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NDP’s Taylor demands premier restore program funding for children with autism

Monique Taylor, MPP for Hamilton Mountain and NDP critic for children and youth services, demanded that Premier Wynne restore funding to Yes I Can Nursery in Toronto that offers specialized programs for children with autism.

Yes I Can Nursery in Toronto provides programming for children with autism but those programs are now in jeopardy because the government is cutting their funding.

“Your government claims this was ‘one time funding’ but Yes I Can has been receiving this funding for the past nine years. They have built their programs with the understanding they were working toward sustainable funding but, out of the blue, the funding was cut,” said Taylor.

Taylor recounted the story of a single mother who moved house from Brampton to Toronto so that her severely autistic daughter could get the programming she needs at Yes I Can.

“The girl is now in the specialized communication classes at Yes I Can full-time. However, if funding is not restored, those classes could come to an end,” Taylor said.

“Will the premier keep her commitment to children with autism and restore funding to Yes I Can?” demanded Taylor.

Statement by Andrea Horwath on National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

Twenty-seven years ago today, the lives of fourteen women were cut painfully short at l’École Polytechnique in Montreal, in a hateful act of violence against women. 

Ontario’s New Democrats, alongside all Canadians, mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women by mourning and honouring Geneviève Bergeron, Helene Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, and Annie Turcotte. 

Today in Canada, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls reminds us that the threat of violence and death remains all too real for many, especially amongst marginalized populations. And around the world – even close to home – there are those that would strip women of the rights they have struggled to secure in years past.

Ontarians must work together to create a province where women and girls are respected, safe from harm, and given every opportunity to succeed. And we must create a society where victims of violence feel safe, and believed, when they come forward, rather than facing further victimization.

Ontario’s New Democrats are committed to bringing about an end to violence against women, and to ensuring that the victims of violence are supported.

Let’s work together to build an Ontario for everyone – where women and girls are respected, safe, and supported.

 

Metrolinx accountability needs to start at the top after auditor finds systemic failures

After the Auditor General found that Metrolinx continues to pay out contractors for faulty work, the Ontario NDP’s urban transit critic, Cheri DiNovo, demanded the Wynne government show some accountability.

“Metrolinx keeps giving contractors  second, third and fourth chances for faulty work,” DiNovo said.  “In one case, a contractor failed to show up for work for six months, and not only got a second chance, it got 22 more chances. 

Two months ago, Metrolinx Chair Rob Prichard was reappointed for another term as the Chair of the Metrolinx Board of Directors.

“Did the Minister know what was in this Metrolinx audit when he allowed Mr. Prichard another chance as Chair?”

The Minister of Transportation has promised there will be increased accountability at Metrolinx following the Auditor General’s report.

“Yet no one has been held accountable for Presto cost over-runs, the disastrous roll-out of the Union Pearson Express, upside-down bridge trusses, and years of transit planning chaos,” DiNovo said.

 “The Minister has decided that Liberal insiders like Rob Prichard are doing a fine job at providing oversight at Metrolinx.  Public support for transit investment won’t survive more Metrolinx audits like this last one. Public trust depends on accountability, and accountability needs to start at the top.”

“Who does the Minister hold accountable for these failures at Metrolinx that happened on his watch?”  DiNovo asked.

Auditor General agrees with NDP – Hospital overcrowding is hurting health care in Ontario

Hospital overcrowding is the result of Liberal cuts to Ontario’s hospitals, said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, after the Auditor General confirmed that far too many of Ontario’s hospitals are overcrowded. New Democrats first revealed widespread overcrowding in May, based on documents obtained through Freedom of Information requests.

“For months we have been raising concerns about overcrowded hospitals, and for months the government refused to admit there was a problem that needed solving,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath this morning during question period. “Last week the auditor confirmed that 60 per cent of the hospitals in Ontario are overcrowded, and overcrowded hospitals mean more infections and longer wait times.” 

The Auditor General’s 2016 Annual Report confirmed that occupancy rates over 85 per cent result in longer waits for patients and increased risks of infections. Kingston General Hospital has had occupancy rates over 90 per cent for ten straight quarters, from 2013 through to 2015. Across the province, nearly 60 per cent of medicine wards at large community hospitals are reporting occupancy rates over the safe standard of 85 per cent.

According to the Auditor General, “there is much research to show that occupancy rates higher than 85 per cent not only result in longer wait times for hospital beds in acute-care wards, but also increase the risk of transmitting infectious disease” (p. 458). 

At hospitals the Auditor General’s staff visited, investigators “saw patients placed on uncomfortable stretchers or gurneys in hallways and other high-traffic areas that were never designed for patient care” (p. 446).

“This is hallway medicine in Ontario. The government created this problem when they froze hospital funding for four years. And they're making it worse with budgets that still don't keep up with the cost of inflation, never mind population growth,” said Horwath, MPP for Hamilton Centre.

“Will the Premier stop denying that hospitals are overcrowded and stop robbing our healthcare system of the resources it needs?” asked Horwath. “Will the premier stop pretending nothing is wrong, truly put patients first and stop the cuts to hospitals?”

Premier needs to wake up to precarious job reality facing youth in Ontario:

Ontario NDP Finance Critic, Catherine Fife, called on Premier Wynne to raise the minimum wage to $15 as a first step in taking action for young Ontario workers, after a Statistics Canada report found precarious job prospects facing youth who have less full time jobs and earn less today than in the 1980s.

“If young Ontarians can find work, it is often precarious work. It is increasingly difficult for the young people of this province to establish themselves. Life is becoming more unaffordable. Costs are going up and wages are staying flat,” said Fife, MPP for Kitchener-Waterloo.  “When is the government going to wake up to the realities facing young people and make the changes that will allow them to stay and prosper right here in the province of Ontario?”

Today, Statistics Canada released their long-term perspective on the youth labour market. It shows that young Ontarians are less likely to be employed full-time and earn less today than in the 1980s.

“Young Ontarians right across the province are hurting. They are leaving school and not finding work. The youth unemployment rate is higher than 30 per cent in Barrie, 17 per cent in Hamilton, and 16 per cent in London,” said Fife. “To make matters worse, wages are actually declining. According to Stats Canada, young, full-time employees are making less today than they were in the 1980s.  The numbers don’t lie.”

“It’s getting harder to live in Ontario and build a good life for the young people of this province. Will the Premier admit that the status quo isn’t working and take an important step by raising the minimum wage to $15?” asked Fife.

Listen to Ontarians, stop the sell-off of Hydro One

Today during Question Period Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath  said that the Premier must listen to Ontarians who are struggling to pay their rising hydro bills,  and stop the sell-off Hydro One. 

“I don’t think the Premier realizes just how hard life is getting for people across Ontario,” said Horwath.  “Instead of listening, instead of trying to understand what the hydro sell-off means for people, the Premier is burying her head in the sand.” 

Last week Horwath received an email from a senior living in Sault Ste. Marie – though he asked not to be named, he wanted his story shared with the Premier to show her in a tangible way, the effect that the hydro sell-off is having on him.

“This senior uses candles because he’s so worried about the cost of turning on the lights. He told me about the shame he feels feel because he can’t explain to his friends why he can't meet them for coffee, because the hydro bill leaves so little money left over,” said Horwath.  “Nobody in Ontario should have to live with that kind of worry, or feel shame for something that isn’t their fault.”

Horwath also noted that small businesses in her community and across Ontario can’t afford their skyrocketing hydro bills.

“Glow Juicery is a small business in Hamilton that just opened.  Jesse Briscoe, Glow’s owner, is proud of the company she started, but she's worried she might have to close up shop due to the high hydro costs she is incurring,” Horwath noted.

This is what Jesse had to say about the Premier's hydro ‘mistake’: "Okay, you say it's a mistake, what are you actually going to do about it?... Give small businesses a break. Do something. Anything."

“Without action, without showing Ontarians that she is serious when she says she made a mistake on the hydro file and doing something to fix it, the Premier just has no credibility and the people and small businesses of Ontario are left to suffer,” said Horwath.

Statement from NDP leader Andrea Horwath on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Ontario’s New Democrats are pleased to stand with people around the world today, marking the 24th International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

We mark this Day every December 3rd, to promote understanding of the issues facing people with disabilities, and to support and enhance the dignity, rights, and well-being of persons with disabilities.

Despite the good progress that has been made, Ontarians living with disabilities still encounter serious barriers to equal social participation, including ongoing stigmatization, discrimination, and challenges to their basic human rights. One in seven Ontarians lives with a disability, and nearly half of all people living with disabilities are unable to participate in the workforce due to barriers they face. People with disabilities have a fundamental right to access services, employment, and housing; and to enjoy full participation in public life.

Ontario must continue to work to improve employment opportunities and reduce barriers, in order to allow people with disabilities to pursue the careers and lives they wish, and deserve. New Democrats will continue to propose and promote legislation that advances equality and accessibility.

We extend our sincere thanks to the organizations and individuals who advocate tirelessly for the rights of Ontarians living with disabilities.

NDP: Jobs numbers don’t tell the whole story

NDP Energy, Environment and Climate Change Critic Peter Tabuns says new job numbers released this morning only tell a partial story about working life in Ontario.

“While we cautiously welcome improvements in the unemployment rate, people deserve good paying jobs no matter where they live in the province,” said Tabuns this morning at Queen’s Park. “Unfortunately, we see that some regions in our province aren’t doing as well as others. Unemployment is getting worse in places like Ottawa, Kingston, Sudbury, Peterborough, London, Windsor, and Thunder Bay.”

 

NDP election bribery bill passes second vote, raises more questions for Liberals

NDP House Leader Gilles Bisson says successful second reading of his Putting Voters First Act puts the governing Wynne Liberals between a rock and a hard place.

The Act, which would make it illegal to “apply for, accept or agree to accept” a bribe in return for “agreeing to become a candidate, refraining from becoming a candidate or withdrawing his or her candidacy” was introduced in response to prosecution currently underway regarding the 2015 Sudbury by-election.

“It is complete nonsense that it would be illegal to offer a bribe to someone, but not illegal to accept a bribe,” said Bisson, MPP for Timmins-James Bay. “This simple piece of legislation restores some sanity to the Elections Act, and introduces a simple measure of accountability that some members of this legislature would rather not see.”

Two high-ranking Liberal executives are accused of offering “certain benefits, offers or … employment” to candidates in the by-election. While they are now facing bribery charges under the Election Act, Sudbury MPP and Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault is not under investigation because under current legislation it’s not illegal to accept a bribe – only to offer one.

“Obviously the Liberals felt cornered here,” said Bisson after the vote. “No government would vote in favour of allowing political candidates to accept a bribe. But now their hypocrisy is even more blatant: you can’t, in good conscience, vote to ban candidates from accepting bribes while allowing a Minister to retain his portfolio who has done just that.” 

The Crown lawyer prosecuting the case has told media that Thibeault sought benefits in return for his candidacy, but would avoid prosecution under current law.

“Premier Wynne needs to do what is right for the people of Ontario, and for democracy,” said Bisson. “She needs to ask Mr. Thibeault to resign his position in cabinet, at least until the case in Sudbury is resolved.”

While Libs focus on misleading partisan advertising, people in Ontario suffer

Today during question period Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called out the Liberal government for its shockingly poor handling of numerous major government programs, illustrated in this year’s Auditor General report.

“People want to believe in the future of Ontario, but yesterday’s Auditor General’s report shows that the government is making decisions that aren’t about people,” said Horwath.  “People are waiting nearly 40 hours for acute care, they’re waiting longer to see a family doctor and information about wait times for surgery is misleading.”

In addition to the mess that this Liberal government has made of Ontario’s healthcare system, the Auditor took them task for the improper administration of many jobs programs in the Province.

“Half of the people who enter an apprenticeship aren’t finishing and the second career and employment services programs are helping less than 40% of the people who are trying to build a better life with a better job,” noted Horwath.

This government is letting people down. While underfunding by the government means that people are finding it harder to get a job, and waiting longer for healthcare, the government was able to find $20 million for advertising that the AG called “misleading”.

“Can the Acting Premier explain to a person who has spent hours in an emergency ward waiting for a bed, or trying hard to find a new job, why the government is more interested in spending taxpayer dollars on the Liberal reelection campaign, than they are in helping the people of Ontario?” Horwath finished.

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