Statement from Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath on addressing the pressing needs of municipalities now

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath issued the following statement.

"The needs of Toronto, and municipalities across the province, have been ignored for too long by Premier Wynne and her Liberal government.  New Democrats are proud to support  citizens groups and municipal leaders who have called on the Province to contribute its fair share when it comes to funding transit and transportation,  affordable housing for vulnerable Ontarians, and affordable and accessible childcare for working families.

While municipalities will no doubt find good use for additional gas tax revenue, they cannot wait until 2021 for support.

If the Premier were truly committed to meeting the needs of Toronto and Ontario’s municipalities then she would  immediately restore 50% operating funding for municipal transit services, which amounts to more than $300 million dollars as opposed to the inadequate $170 million dollars the Liberals are offering Toronto. She would make real contributions to protect affordable municipal childcare spaces, which municipalities are being forced to close for lack of provincial support. She would immediately commit the Province to providing an equitable one third split, alongside the federal government and municipalities, for affordable housing, so that municipalities can make badly needed improvements to affordable housing stock.

Like people in Toronto and across the province, I am deeply disappointed that the Premier has decided to play games with the urgent need for transit funding. The timing of this announcement and the fact that the money she is promising won’t begin to flow until after the 2018 provincial election is politics at its worst. It is the duty of a provincial government  to respond to the pressing needs of cities and municipalities now not at the most politically convenient time.  The upcoming provincial budget must include 50% operating funding for municipal transit and real support for public housing and affordable childcare.

In the future I look forward to meeting with Mayor Tory and municipal leaders across the province to discuss ways in which the Province can and should be helping municipalities to meet their transit, transportation, childcare and affordable housing needs." 

Statement by Ontario NDP Advanced Education and Skills Development Critic Peggy Sattler

Ontario NDP Advanced Education and Skills Development Critic Peggy Sattler issued the following statement:

“New Democrats have long called on the Liberal government to put a hard cap on public sector CEO salaries and to make sure that our precious public dollars are used to enrich the learning experience of students instead of enriching executives.  

Unfortunately, today’s announcement by the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development has more to do with insulating the Liberal government against criticism than it does with prioritizing classroom needs and investing in post-secondary education for Ontarians.”

Joe Krmpotich secures NDP Sault Ste. Marie nomination

This evening in front of a room full of enthusiastic New Democrats, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath welcomed Sault Ste. Marie City Councillor Joe Krmpotich as the party’s nominee for the upcoming provincial byelection in the riding. 

“I am thrilled to have Joe carrying the NDP banner as we head into what will most certainly be a very competitive byelection,” said Horwath at the meeting.  “Joe’s dedication to his community, his eagerness to serve, and his willingness to listen to all points of view and engage with anyone working to make life better for the people of Sault Ste. Marie are just a few of the qualities that will make him an excellent representative for this community.”

Joe is committed to making government about people again – so it actually works for the residents of Sault Ste. Marie. He’s a champion of education, health care and seniors care - because he believes in opportunities and security for everyone.

“Too many Ontarians are struggling to make ends meet and it’s no different here in the Sault. Hydro costs just keep going up, wages are flat, and more and more people are finding themselves trapped in part time jobs that don’t pay enough and don’t have benefits,” said Krmpotich after securing the NDP nomination.  “Kathleen Wynne isn’t the Premier she promised to be, and Patrick Brown will only make things worse.  I know we can do better.  We have to do better if we are going to provide the next generation the opportunity to live, work, and raise a family here in Sault Ste. Marie.”

Joe Krmpotich was born, raised, and educated in Sault Ste. Marie. As a parent, City Councillor and former United Way Chair, Joe cares passionately about the Sault, and is committed to building a better future for his community.

Horwath, Singh honour Ontario’s South Asian media outlets

Sunday evening Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Deputy Leader Jagmeet Singh honoured Ontario’s South Asian media outlets with a reception and dinner event in Brampton.

“A thriving and independent press is one of the foundations of our democracy, and a vibrant ethnic press is crucial in a diverse province like ours,” said Horwath at the event.  “The importance of the work that South Asian media does in Ontario cannot be overstated.  You ensure that the work our elected representatives do is communicated back to communities that the English-language press doesn’t necessarily reach; and for that, we thank-you most sincerely.”

Community water needs must take permanent priority over corporate interests:

Ontario NDP Environment and Climate Change Critic Peter Tabuns issued the following statement: 

“New Democrats welcome the long-overdue acknowledgement that Ontario should not be giving away water to corporate bottlers for a pittance. However, nowhere in today’s announcement does the Liberal government commit to protecting the water needs of municipalities and First Nations communities by giving them permanent priority over commercial interests.

Public outcry over the management of Ontario’s water resources has finally forced the Liberal government to pay attention. Thorough consultation with Ontarians is an important first step but what is needed is a comprehensive water strategy for the entire province. ”

Government must act now on Grassy Narrows mercury contamination

NDP Environment and Climate Change Critic Peter Tabuns challenged the Liberal government to act on new information about ongoing mercury contamination affecting the English-Wabigoon River system. 

“Once again supporters, scientists, and the Grassy Narrows people have demonstrated that the mercury contamination of the English-Wabigoon River system is not just a shameful toxic legacy but an ongoing issue of mercury contamination of the Grassy Narrows and White Dog territories,” said Tabuns.

Soil samples taken last November in an area behind the Dryden paper mill - the historic site of the mercury release into the Wabigoon River more than forty years ago - show current mercury levels in the soil 80 times greater than what is considered safe. The contaminated soil was found by the conservation group Earthroots in an area suggested by a former mill worker as the likely site of a former mercury dumping ground, 100 kilometres upstream from Grassy Narrows. Previous studies have shown that fish in the Wabigoon have the highest levels of mercury in the province, while 90 percent of residents of Grassy Narrows and White Dog First Nations show the health effects of mercury exposure.         

“The Liberal government may not like the fact that the ongoing legacy of the mercury poisoning of Grassy Narrows has been their responsibility for over a dozen years now, but they can no longer afford to look away and must act now in the face of mounting and overwhelming evidence of an ongoing source of mercury contamination,” said Tabuns. “The fact that this isn’t happening in Toronto-Centre or Willowdale doesn’t make it any less urgent. No more excuses. The Premier and her government needs to clean up the Wabigoon River now so the fish are safe to eat again.”  

NDP: FAO report confirms more Liberal healthcare cuts are coming

Ontario NDP Finance Critic John Vanthof said the latest report by the independent Financial Accountability Office confirms that more Liberal cuts to healthcare are coming. 
“Healthcare in Ontario is at a tipping point. Hospitals and emergency rooms are overcrowded, people are waiting far too long for surgeries, and hospitals are being forced to treat people in hallways that were never designed for patient care,” said Vanthof, MPP for Timiskaming-Cochrane. “These are the results of deep cuts to healthcare, year after year, under this Liberal government.”
According to the FAO, for the Liberals to reach their health sector expense targets, they will have to cut $400 million from healthcare spending this year, $900 million next year, and $1.5 billion dollars in 2018-19.
“Ontarians deserve better. We have to stop the cuts to healthcare in Ontario,” said Vanthof. “We need to make sure hospital funding keeps up with inflation and population growth and the unique needs of communities, each and every year. We have to stop the layoffs of nurses and healthcare workers. And, most importantly, we need a government that actually works for the people of Ontario for a change – and protects the public healthcare that all of us count on.”
The FAO raises serious concerns about the long term sustainability of Ontario’s current standard of care. According to the report, beyond 2019, healthcare cost growth and spending pressure are expected to be more than double the funding growth allowed for in the Liberal plan.
“$2.8 billion in cuts to healthcare isn’t what Premier Wynne promised, and it isn’t what people voted for. Ontarians expected, and deserve something better,” said Vanthof. “New Democrats would make investments in the healthcare system that keep pace with inflation, and with Ontario’s growing population. Ontarians should be able to access the care they need, when they need it. We can make things better; we can give people hope for the future.”

Open Letter from Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath: Premier Wynne must support Toronto’s effort to establish supervised-injection sites

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath sent the following open letter calling on Premier Wynne to support the efforts of Mayor Tory and Toronto City Councillors to establish three life-saving supervised-injection sites. Horwath said that the Province must do its part to reduce the harm of a nationwide overdose crisis by providing immediate funding and letters of support for this vital program.

NDP: Ontarians struggling to find good jobs

NDP Economic Development and Employment Critic Catherine Fife says Ontario’s year-end job numbers confirm what too many Ontarians already know: it’s getting harder to find full-time, secure employment in Ontario.

“From December 2015 to December 2016, 74,000 of the 81,000 jobs created in Ontario were part time jobs,” said Fife. “Families in Ontario are struggling. Trying to piece together a decent income from precarious part-time work is only going to make things worse.”

Horwath visits family struggling to keep up with hydro bills

Today Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath sat down with Sault resident Charlene Lovelace to discuss how the skyrocketing cost of hydro is affecting her family.

“I have been travelling the province listening to people like Charlene for almost two years now.  Hydro bills are skyrocketing all over Ontario and the NDP  has been putting forward real solutions that will address the immediate needs of Ontarians who are finding it harder and harder to build a good life in our province,” said Horwath.  “As elected representatives, we have a responsibility to every single person in this province to work to make life easier, not harder.  Ontario can be a great place to live, but we need to make sure that the next generation has a future here.”

NDP’s Armstrong brings vision and leadership to London-Fanshawe

Current London-Fanshawe MPP Teresa Armstrong has been nominated by the London-Fanshawe NDP riding association to run in the upcoming provincial general election, continuing the hard work she has done in the riding since first being elected in 2011.

“London-Fanshawe is my home,” said Armstrong. “I’m proud to represent this riding, and I look forward to the coming election, and working alongside Andrea Horwath and my NDP colleagues to offer Londoners and Ontarians a better future.”

Armstrong is a well-known community leader in London, with a long history of volunteering with different community organizations and causes. As NDP Critic for Home and Long-Term Care, and Seniors’ Affairs, she has been a champion for vulnerable Ontarians, working to improve the lives of seniors, retirees, and people living with long-term health challenges. In September 2016, a private member’s bill from Armstrong was passed, establishing October as Islamic Heritage Month in Ontario.

“I couldn’t be more proud to have Teresa on our team today, and moving toward the general election,” said Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. “Teresa is a fantastic advocate for her constituents, and a highly respected MPP here at Queen’s Park. She works hard every single day to build a better, fairer Ontario for everyone.” 

“The Wynne Liberals are making it harder to live in Ontario and build a good life, especially for young people, and Patrick Brown’s PCs will only make things worse,” said Armstrong. “Ontario’s New Democrats believe in building a better province, where people have access to the education, healthcare, and good jobs they need and deserve. I’m proud to bring that message here to London-Fanshawe, and to help spread it across the province.”

Open Letter from Andrea Horwath: Review MPAC assessment that threatens cultural hub at 401 Richmond

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath issued the following open letter calling on the Premier to review an MPAC assessment that threatens the future of the cultural hub at 401 Richmond. See attached and below.

December 20, 2016

Office of the Premier 
Main Legislative Building, Queen's Park 
Room 281 Toronto, Ontario 
M7A 1A1
Dear Premier Wynne:
I wanted to make you aware of some issues that have been raised recently concerning the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.
As you know, MPAC is the provincially-controlled, municipally-funded agency that assesses the values of properties in Ontario under the Assessment Act. MPAC and the system of Current Value Assessment for property taxes were introduced by the Ontario PC government in 1997, and have been maintained by your government in largely the same form.
You may have recently read that the future of 401 Richmond, an irreplaceable cultural hub in downtown Toronto, is now in doubt as a result of property tax increases of 85%, following MPAC’s most recent assessment.
The problem is, MPAC does not assess the value of commercial or industrial properties based on their current use, or even based on uses that are allowed under current zoning rules. Instead, 401 Richmond was assessed based on the value of the 30-storey condo tower that MPAC imagines might exist in its place. This is known as the principle of “highest and best use.”
MPAC uses the same principle when assessing the value of Toronto’s heritage properties. Even though these properties theoretically cannot be demolished under Toronto’s heritage rules, MPAC assesses their value as if they had already been knocked down to make room for condo towers.
The Ontario Municipal Board plays a supporting role here when it ignores heritage conservation rules, favouring developers and setting a precedent that is hard to push back against. Former NDP MPP Rosario Marchese, in whose former riding 401 Richmond sits, fought hard to rein in the OMB’s extraordinary ability to rewrite Toronto’s planning and heritage conservation rules while ignoring municipal and provincial statutes, plans and policies.
The destructive combined actions of MPAC and the OMB are block-busting Toronto’s heritage districts and threatening the future of vital cultural hubs like 401 Richmond, and this needs to stop.
It is regrettable that your new Modernizing Ontario's Municipal Legislation Act (Bill 68) does not include MPAC reform within its scope, nor does it include most other financial measures that municipalities have been demanding for years.
401 Richmond and Toronto’s heritage properties however, cannot wait for your next review of municipal finances. They need MPAC reform now. I urge you to immediately take a closer look at MPAC and review its principle of “highest and best use.”
[signed in original]
Andrea Horwath
Leader of the Ontario NDP

Statement by Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath on the Resignation of MPP David Orazietti

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath issued the following statement on the resignation of MPP David Orazietti.

“On behalf of Ontario’s New Democrats, I want to congratulate David Orazietti for more than a decade of public service as the Member of Provincial Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie. While we didn’t always see eye-to-eye on matters of policy, I respect his commitment to his constituents and to his community. We wish David the very best in his future projects.”


New NDP critic portfolios offer leadership Ontarians need

As planning begins for the 2017 legislative session, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has announced new critic portfolios for the NDP caucus at Queen’s Park.

“Our caucus has some of the strongest voices at Queen’s Park,” said Horwath. “Our team is very diverse, and brings a lot of different expertise from across the province to the table. We are aligning our critic portfolios to best make use of that expertise, and offer the kind of leadership Ontarians need in the new year.”

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath letter to Mayor Tory

This morning, Ontario New Democratic Leader Andrea Horwath sent the following letter to Mayor Tory, on the subject of municipal revenue challenges:

Office of the Mayor
City Hall, 2nd Floor
100 Queen St. W.
Toronto ON  M5H 2N2

December 13, 2016

Mayor Tory; 

Like many cities across the province, Toronto is facing very real challenges in terms of maintaining existing infrastructure, and making new investments in important initiatives like transit. I believe the lack of financial support by successive Provincial and Federal governments has contributed significantly to these challenges. 

Bill 41, Patients First Act, fails Ontarians, does nothing to fix broken home care system

NDP Health Critic and MPP for Nickel Belt, France Gélinas expressed her disappointment with the passage of the controversial Bill 41, Patients First Act, which became law on December 8th after it was passed by the majority Liberal government in the Legislature.

“Significant attempts were made by the NDP to have the bill amended to fix home care, and better address the health care concerns of patients and health care practitioners in Ontario. In its current form the act does little to actually put ‘patients first,’” said Gélinas.

The government claims they consulted health care practitioners in the province, but after public committee hearings at the Legislature, it became clear that many key organizations involved in health care delivery in Ontario had not been consulted and held serious concerns about flaws in the legislation.

These flaws could lead to bureaucrats accessing patient’s confidential health records, Local Health Integrated Networks (LHINs) appointing unaccountable supervisors to community agencies, as well as create an opening to further privatization of health care. The bill also fails to improve health care access for First Nations and Francophones. NDP amendments addressing these flaws were voted down by the Liberals. 

Most shocking of all, “Bill 41 was brought forward because our home care system is broken. Nothing in this bill will fix our broken home care system,” emphasized Gélinas. The bill will make the board of the CCAC disappear, but the board was never the problem, and it changes the position of CEO of a CCAC into VP of a LHIN.  Nothing else changes, the poor quality of home care, the long wait list for people needing home care, the rationing of care, the missed appointments- all of that stays the same! 

“Before Bill 41 was passed by the government, my office received hundreds of letters from concerned Ontarians asking us to make sure the bill was changed or completely scrapped. Since Bill 41 became law, we continue to receive letters asking that the law be repealed. Ontarians are extremely concerned and so are New Democrats,” she said.

NDP to Wynne: protect Niagara jobs, delay casino RFP process

Wayne Gates, Ontario NDP MPP for Niagara Falls, rose in question period today to urge the Premier to respect the wishes of Niagara Falls City Council and the Niagara Regional Council as they request a delay in the RFP process for a new casino operator. 

“The way this process works, the focus is on upfront payments to the government and not on economic development, investment, job creation, or job protection,” said Gates. 

The casinos in Niagara are the single biggest employer in the region with more than 4,000 employees; they rely on business from the GTA in order to stay profitable. Local politicians and business leaders have made it clear that unless the RFP is delayed and altered to include economic development, investment, job creation, and job protection, none of the big name casino operators will be submitting a bid.

“The way this RFPQ and RFP process is being run we know that those big name gaming companies aren’t going to bid. If they don’t bid, fewer people will travel from Toronto and that will put 1,500 good jobs in Niagara on the chopping block,” said Gates.  “City Council has passed three unanimous resolutions and the Niagara Regional council recently passed another supporting this process, but they want to make sure that the whole region gets the economic benefit.”

Gates urged the Premier to listen to the local experts and leaders, asking, “will the Premier commit today to delaying the RFP/RFPQ process to allow for it to be re-written giving greater weight to job creation, investment, economic development, and job protection as requested by the City of Niagara Falls and the entire Region of Niagara?”

NDP MPP Gretzky demands Premier make affordable electricity her New Year’s resolution

During the last question period of the fall sitting, Windsor West NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky demanded that the Premier make electricity more affordable and stop the sell-off of Hydro One in the New Year.

“While this government sits idly by and makes excuses, the rising price for electricity continues to make life more difficult for our most vulnerable citizens,” said Gretzky. “The Downtown Mission in Windsor used to serve about 1100 people a month, now they serve 800 a week—it seems this is the only business that expands as hydro prices soar.” 

Gretzky listed a number of businesses, not-for-profits, and charities that are struggling to provide services to clients and residents. She called on the government to do more to help them. 

“While businesses, charities and non-profits are doing all they can, this government continues to make life more difficult,” said Gretzky. “Will the Premier make providing real relief from hydro bills and stopping any further sell-off of Hydro One her New Year’s resolution in 2017?”