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.

NDP: Out-of-touch Wynne budget silent on Grassy Narrows contamination

NDP Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell issued the following statement regarding the fact that the environmental  contamination crisis at Grassy Narrows was not mentioned in yesterday’s provincial budget.

“Once again, we’re seeing that the Wynne Liberals have no plan in place to clean up the English-Wabigoon River. Wynne has no intention of offering anything at all to Ontario’s First Nations to clean up the river, according to her budget.

“The Wynne Liberal government has ignored and downplayed the mercury contamination affecting the Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong First Nations for years, and the fact that it wasn’t even mentioned in the budget at all just shows how out of touch Kathleen Wynne is with the issues affecting Ontarians.

“Water is life. Ontario’s First Nations deserve clean drinking water, and a government that actually cares about helping them. This budget doesn’t even begin to address decades of damage that has already been done, let alone help these communities rebuild and plan for the future.”

NDP: Out-of-touch Wynne budget fails Toronto

Ontario New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath issued the following statement regarding the complete absence of funding for urgent community housing repairs in yesterday’s Wynne Liberal budget.

“Kathleen Wynne and the Liberal government have consistently ignored the funding needs of Canada’s biggest city. With her budget, she had an opportunity to start to undo some of the damage she’s done, and she refused to do that.

Statement from Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath on National Day of Mourning

Today, New Democrats across the province stand in solidarity with workers on the National Day of Mourning to say that even one worker killed at work is too many

Every year in Ontario, hundreds of workers are killed on the job or die from work-related illnesses or injuries. Thousands more are seriously injured. Every injury, illness and death in the workplace is unacceptable, and we as Ontarians have a responsibility to ensure that every worker makes it home safely, every day. 

Every Ontarian has the right to earn a living, and return home safely to their loved ones. And every worker is entitled to protection, including part-time or migrant workers, and those trapped in unstable employment.  

New Democrats are committed to improving occupational health and safety regulations, and their enforcement. We’re committed to working with unions, employers, OHS experts and with the WSIB to eliminate workplace incidents in Ontario, and provide care and support for victims of workplace illness and injury, including those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

We mourn the dead, and we fight for the living – and we will not stop until workplace injuries and deaths are a thing of the past.

Wynne’s budget doesn’t undo the damage she’s done

Showing how out of touch she is with Ontario families, Kathleen Wynne’s budget fails to undo the damage she has done to affordability for people, or the services they count on.

“What’s clear from this budget is that Ontarians waiting for a $15 minimum wage will have to wait for a change in government,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. “The 85 per cent of Ontarians that want a public hydro system and reform that will get their bills down, and keep them down – they’ll have to wait for a change in government. And the vast majority of the 2.2 million Ontarians without a drug plan won’t get the help they need until after the election.”

The Wynne government’s 2017-18 budget, released Thursday, ignores Ontarians who have been feeling the squeeze caused by high prices for hydro, housing, medication and so much more.

“This budget doesn’t even come close to undoing the damage Kathleen Wynne and her Liberals have done over the last 14 years,” said Horwath.

  • While providing drug coverage for children is necessary, the OHIP+ program leaves millions of people without coverage. One-third of all working Ontarians have no prescription drug coverage. Horwath has presented a universal Pharmacare program, which will provide prescription drug coverage to all Ontarians.
  • The budget commits to even further privatization of Hydro One, even though the budget shows Ontario is already losing $1.2 billion in annual revenue as a result of the privatization so far – money that used to pay for schools, hospitals and more. Horwath has presented a plan to bring bills down by 30 per cent and bring Hydro One back into public ownership.
  • Hospital funding falls more than $300 million short of what hospitals say they need. Pinning hospital funding down to annual inflation – two per cent – the budget won’t begin to reverse the damage of Wynne’s fired nurses, cancelled surgeries and overcrowded ERs.
  • The budget ignores badly needed reforms to employment laws, overlooking the long-overdue Changing Workplaces Review and failing to implement a $15 minimum wage.
  • With 300 schools on the chopping block today, there is no commitment in the budget to stop closing schools. A $4.6 million slash to special education across 15 school boards will go ahead, according to the budget.
  • The budget continues to ignore the province’s responsibility for operating costs for transit, and does nothing to make transit better, or more affordable for students and working families. The NDP has committed to a 50-per-cent funding agreement along with its municipal partners.
  • The budget does only the bare minimum to meet previous, already inadequate promises on early learning and child care.

“Kathleen Wynne watched the price of housing skyrocket while subsidized housing stock was allowed to crumble and be shut down. She sold off Hydro One without the consent of its owners – the people of Ontario – while denying that skyrocketing hydro bills were a problem for people. And she sat by while family after family, young person after young person, struggled under the weight of growing personal debt,” said Horwath.

“Hospitals have suffered through nine years of cuts and four years of frozen budgets. As a result, there are at least 250 patients in hallways and closets instead of proper hospital rooms.

“Kathleen Wynne just doesn’t get that people are being squeezed, and the services they count on are at a tipping point. Now is the time for big ideas, and a big priority shift to put people back at the centre of government.

“With this budget, it’s clear Ontario won’t even get to undo any of the damage done by Kathleen Wynne – let alone move ahead to a brighter future for Ontario people.”

Horwath and Krmpotich vow to roll back Wynne cuts and prioritize youth job creation in the Sault

Sault Ste. Marie  – NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Sault Ste. Marie candidate Joe Krmpotich were in the Sault Wednesday to announce their key commitment to the community: good jobs, right in the Sault -- especially for young people. 

Horwath and Krmpotich delivered that message after a visit to YouLaunch, a youth entrepreneur program within the Sault Ste Marie Innovation Centre, which has seen great accomplishments in creating local youth jobs and new businesses in the Sault.  

 "YouLaunch, by every right, is an Ontario success story.  They have created real jobs for youth, in youth led-businesses. This is exactly the kind of leadership and results young Sault families need in today's challenging work environment,"  Horwath said.

"Unfortunately, two-thirds of the program's core funding will not been renewed by Wynne government despite their accomplishments, and despite the need for more good Sault jobs."

In less than two years, YouLaunch reached over 6,000 local youth, helped them access $110,000 in grants and promoted Indigenous youth opportunities and excellence. 

"Young people in the Sault need good, stable jobs that allow them to plan for their future, and invest in themselves and our community," said Krmpotich. "Sault families want to know that their own kids can stay here, and can raise their own family here." 

Horwath and Krmpotich said good jobs and careers -- jobs you can raise a family on -- would mean generations of Sault families could stay and thrive.  

 "When a student finishes their education at Sault College, Algoma U, or comes home from school elsewhere, they should be able to find a good job – a career – here in the Sault," Horwath said. 

"Building opportunities for young people, and creating good jobs for all workers, is my top priority for Sault Ste. Marie. Electing Joe Krmpotich to fight for the Sault is a step forward -- and ensuring YouLaunch and programs like it are properly funded is absolutely critical."

Krmpotich vowed to take that priority to Toronto.  

"As a Steelworker and a Councillor, I've spent years working to defend and create good jobs here.  And when I join Andrea at Queen's Park, I'll fight every day to make sure every young person who wants to live, work, and build a future here in the Sault has a job that allows them do so."

Horwath to Wynne: support Hamilton rapid transit now

Ontario NDP Leader and Hamilton Centre MPP Andrea Horwath sent the following letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne, urging her to support the development of rapid transit in Hamilton along a route terminating at Eastgate Square: 

Hon Kathleen O. Wynne
Room 281, Main Legislative Building, Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A1

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Premier Wynne;

The debate around rapid transit in Hamilton is reaching a tipping point. Hamilton residents need to know you will not cause this to be a missed opportunity. Before council votes on the transit plan tomorrow, you must provide clarity and confirmation about the province’s support for the project. I strongly urge your government to honour its commitment to the City of Hamilton, and offer secure funding for rapid transit to reach the originally planned end point of Eastgate Square. 

Your government must take a hands-on approach and offer constructive solutions as we approach this critical vote. 

The shape of rapid transit in Hamilton will, in no small way, shape the future of the city, its economy, and the quality of life available to its residents. Hamiltonians deserve a complete rapid transit solution, not a half measure. And they deserve a government that honours its commitments.

Council is voting on this issue tomorrow, but they can only make an informed decision if your position is known. I hope by then you will have made your support and financial commitment clear for the original Eastgate Square route. 


[original signed]

Andrea Horwath
Leader, Ontario’s New Democrats
MPP, Hamilton Centre

Wynne approves millions in salary increases for OPG executives as families struggle with sky-high hydro bills: NDP

During question period Tuesday, NDP Energy Critic Peter Tabuns demanded that Premier Kathleen Wynne explain why she thinks families who can’t afford their skyrocketing hydro bills should pay for a 100 per cent raise for the Ontario Power Generation (OPG) CEO, who is now set to receive a whopping $3.8 million salary.

“How does the premier explain to families who may lose their hydro why she thinks they should pay for a 100 per cent salary increase for the OPG CEO?” said Tabuns.

NDP Leader: Brampton deserves better than ‘hallway medicine’

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says cuts to hospital funding by the Wynne Liberals have left Brampton-area hospitals in crisis, and patients needing urgent care are paying the price.

“Jamie-Lee Ball is a young woman who found herself in excruciating pain. She was suffering from internal bleeding and complications from surgery, so she went to the emergency room at Brampton Civic Hospital to get some help,” said Horwath during question period this morning. “But instead of getting a hospital bed, Jamie-Lee was put on a stretcher in a hallway. She was labelled ‘Hallway patient number 1’ and she spent five long days and nights waiting for a real hospital bed.”

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath’s statement on Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day)

New Democrats and all Ontarians stand in remembrance with the Canadian and international Jewish community, remembering the six million Jews systematically killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust, including Jewish refugees turned away at the Canadian border.

We also remember the victims killed for their political beliefs, ethnicities, disabilities, and sexual orientation. The horrors of the Holocaust remind us daily that anti-Semitism, faith-based discrimination, and prejudice of any kind have no place in Ontario or Canada.

As we commemorate the loss of the Jews killed in the Holocaust, we also honour the survivors, and their strength and perseverance. In Canada, 40,000 Holocaust survivors have gone on to build a new life, sowing the seeds of today’s vibrant, thriving Jewish community.

New Democrats call on all Ontarians to be vigilant in the fight against anti-Semitism and hate. Let us honour the victims of the Holocaust by sharing their stories, to ensure that no such crime occurs ever again.

Horwath reveals details of her universal Pharmacare plan

On Monday, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath laid out her plan for Ontario’s first Pharmacare program – a program to deliver lower cost, less stress and better health for all Ontarians.

“No one should have to rack up credit card bills to get the medicine they need,” said Horwath. “No one should end up in an already-overcrowded hospital because they couldn’t afford to take the medicine they were prescribed. That’s why I’m committed to creating Ontario’s first universal Pharmacare program.”

Horwath announces Ontario’s first universal Pharmacare plan

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath announced Saturday that she’ll create the province’s first universal Pharmacare plan – a commitment to ensure all Ontarians can afford the medicine they’re prescribed.
“You shouldn’t have to empty your wallet to get the medicine you need,” said Horwath. “No family should have to rack up credit card debt to treat an illness. And no one should ever go without the treatment they need because of cost.”
One in four Ontarians doesn’t take their medication as prescribed because of cost, and 2.2 million Ontarians have no prescription drug coverage at all. With a growing number of people working non-traditional or unstable jobs, or finding it more difficult to land a job that comes with some benefits, the cost of medications is a growing struggle.
  “There are many in Ontario who split their pills in half to make the bottle last longer,” said Horwath. “Or they leave the doctor’s office with a prescription they need, knowing they’ll never fill it because of the price.
“Imagine if everyone could take their medication without the barrier of cost. We can help people live healthier, less stressful lives. We can make their month a little more affordable. And by preventing emergency room trips, we can improve people’s lives, and also relieve the strain on our overcrowded hospitals.”
Horwath, who made the announcement at an NDP convention on Saturday, will reveal details of her plan Monday morning. 
“My plan is affordable, and when we think of the risk to people’s health from skipping their medication – even the risk to their lives – it’s clear that we can’t afford not to implement universal prescription Pharmacare,” said Horwath. “This plan will mean lower cost, less worry and better health for everyone.”

Fired-up NDP convention focused on 2018

A roaring New Democratic Party convention made clear Saturday that they’re ready to run with Andrea Horwath, and they’re aiming for government in 2018.
Horwath received a 90-per-cent endorsement from the 1,200-delegate convention.
Weeks after announcing that she will reverse the selloff of Hydro One and bring down hydro bills by as much as 30 per cent, she unveiled another major policy piece Saturday: the creation of a universal Pharmacare program if elected.
Delegates also spent the first two days of the three-day convention discussing the NDP’s vision for Ontario; one with a government that shares people's priorities, and takes action to make it easier for everyday families to build their lives. Discussion and resolutions included topics like the price of hydro, the cost of housing, overcrowding in hospitals and lagging wages in Ontario.
The convention, being held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, continues Sunday.

Andrea Horwath's speech to Ontario NDP Convention, April 2017

Hello New Democrats!

Bonjour à toutes et à tous !

Sisters and brothers, it’s so good to see you!

You are the heart and soul of our party. Thank-you all for being here!

We have the most dedicated activists and organizers in the NDP. 

We are people who aren’t just ready for change; we are people working hard to make change happen!

We’ve got new members, here at their very first convention. 

And young people from Ontario NDP Youth (ONDY) – And I gotta tell you, our young members are much more than the future of this party! 

They are very much at the core of who we are today!

We have so many sisters and brothers here from the labour movement, from unions that aren’t just our friends and allies; the labour movement is our founding partner. And we stand shoulder-to-shoulder every step of the way!

And, of course, we’ve got our incredible team of elected New Democrats!

Our MPPs, Members of Parliament, and the municipal representatives and school board trustees who are proud members of this party. 

These are women and men who work hard for the people of Ontario! And they’re doing an incredible job. 

We’re here, together, because we share a vision for this province.

A vision built on the values that have driven New Democrats from the very start.

I love this Province and I know Ontario can be a great place to live.

For our own families; and for our neighbours, our co-workers, and all of our children.

We know that a future is possible, for Ontario, without poverty and without discrimination.

A future where no one is denied a good life because of who they are, or where they come from, or how much money their parents make! 

A future with more prosperity for working people, more security for families, and more opportunity for everyone who needs it! 

This is the vision that unites us – and inspires us.

And it’s a vision that we can achieve together.

Today, we are less than fourteen months away from the next election.

But let’s be clear: 

This campaign is already on.

This campaign is well underway.

And New Democrats are in this campaign to win!

Today, I want to talk about the kind of change this province needs.

The kind of change we’re going to offer people over the next fourteen months; and the bold and progressive change that an NDP government is going to deliver in 2018!

It is the great privilege of my life to serve as leader of this party.

And the best part of the job is that I get to meet so many people, from Scarborough to Sudbury to Sioux Lookout, and from so many walks of life.

And everywhere I go people come up to me – and open up to me about what’s happening in their lives.  

I hear their hopes. I hear their frustrations. And I hear the worries that keep folks up at night. 

I think of women like Jane, who I met in Kingston, who told me she was forced to choose between buying groceries or paying for hydro.

Jane bought groceries. 

And her hydro was cut off.

Can you imagine? Can you imagine. In Ontario, in 2017, a woman forced to choose between heating her home in the winter, or feeding herself and her family?

I think of Charlene, a mother of three, up in Sault Ste. Marie. 

She works full time. 

So does her husband.

But now she’s been forced to pick up a part-time job, on top of everything else. 

Her family is working so hard they’ve got no time left to spend together to build their lives and make memories together.

Charlene and her husband are working so hard. And being forced to give up so much.

I think of young people, like Ahmad from Windsor, who study hard, but graduate only to find that good jobs – with benefits and a pension and guaranteed hours – are few and far between. 

Instead of opportunity, Ahmad found a mountain of student debt that piles higher and heavier every year. 

Debt that weighs him down, just as he’s trying to start his life. 

And I think of the people, right here in Toronto, and across the province, who’ve had their rents hiked way beyond their means, because Kathleen Wynne refused, for years, to extend rent protection to everyone. 

When I think of a young person getting a notice that their rent is going up by hundreds of dollars a month.

Or I think of a young family trying to balance it all, only to get a notice under the door, telling them that their apartment – their home – is now suddenly out of their price range. 

Well, that’s just not right, is it?! 

Toronto is an incredibly vibrant city. 

A global city, full of opportunity. But if Toronto is going to live up to its promise, we’ve got to make sure that working folks can afford to live here. And thrive here!

Sisters and brothers, these are the women and men we work for. 

For Charlene. For Jane. For Ahmad.

These are the families we fight for!

These are the students and seniors we stand with!

And let’s never lose sight of who we’re here for! Who we stand with! And what we stand for! 

Nos priorités sont claires.

Nos priorités mettent les gens en premier.

Kathleen Wynne is not working for the people of Ontario. 

More and more, we see who she’s in it for: 

She’s in it for herself and her Liberal party!

The Premier governs like she’s never even opened her own hydro bill!

Like she’s never listened to a single mom that can’t pay for hydro and groceries in the same month. 

Like she’s never spoken to a young person who’s years away from having a good job.  

The kind of job you can raise a family and build a future on. 

The Liberals have spent the past fourteen years making life harder for families. And looking out for themselves.

Kathleen Wynne denied there was a hydro crisis— right up until it became a political crisis for the Liberal Party.

Now, she’s come out with a hydro scheme to try to save Liberal seats. 

But it comes with a price tag. Get ready for this…of up to 40 billion dollars in new costs and new interest payments on the backs of the people of Ontario.

Even now, as her time in office comes to a close Kathleen Wynne is focused on helping herself and the Liberal Party, no matter what it costs the people of Ontario. 

We’ve seen this over and over. 

Instead of protecting health care, Premier Wynne cut our hospitals and laid-off thousands of health care workers. 

Instead of protecting our schools, Premier Wynne turned around and robbed our children’s classrooms of the supports they need. 

Today, there is a critical lack of support in the classroom. 

It’s making it harder for children to learn, harder for teachers and education workers to do their jobs and it’s led to a rise in violence in our schools that put students and educators at risk. 

On top of all that, this Premier is closing down local schools across the province. 

And refusing to listen to parents, who know that we’ve got to keep those schools open. 

Kids in northern and rural communities are being forced to spend as much time on the bus as they spend in the classroom, because their local schools are being shut down. 

That’s just not right! 

If you live in Northern Ontario, if you live in a rural community, if you live in a small town or a village, you deserve so much better from the Premier of this province! 

Our schools and our hospitals are at the heart of every community. Families are counting on public services to be there.

But this Liberal Premier doesn’t get it.

And frankly, neither do the Conservatives. 

The Conservatives have no real solutions to offer… for the problems that working people face. 

Their leader, Patrick Brown, has been a Conservative politician for 17 years. Including nine years as an MP in Stephen Harper’s government.

He’ll do what Conservatives always do.

They help big companies. 

They help the privileged few at the very top. 

And they cut and privatize the public services that all the rest of us are counting on!

Ontario cannot afford to let the Wynne government do more damage. 

And we certainly cannot afford to let the Conservatives take us backwards with deep cuts and even more privatization!

New Democrats, it is up to us.

It’s up to us to take on the problems that working families face. Show them that the NDP is working for them and give people hope again.   Hope that their future will be better than it is today!

I got into politics to help people.

That’s why every one of us is in this room today. 

We’re here to bring change to Ontario. To help Jane and Charlene and Ahmad. 

To ensure that no matter where you live in Ontario, you have a fair chance at building a good life here. 

Well, sisters and brothers, there’s only one way to do it… 

We’ve got to elect a government that works for working people!

Nous devons travailler fort. 

Nous devons gagner. 

Nous devons élire un meilleur gouvernement !

Think about the kind of change that New Democrats have brought to this great country. 

Think about the years before Medicare, when people who needed health care, couldn’t get it unless they had the money to pay for it.

Tommy Douglas saw what was happening. And he knew it didn’t have to be that way.

When he was elected Premier of Saskatchewan, he didn’t wait for someone else to fix it.

He got to work. 

He started with the nation’s first universal hospital insurance. 

Then he extended public health care to doctor’s visits. 

He proved that Medicare would work in his province – and for the entire country!  

New Democrats built public health care… 

Because we believe that health care is a right, not a privilege.

We believe that when you need care, you shouldn’t have to pull out your wallet to get it! 

And we have the courage of our convictions to stand up for our beliefs – and make life better for millions of people! 

This legacy is more than just inspiring for us today.

It is more than just the proud history of what New Democrats have accomplished, with our partners in labour and with activists across this country. 

The story of Tommy Douglas and the creation of Medicare is also the most powerful reminder we have that when New Democrats win elections, we can do great things! 

When New Democrats win, we can change people’s lives for the better! 

And that’s exactly what we’re going to do, right here in Ontario!

We are running to win in 2018. And when we do, here’s what’s going to happen…

When we win, the days of cutting public services and selling-off public assets are going to be a thing of the past!

We will stop the sell-off of Hydro One.

And we will bring Hydro One back into full public ownership! 

Our power system should belong to the people of this province. 

It should work for people like Jane and Charlene, not just for the powerful friends of the Liberal Party!

Our hydro plan sets out an ambitious program – and in that program, making Hydro One public again is Job Number One!

And while we bring Hydro One back into public ownership, we’ll also take action to lower hydro bills by up to 30 percent.

Electricity is not a luxury. So it shouldn’t be priced like one!

With our plan, rural families and businesses will pay the same delivery costs as urban customers. 

Because that’s what’s fair!

We will cap private profits in the electricity sector.

We will end mandatory time of use, so families can cook dinner at dinnertime without being punished.

And we’ll end the ridiculous practice of paying for electricity we don’t need.

I know who I’m here for. 

I know who I’m working for! And it’s not for Kathleen Wynne’s friends in high places! 

It’s for the people of Ontario! It’s for everyday families! 

And with an NDP government, the people of Ontario will pay less for, and own more of, our public hydro! 

As we take action to get peoples’ costs down, we’re also going to focus on raising their wages. 

We have to do both. 

We need a government that supports good jobs. 

The kind of jobs that come with good wages, decent benefits, and the rights that unions have fought so hard to win and every worker deserves to keep. 

Just because the nature of work is changing today, doesn’t mean that the benefits of working have to change – and it certainly doesn’t mean any worker should be stuck living in poverty.

In fact, in a province as rich as ours, there should be no such thing as the “working poor”! Wouldn’t you agree? 

So, when we win, New Democrats will raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour! 

We will crack down on predatory temp agencies, that take advantage of vulnerable workers!  

And we will make sure every worker can take a paid sick day! 

We have to do everything we can to help workers and their families build a real future.

And if there’s one guaranteed ticket into the middle class, if there’s one sure way to help build a better future, we know what it is — it’s called a union card!  

And it’s time more workers have a union card in their wallet! 

And have the rights and respect and solidarity that comes with being a union member! 

For years, Liberals and Conservatives have put up barriers to organizing.  

Well, sisters and brothers, what do you say we tear those barriers down?!

We will introduce card-check certification and first-contract arbitration for every worker in Ontario! 

And we will make it easier for workers to join together… speak up together… and bargain together for a fair deal!

It’s about people … It’s about fairness… And it’s about opportunity.

This is why we’re running. 

This is why we want to win. 

And this is why we are going to work flat-out over the next fourteen months to make it happen! 

We are running to win — to stand up for everyone who needs health care, and build the home care and long-term care services that our aging parents need.

We are running to win — to invest in our classrooms, work with parents and educators, and keep our local schools open!  

We are running to win — to make child care affordable for moms and dads who need it!

We’re running to win — to restore provincial funding for transit operations – here in Toronto for the TTC, and in communities across Ontario! 

We’re running to win — so young people have more opportunities – and we can take real action to end the crisis of student debt! 

Young people in Ontario should have a debt-free start to life! So let’s make it happen!

When we win, we’re not just going to talk about climate change, we’ll take action to fight it, to cut emissions, and make sure that low-income folks and Northern communities don’t pay the highest price! 

Polluters should pay the biggest share! 

And we will work with First Nations and Indigenous peoples to take meaningful steps towards real reconciliation. 

And to make a positive impact in people’s lives. 

There is just no excuse, in the year 2017, for anyone in Ontario to live without clean drinking water, without safe housing, and without proper health care.

No excuse whatsoever. 

It’s simply not acceptable. So let’s change it.

If the federal government keeps dragging its feet and refusing to fix the water crisis, the housing crisis, and the health crisis in First Nations communities, we’re not just going to stand by and watch another generation suffer. 

We will work with First Nations to fix the problems – 

To close the education gap. To ensure clean drinking water. To deliver proper health care and safe housing.

And then we’ll send the bill to Ottawa! 

This is so important.

Whether you live at Red Rock… or in Rexdale. Whether you live on Walpole Island, or on Wellesley Street.

If you live in Ontario, you should have a roof over your head! And the necessities of life that you need!

In a province as wealthy as Ontario, we can eliminate poverty.

We can consign homelessness to history. 

We can build affordable housing, and supportive housing, and co-op housing for every family that needs it!

This is who we are. 

This is why we’re running to win.

New Democrats, this is what we’re going to do!

Nous avons la vision.

Nous avons les valeurs.

Nous sommes prêts au changement !

This afternoon, I am incredibly proud to tell you that our NDP government will also pick up where Tommy Douglas left off. 

And we will take the next step to build universal health care. 

I met a woman a few months ago in Smithville.  

Her name was Richelle.  

We were actually talking about her hydro bill. It’s gone up like everyone else’s.

And then Richelle told me that her hydro costs so much, she’s forced to choose between filling her family’s prescriptions or paying to keep the lights on. 

Richelle shouldn’t have to do that.

No mother should be put in that position. 

Seeing a doctor just doesn’t mean much… if you need a prescription, but can’t afford to fill it. 

But in Ontario today, one in every four people are not taking the medication they need.  

Because they can’t afford it.

That’s millions of people who don’t fill their prescriptions. 

Who cut their pills in half to make the bottle last longer and, all-too-often, end up in the hospital as a result. 

I believe that no one should have to empty their wallets to get the prescriptions they need!

No one should have to rack up their credit cards to get the medicine they’re prescribed!

And no one. No one. should have to go without the prescriptions they need, just because they can’t afford to buy them 

That’s why, today, I’m making a commitment: 

When we win in 2018, we are going to create Canada’s first universal Pharmacare plan right here in Ontario!

It will mean lower costs, less worry, and better health for everyone. 

It will mean fewer emergencies – fewer people in ERs.

It will mean we can save lives. 

Lower costs. Less worry. Better health. Let’s get this done! 

We all know that Canada needs universal and comprehensive national Pharmacare.  

Every Canadian needs it. 

And it’s up to us to start building it. 

Just like Tommy Douglas started in one province and built Medicare step-by-step, we’re going to start building universal Pharmacare right here in Ontario. 

We are running to win so that our NDP government can create Ontario’s first universal Pharmacare program – and so all Ontarians can get the prescription drugs we need!

No matter who you are. No matter where you work. 

No matter how old or how young you are!

On Monday morning at Queen’s Park, I’ll announce the details of our plan to build Pharmacare for everyone, starting with the most commonly-prescribed essential medicines.

We will provide universal drug coverage for all Ontarians.  

And we’ll keep expanding it until the day comes that every Canadian has access to comprehensive national Pharmacare! 

Not only is it affordable, for the sake of Richelle and millions of Ontarians, we can’t afford not to! 

And as our good friend Jack Layton was so fond of saying, we won’t let anyone tell us it can’t be done! 

This is what the next election is all about. 

This is what we’re running to do. 

And this is the bold and progressive change you can expect from a bold and progressive NDP government! 

Sisters and brothers, we have less than fourteen months to make it happen. 

And people are counting on us. 

People today are paying the price for a government that is desperately out of touch with the realities of everyday life. 

Out-of-touch with how the cost of living is hurting folks.

Out-of-touch with what’s happening to workers today. 

Out-of-touch with the mountain of challenges that young people face. 

But we can change that!

Let’s focus on what we’re running to do and the people we are running to help!

The only way that Jane and Charlene and their families will get lower hydro bills by up to 30 percent is if we win the next election! 

The only way that the cashier where you grab your coffee every morning will actually get a 15 dollar minimum wage is if we win the next election! 

And the only way that people working two or three jobs and trying to raise their family, will actually see universal Pharmacare turned into reality is if we – Ontario’s New Democrats – win the next election! 

We don’t have a day to lose.

Let’s reach out and invite folks to join us. 

Let’s share our vision of a better future.

New Democrats, now is our time.

Let’s get out there – and show the people of Ontario that we are working for them!

Merci beaucoup !  Megwich Thank-you very much!