Ontarians deserve a $15 minimum wage: Statement from Ontario NDP Labour Critic Cindy Forster

Cindy Forster, Ontario NDP Labour Critic and MPP for Welland, issued the following statement in response to the announcement made today by the Minister of Labour: 

“Ontarians deserve nothing less than a $15 minimum wage, because someone who goes to work 40 hours each week shouldn’t be struggling below the poverty line. Too many people are working two or more low wage, part-time jobs just to pay their hydro bills and to put food on the table. 

Premier Wynne doesn’t get that families can’t survive on the current minimum wage. Unstable employment is having‎ a devastating impact on women, racialized people and immigrants. Now is the time for a ‎$15 minimum wage for Ontario.”

Skyrocketing hydro costs leave Ontario public libraries in crisis

This morning during question period, NDP Economic Development, Employment, Research and Innovation Critic Catherine Fife outlined the dire position libraries across Ontario are facing as hydro rates continue to rise. 

“We know that our public libraries provide extraordinary value to their communities,” said Fife. “Whether it’s employment skills upgrading or the integration of new Ontarians, or whether it’s providing free space for seniors’ groups or the early development of literacy skills, our public libraries create community across this province.” 

Fife, the MPP for Kitchener-Waterloo, raised the example of libraries in her riding. 

“In Waterloo, our public library hydro bills have been rising, with no end in sight. In fact, I’ve heard first-hand over the last three years that the increase in their hydro bills have been staggering. In 2014-15, Waterloo Public Library’s electricity costs rose by 18 per cent; the following year, by 26 per cent,” said Fife. “Public libraries’ operating budgets are being squeezed and public service is being sacrificed.”

Fife criticized the government for failing to release details of their promised hydro cost reduction plan, and the continued under-funding of public Libraries. 

“Our public library budgets are being compromised because of your out-of-control hydro rates. Your government’s public library operating grants fund less than 5% of library operating budgets,” said Fife. “Rising electricity bills and chronic underfunding have created a crisis for libraries. Out of desperation, Toronto public libraries are now opening without staff. Imagine: libraries without librarians. Why is your government forcing libraries to choose between paying their bills or staffing their libraries?”

NDP MPP calls on premier to stop cuts to vulnerable children and families

Monique Taylor, MPP for Hamilton Mountain and the NDP critic for children and family Services, today called on Premier Kathleen Wynne to stop her Liberal government’s cuts and start strengthening Ontario’s social services that children and families depend on.

“Good health outcomes and success in education are determined, in large measure, by social conditions,” said Taylor.

Wynne government failing seniors in Windsor struggling with hydro bills: MPP Hatfield

During question period Thursday, Percy Hatfield, NDP MPP for Windsor-Tecumseh, demanded answers from the Wynne government for seniors in Windsor struggling to pay their hydro bills.

“I have a constituent.  She’s 67. Her husband is a stroke victim. She’s trying to save money. She got rid of her electric clothes dryer and switched to natural gas.  It only saved her 10 bucks a month. Her most recent hydro bill was for $130 of usage, but more than $100 in delivery charges,” Hatfield said.

MPP Sattler demands Wynne government stop blocking project to help mental health patients

During question period Thursday, Peggy Sattler, London West NDP MPP, demanded the Wynne government stop blocking a project to help thousands of mental health patients in London.

“London health providers and emergency service personnel have been asking for months for the minister of health to approve this project as a pilot, to allow it to go ahead. The minister told the media yesterday that the project is already underway, but in fact, it is being held up on his desk,” Sattler said.

Local NDP MPPs urge minister of education to end Niagara lockout

Today, Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates and Ontario NDP Labour Critic and Welland MPP Cindy Forster called for Premier Kathleen Wynne's education minister to put an immediate end to the Niagara Catholic District School board (NCDSB ) lockout so that thousands of affected school children and their families can get back to the classroom.

“Coming from significant experience at the bargaining table, resorting to a lockout will only have damaging impacts on the students and families caught in the middle of this dispute.  As adults and especially as elected representatives, we serve as role-models to the students. The Liberal minister needs to put an immediate stop to the lockout so our students and teachers can get back to the classroom,” said Gates.

Thousands of students have been affected by the lockout. Over 460 other school boards in the province have reached agreements and NCDSB is one of three that has yet to settle. 

“Let’s not forget that it’s the Liberal government and Premier Wynne’s short-changing education with a flawed funding formula that has been divisive and that has ultimately caused these disruptions. Teachers and students just want to go back to school,” said Forster.

Gates and Forster are calling on the education minister to put an immediate end to the lockout and call both parties back to the bargaining table.

Premier Wynne fails to stand up for Ontarians in federal budget

Ontario NDP Finance Critic John Vanthof issued the following statement:

“Ontarians expected Premier Wynne to stand up for their interests in this federal budget. Instead, just like the recent health accord, Premier Wynne has settled for far less support from Ottawa than what Ontario needs. 

Our province needs stronger funding commitments from the federal government when it comes to affordable housing, infrastructure and transit, more affordable pharmacare, and equitable access to clean drinking water and education for First Nations communities. Ontarians deserve better.”

Precarious work causing stress and sickness for Ontarians: MPP French

During question period today, Oshawa MPP Jennifer French called on Premier Kathleen Wynne to address the damaging effects of precarious work on hardworking Ontarians and release the final report of the Changing Workplaces Review.

“Ontarians are working two and three part-time and piecemeal jobs without knowing when they’ll be scheduled next,” said French. “Job prospects are getting worse, wages are down and the cost of living keeps going up, but the Liberals aren’t willing to alleviate this stress and raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.”

MPP French’s question referenced a recent study commissioned by the Ontario Federation of Labour which found that precarious work environments cause increased stress and sickness for workers in Ontario.

“Hard-working Ontarians are stressed and they are becoming sick over unpredictable work schedules,” said French. “They deserve wages they can count on. They deserve hours that they can rely on, and they deserve schedules they can plan around.” 

Past statements by the government claimed that the report would be released in the spring of 2017.

“Does the Premier have the final report of the Changing Workplaces Review? And if she does, what is she waiting for?”

Premier Wynne allowing privatization of health care through rise of for-profit clinics and services

France Gélinas, NDP health critic, continued Wednesday to press Premier Kathleen Wynne about her choice to allow the growth of private for-profit health clinics and services, while she continues deep cuts to public health care in the province.

“People shouldn’t have to pay up, or wait longer for the health care they need. But that’s exactly what’s happening under this premier,” Gélinas said.  “Companies are charging people to jump to the front of the line.  They're doing it unchecked, on the premier's watch.”

Wynne is allowing people to be charged – and allowing wait times for everyone else to get longer – as private, for-profit health companies are flourishing following Wynne’s deep cuts to Ontario’s public health care system. 

“For-profit companies like Maple are charging people for services like diagnosis and writing prescriptions,” Gélinas said.  “Does the premier believe it's ok for companies to charge Ontarians for seeing a doctor or getting a prescription? 

“If your child is sick, you should not have to reach for your credit card to buy answers.” 

Gélinas said that companies are charging people to see a doctor and to get a diagnosis, asking them to rack up credit card bills. Maple says it charges fees for services like doctor's visits and getting a prescription written because those services are “not covered by OHIP.” 

“Under the Wynne government, parents of a sick child are basically given the choice between paying up, or waiting longer.  And they have to watch while those who pay up, leapfrog ahead of them onto the surgery list,” Gélinas said.

“So when did the Premier decide that people have to choose between paying up – or waiting longer – to get their family the care they need?”

Hospitals’ hydro bills skyrocketing, Liberals admit almost no relief coming

As the NDP revealed documents showing skyrocketing hydro bills in Ontario hospitals, the Liberal government was forced to admit that hospitals will see almost no relief under Premier Kathleen Wynne’s $40-billion borrowing approach.

“Health care is at a tipping point in Ontario," said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. "There have already been frontline workers laid off at many hospitals, and with skyrocketing hydro bills, hospitals are being squeezed tighter. Now, Wynne’s government has admitted that hospitals will see almost no relief from skyrocketing hydro costs under the premier’s scheme.”

According to documents the NDP obtained via access to information laws:

  • Toronto’s University Health Network has seen a $6 million cost hike to its hydro bills, or 39 per cent, over six years
  • Hamilton’s St. Joseph’s Healthcare has seen hydro costs increase by $4.16 million, or 105 per cent, in just six years
  • London Health Sciences Centre has seen hydro costs increase by nearly $2 million, or 29 per cent, even though their consumption dropped over the past six years
  • Toronto’s Sinai Health System is paying $1.45 million more, a 48 per cent increase in five years
  • Toronto East Michael Garron Hospital has seen a $1.3 million hike on its hydro bills, or 67 per cent, in six years
  • Windsor Regional Hospital’s Met Campus has seen a $880,000 hydro bill increase, or 49 per cent, in five years

Although no plan by the Wynne government has been made public, Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault was forced to admit in Question Period on Tuesday that hospitals will only “see a modest reduction between 2 per cent and 4 per cent.”

“Health care workers are doing the best they can, but they're being asked to do more with less by Premier Kathleen Wynne and her Liberal government," said Horwath.  “Wait times are already too long. Staff are already run off their feet. These hydro bills are part of the problem, pushing hospitals to the breaking point. The Liberal approach will do nothing to help our hospitals.”

Horwath has released an NDP plan to cut hydro bills by as much as 30 per cent for all hydro customers, which includes returning Hydro One to public hands – a move that will return an additional $7 billion to the province which can be invested in Ontario services like hospitals. The NDP plan will also offer immediate relief with actions like eliminating time-of-use billing.

The Conservative party has not released a position or plan, but previously supported the selloff of Hydro One.

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@ 07:30 PM
Comedy Night - Kingston and the Islands NDP
Location: Absolute Comedy in Kingston, ON, Canada

Come out on Thursday, March 30, for a night of comedy and fun!

NDP members and friends session starts at 7:30 pm;
Comedy shows start at 8:30 pm, featuring Canadian comedian Fraser Young.

Tickets must be purchased ahead of the showtime, at $15.
Location: Absolute Comedy at 1187 Princess St., Kingston

To purchase tickets, please:
text or call: 613-531-1431