Campbell calls on Premier for coroner’s inquest into the death of Azraya Kokopenace

During Question Period today, Sarah Campbell, NDP MPP for Kenora-Rainy River, demanded the Premier listen to the Kokopenace family, and the Grassy Narrows community, and support their call for a coroner’s inquest into the death of their daughter, Azraya Kokopenace.

“There’s a lot we don’t know about what happened to Azraya: why did the police drop her off at the hospital? And why did she walk away?” Campbell said.  “But what we do know, from her father, is that Azraya needed help. Azraya was involved with the child welfare system, and under the care of the hospital when she went missing.”

“Will the Premier commit to bring the Kokopenace family, and her community of Grassy Narrows, some peace and back their call for a coroner’s inquest?” Campbell said.  

In April, Azraya Kokopenace, a 14-year-old girl, and member of the Grassy Narrows First Nation, walked away from the Lake of the Woods Hospital in Kenora. She was found dead two days later.  

Parental equality now, not later: NDP MPP DiNovo

Ontario NDP LGBTQ critic Cheri DiNovo welcomed the government’s announcement committing to parental equality, but added that there is no need to wait until the fall for legislation to be tabled.

DiNovo has been championing parental equality rights for LGBTQ parents with her Bill 137 Cy and Ruby’s Act (Parental Equality), which passed Second Reading last December with all party support. 

“There is no need to wait. LGBTQ parents have waited long enough. There are babies being born without parental recognition,” said DiNovo. “The government could still pass my bill before Pride."

DiNovo also noted that the government is still fighting families in court.  

“If the government is sincere, they should not be fighting this case. They should settle with the families with a final court order,” said DiNovo.

For a decade now, the courts have told the Ontario government that the province’s parentage legislation is clearly discriminatory. 

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath's Response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath delivered the following response today to the Government of Ontario's apology for brutalities committed for generations at residential schools and the continued harm this abuse has caused to Indigenous cultures, communities, families and individuals.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, Elder Dumont and Elder Charles, Regional Chief Day, President Froh, President Obed, President McMahon, President Dr. Lavell-Harvard, Reverend Wesley and all the indigenous leaders, youth and residential school survivors that have joined us here today. Thank you for being here. Meegwetch.

I want to thank all of the elders, chiefs and guests who are here today in this House on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. There was a time when this House, this province and its institutions were not just complicit but part of authorizing and allowing the most egregious and harmful policies towards First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. For years, governments in this province and in this country did everything they could to ignore and violate the human rights and treaty rights of indigenous peoples, to eliminate cultural practices and to eliminate aboriginal governments, replacing existing forms of aboriginal government and in the process disempowering aboriginal women, who held significant, powerful roles in many First Nations.

Destroy indigenous communities and destroy families. Canada engaged in cultural genocide. As the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Justice Murray Sinclair, writes in the commission’s final report, residential schools are “one of the darkest, most troubling chapters in our nation’s history.” They targeted the most vulnerable people: children. They tried to break the spirit of indigenous peoples, and as Justice Sinclair says, “That any indigenous person survived the culturally crushing experience of the schools is a testament to their resilience and to the determination of those members of their families and communities who struggled to maintain and pass on to them what remain of their diminishing language and traditions.” It is a testament to survivors like Reverend Wesley and to the strength of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples across Canada. And this recognition today in this House is long overdue.

Premier Wynne must commit to safe drinking water for people in 90 First Nations communities: NDP

During Question Period today, France Gélinas, the Ontario NDP’s Aboriginal Affairs critic, demanded to know when the Premier was going to ensure safe drinking water for Ontario’s First Nations people.

“Here in Ontario in 2016, First Nations children are sick because of untreated water,” Gélinas said.  “Does the Premier think that it is acceptable that, after 13 years of Liberal government, First Nation Ontarians in 90 communities still do not have safe drinking water?”

This morning, Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, told the Ontario legislature that 90 First Nations communities in Ontario do not have safe drinking water. In Kashechewan, it contributed to a rash of skin lesions for young children.

Gélinas told the Premier to stop waiting for the federal government and  take responsibility, and action, to begin ensuring that all First Nations people in Ontario have access to safe drinking water.

“Water is a basic human right. The rest of us in Ontario, we take it for granted. But when I asked the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, I’m told that it is a federal responsibility. But you know what? Infrastructure needs in First Nations communities is an Ontario responsibility. We don’t need to pass the buck on that one,” Gélinas said.

“I would like the Premier to tell this House when will First Nation Ontarians, living in 90 First Nation communities—communities like Curve Lake, like Pikangikum, like Shoal Lake 40, like Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug—have safe drinking water?”

NDP calls on Premier for cleanup action plan for Wabigoon River in Grassy Narrows

During Question Period today, Sarah Campbell, MPP for Kenora-Rainy River, called on Premier Wynne for a commitment to clean up mercury contamination of the Wabigoon River in Grassy Narrows, following the release of a new scientific report that says cleanup of the river is possible.

 “Will the Premier commit today to an action plan to clean up the Wabigoon River so that future generations don’t have to grow up poisoned and the community of Grassy Narrows can heal?” Campbell said.

Groups supporting the Grassy Narrows First Nation held a press conference at Queen’s Park today to release an independent study commissioned by the First Nation, that recommends cleaning up the Wabigoon-English River system of the mercury that was dumped there 50 years ago.

NDP caucus honours Ontarians for their work to end racism

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath honoured Ontarians yesterday for their contributions towards eliminating racism in Ontario at the 19th Annual J.S. Woodsworth Awards.

 “Award recipients have demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to human rights, equity and the fight to end racial discrimination. Together, they have worked for the rights of all people in Ontario to live with respect and dignity.  They have made important contributions to the province in their work to eliminate racism, by fighting prejudice and hatred based on colour, race, or ethnic origin,” Horwath said.

The J.S. Woodsworth awards are presented annually to individuals and organizations from across Ontario for significant contributions towards the goal of eliminating racial discrimination in our society. 

Statement by Ontario NDP Education critic Lisa Gretzky on the People for Education’s Annual Report

WINDSOR – Ontario NDP Education critic and the MPP for Windsor-West, Lisa Gretzky, released the following statement in response to People for Education’s Annual Report:

“Today’s report from People for Education highlights major disparities between urban and rural boards in terms of access to specialized supports and services in schools like arts, physical education, and special education.  These findings are not surprising considering that the Liberal government has cut $10 million dollars from the geographic circumstances grant (which helps to keep small rural schools open) over the last two years.

New Democrats believe that all children should be given an equal opportunity to succeed and have access to the same level of services.  Quite simply, where a child lives should not determine the quality of education or supports that they receive. The Liberal government must stop simply talking about investing in education and take concrete steps to ensure that all students receive equitable access to publicly funded education in Ontario.”    

Andrea Horwath welcomes Peggy Nash to Ontario NDP team

Today, Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath announced that former Parkdale High Park Federal MP, Peggy Nash will be joining the Ontario NDP team at Queen’s Park in the role of Senior Policy Advisor, Stakeholder Relations.

“From the House of Commons to Toronto’s High Park, from her time in politics to her time as a leader in the labour movement, Peggy has been a tireless fighter for a vision of a progressive Canada that we all share, a place where no one is left behind,” said Horwath.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to have Peggy join us here at Queen’s Park; her years of experience, her wisdom, tenacity and strength will be a tremendous asset to our already strong team.”

“The Ontario NDP is leading the way on so many issues I care deeply about; the fight for high-quality health care, good jobs you can raise a family on and on stopping the short-sighted selloff of Hydro One. I’m glad to be a part of this team as they build towards electing an NDP government in 2018,” said Nash.

“I can’t wait to get to work at with Andrea at Queen’s Park and in communities across this province,” said Nash.

Peggy Nash was first elected to represent Parkdale-High Park in Parliament in 2006 and served as Finance and Industry Critic. She was a Canadian election observer in South Africa and in Ukraine.

She is a founding member of Equal Voice, a multi-partisan organization that advocates for the election of more women in Canada and also served on the board of Invest Toronto and has long championed affordable housing, urban transit and environmental issues alongside economic development.

NDP MPP Sarah Campbell secures clear timeline for Highway 17 twinning

After years of the Liberal government’s failure to move forward with the long-promised twinning of Highway 17 from the Manitoba border to Kenora, Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell’s motion, that sets clear goals and timelines for this project, passed with unanimous support of the Ontario legislature today.

The motion calls for the expansion and four-lane widening of Highway 17, from the Manitoba border to the City of Kenora by 2020, with the Minister of Transportation to provide updates every 6 months.

“Today we have taken an important step towards the long-standing promise of expanding and twinning Highway 17,” Campbell said.

Liberal government would rather fight LGBTQ families in court than recognize their rights: NDP

Today in the legislature, Ontario NDP LGBTQ critic, Cheri DiNovo, demanded the Liberal government stop forcing LGBTQ families to take the government to court to have their parental rights recognized.

“Last year, my bill, Cy and Ruby’s Act for parental equality, passed second reading with all parties’ support,” said DiNovo, MPP for Parkdale – High Park.  “Since then, the government has stalled on my bill and there are babies being born to LGBTQ parents who are being forced to fight Ontario’s discriminatory system.”

Currently, if LGBTQ couples have a child through a sperm donor or surrogate mother, the non-biological parent is required to adopt the child after it's born.


NDP amendments to Bill 172 -- Liberal Climate Change Plan

The NDP submitted over 80 pages of amendments to make Bill 172 more fair, effective and transparent. 

The Liberal government voted down most of them. They did agree to the following key changes in response to NDP amendments all of these were weakened versions of the actual NDP amendments:

  • Apply a “low-income lens” when administering the cap-and-trade system and developing the climate change action plan
  • Require a report about the report to the Treasury Board assessing the likely impact of proposed climate change initiative
  • Improve transparency concerning the distribution of free allowances
  • Require the Minister to update the Legislature on the status of its climate change action plan every year, instead of every five years

NOTE: while Bill 172 requires the creation of a climate change action plan, it does not specify details such as those that have been recently disclosed by the Globe and Mail.

Statement by Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath on Electoral Finance Reform

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath issued the following statement regarding electoral finance reform:

"We've been clear that it's time to get the influence of big money out of government and politics in Ontario.

However, we are disappointed that the Liberals have chosen to make something as important as changing the rules of our democracy a partisan issue rather than allowing it to move forward with a fast-moving, non-partisan panel led by an independent party like the Chief Electoral Officer with substantive input from the public, academia, labour, business and all major political parties.  

Liberals balancing the budget on the backs of children with autism: NDP

During Question Period today, Monique Taylor, the Ontario NDP’s Children and Youth Services critic, demanded the Liberal government listen to its own expert advisors, and stop trying to save money on the backs of children with autism.

“You can’t claim to be making decisions based on science if you’re ignoring the experts behind the science.   This is about vulnerable children that deserve access to promised life-changing therapy.  It’s time to put them first,” Taylor said.   “This Liberal government needs to stop thinking they know more than clinicians, and listen to experts who are sounding the alarm.”

Liberal cuts won’t fix hospital overcrowding: NDP

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has released new information showing evidence of overcrowding in many Ontario hospitals. Documents obtained by New Democrats through Freedom of Information show acute care beds in hard-hit regional hospitals as well as large urban hospitals are over 100 percent capacity in hospitals across the province – and reveal that the Liberal government has no standards or best-practices for managing hospital occupancy. 

“When Ontarians need health care, it should be there for them. But today, at the same time as many Ontario hospitals are filled to capacity, the Liberals keep cutting hospital services, laying off health care workers, and closing beds,” said Horwath. “It’s clear that health care is the silent crisis of the Wynne government. The Liberals refuse to even admit that hospital overcrowding is a problem in Ontario.”

Wynne Liberals shouldn’t force Torontonians to pay for its Presto transit mistakes: NDP

During Question Period today, NDP transportation critic, Wayne Gates, demanded the Liberal government assure Torontonians that it won’t force them to pay for its transit mistakes, following reports that Metrolinx has asked Ottawa’s OC Transpo to pay 10 per cent of its fare revenue for the use of Presto, five times more than what it currently pays. 

“Negotiations with Metrolinx are always one-sided. Metrolinx and the government can force transit agencies to take whatever deal they want,” Gates said.  “Metrolinx currently charges the TTC five per cent of fare revenue for Presto.  When that agreement runs out, will Metrolinx also demand 10 per cent of the TTC’s fare revenue?” 

Gates said that in 2010, Premier Wynne, who was then the Minister of Transportation, told the TTC to stop shopping around for a better smart card, and stick with Presto. 

“She said the TTC had better take Presto, or else she would cancel funding for Transit City.  She eventually killed Transit City anyway, but only after the TTC had bent to her will and agreed to take Presto,” Gates said.  “This was in spite of problems, cost over-runs and a warning by the Auditor General who said, ‘By the time it is fully developed, Presto will be among the more expensive fare-card systems in the world.’”

Liberal government continues to ignore plight of thousands of vulnerable airport workers

NDP Deputy Leader Jagmeet Singh called on the Liberal government to address the plight of thousands of vulnerable workers in precarious jobs at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

“Airport workers screen passengers for safety, they handle our bags and they refuel our planes. Their work brings in billions of dollars in revenue into the GTA every year, yet employees struggle to make ends meet,” said Singh, MPP for Bramlea-Gore-Malton. 

Toronto Pearson International Airport is the largest transportation hub in Canada and one of the Canada’s largest workplaces with over 4,000 employees, who handle more than 41 million passengers.

While the federal government has responsibility for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, federal labour code only applies to direct employees of the authority – a relatively small group.

“While most believe that employees all work directly for the airport, they actually don’t. In fact, it’s a complicated system of contractors and subcontractors that run the airport. This means that for thousands of employees there is no job security, no sick days, no guarantees in scheduling and, what’s worse, a wage that’s very difficult to live on,” said Singh. 

Premier chooses Liberal Party over public trust in Ontario’s energy sector

Today, the Liberal government voted against an NDP opposition day motion calling for the establishment of a Public Inquiry on the awarding and management of public contracts in the energy industry. Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath tabled the motion for a ‘Charbonneau Commission’-style inquiry in response to widespread concerns that the government is setting energy policy according to what benefits the Liberal Party of Ontario rather than what is best for the families, businesses and industries in the province.

“People deserve to know their government isn’t corrupt, but when they’re facing five police investigations, people start to worry,” said Horwath. “The government should be asking how they can ensure Ontarians have affordable, clean, reliable electricity. Instead they’re asking what the energy system can do for the Ontario Liberal Party.”

Citing the $1.1 billion cancellation of the gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville, the cancelling offshore wind contracts, the sell-off of Hydro One and ‘cash for access’ fundraising, Horwath laid out a pattern of costly, politically-motivated decisions in the energy sector that have eroded the public’s trust in the Premier and her government.

“The Premier said that she would clean things up, but four years later nothing has changed,” said Horwath. “A public inquiry would have cleared the air. Instead she once again chose the Liberal Party over the families and businesses of Ontario.”

Even in the face of legal action, Liberal government remains oblivious to Hamilton stadium construction shortfalls: NDP

Ontario NDP Tourism, Culture and Sport critic, Paul Miller, demanded accountability from Premier Wynne for the fiasco around the construction of Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton.

“Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton was turned over to the city unfinished and nearly a year late last May. The construction of this stadium under the watch of the government’s Infrastructure Ontario turned into, unfortunately, a fiasco,” said Miller, MPP for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek. “Completion and handover was rushed in order to ensure the stadium be used for the Pan Am Games.”

Now, another year has passed and the stadium is still not complete. 

Recently, both the City of Hamilton and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats filed notices of action in the superior court claiming tens of millions of dollars in damages. Both notices include Infrastructure Ontario, which is tasked by the Liberal government to arrange all privatization contracts.