontarians to build a more inclusive province, free of religious persecution and hate. 

Our thanks to Ontario’s Jewish community, for all your contributions to Ontario, and Canada. 

From my family to yours, Happy Pesach! 

Ontario NDP supports recognition of 1984 Sikh Genocide

TodayOntario’s New Democrats proudly supported MPP Harinder Malhi’s motion calling on the legislature to recognize the 1984 Sikh Genocide in India.

Today's motion passed, despite several of Wynne’s Liberal MPPs voting against it. The Liberal government previously opposition a similar motion to recognize the 1984 Sikh Genocide, introduced by NDP Deputy Leader Jagmeet Singh in June 2016.

Wynne failing people in Northwestern Ontario facing highest Lyme infection rates in Canada: MPP Campbell

NDP MPP for Kenora-Rainy River, Sarah Campbell, blasted Premier Kathleen Wynne for failing to take any action to protect people and families in Kenora and Northwestern Ontario from Lyme disease, after a study showed eight species of ticks carrying the Lyme disease bacterium were found in the Kenora area, an area previous identified as having the highest infection prevalence rates in Canada.

 “This research is a bombshell for people living in the Northwest and despite its author sending a copy to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care last November, the government has not even so much as notified the public about it,” Campbell said.

Wynne Liberals and Conservatives block rent-hike protection

Thursday morning, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called for a vote in the legislature that would have immediately protected all Ontarians from unfair, unreasonable rent hikes – but the effort was blocked by Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals and the Conservatives. 

“The fact is, there are people throughout the GTHA making some tough decisions right now because they’ve been notified of a rent hike they simply can’t afford,” said Horwath. “And thousands more who are wondering if they’re next. Premier Wynne doesn’t seem to understand – this situation is urgent. Families in the GTHA need a measure in place right now – today – to stop unreasonable rent hike notices from landing in their mailboxes tomorrow.”

Wynne allows millions in CEO salaries while young people’s precarious earnings decline: NDP

Catherine Fife, the Ontario NDP’s  employment critic, blasted Premier Kathleen Wynne for her callous decision to allow multi-million dollar salaries for some of the province’s executives, when a new report shows that earnings have gone down for young people in Ontario who are facing the second worst economy in the country. 

“The CEO of OPG earned more than $2 million in total compensation last year – not the $1.2-million that was stated in the Sunshine List,” Fife said.  “This government allowed the CEO to walk away with over $2 million in salary, bonuses, pension money, and $40,000 of ‘other pay’.


Horwath demands immediate close of 1991 rent control loophole in legislature

Today Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath demanded Premier Kathleen Wynne take immediate action to protect renters across the province by closing the 1991 loophole.  

During question period, Horwath referenced the recently released Generation Squeeze report that shows the wages, and quality of life for young people in Ontario have been dropping. The report singles out the high cost of rental housing as one of the causes, saying that young people are working full time but “watching their money down to the penny” and can’t imagine a day when they can afford to buy a house, let alone pay their student loans or be able to afford to live in this province without working two jobs.