May 26th, 2014

Horwath launches a plan that makes sense for Northerners

THUNDER BAY – NDP Leader Andrea Horwath launched her party’s platform for Northern Ontario, saying Northerner’s want a plan that speaks to their priorities and makes sense. 

 “Voters do not want to re-elect a corrupt Liberal party that wasted billions of tax dollars on scandals to fix their own political problems while Northerners are left to pay skyrocketing electricity prices,” said Horwath.

“Our plan focuses on the priorities that Northerners told us were important to them like: making sure local resources are used to create local jobs, better health care and helping making life more affordable.”
“This election Ontarians have a choice, they don’t have to endorse a corrupt Liberal party or Tim Hudak’s nonsensical plan to add 100,000 people to the unemployment rolls.”
Highlights of the platform include:
· Meet the energy needs of Northern Ontario by exploring options for the Thunder Bay Generating Station.
· Invest in Ring of Fire infrastructure now to create jobs and promote revenue-sharing with communities and First Nations.
· Implement a strong “Buy Ontario” policy to create jobs by taking advantage of transit investment needs.
· Re-instate passenger service for the Northlander
· Invest in forestry and mining industry by rewarding companies that create jobs and make investments with tax credits.
· Get First Nation communities off diesel and connect them to the grid
“For 10 long years the Liberals have put corruption and scandal ahead of the priorities of Northerners, our plan is the only one that respects the priorities of hard working families and will deliver results,” said Horwath.


A Plan that Makes Sense for Northern Ontario


1.       Meet the energy needs of Northern Ontario

The 1.1 billion dollars that the Liberal government wasted on cancelling two gas plants in the Greater Toronto Area resulted in cancelling the twice-promised conversion of the Thunder Bay Generating Station to natural gas. New Democrats will immediately allocate more biomass for the plant to ensure electricity security, so the power doesn’t go out during cold winters. In addition, New Democrats will explore options for the Thunder Bay Generating Station beyond the proposed 5-year plan, taking into account the development of the region. 

2.       Lower electricity bills

We will scrap the HST on hydro, saving families $200 on their bills. Let’s face it, Northerners are being hit hard with skyrocketing hydro bills. We will merge hydro agencies to do away with bloated executive and CEO salaries. We will stop subsidizing the export of electricity, as it makes no sense for someone in Sault Ste. Marie to pay more so businesses in Michigan can get a better rate.

3.       Invest in Ring of Fire infrastructure now

The NDP will create jobs now by accelerating Ring of Fire infrastructure investment and promoting revenue-sharing with communities and First Nations. We will create value-added jobs by ensuring resources are processed in Ontario.

4.       Buy Ontario strategy

New Democrats will implement a strong “Buy Ontario” policy to create jobs by taking advantage of transit investment needs. In 2005, Liberals cancelled longstanding rules that required transit vehicles purchased for Ontario be built in Ontario. This allowed Ottawa to purchase light rail trains from Siemens offshore instead of from Bombardier at Thunder Bay. The NDP will ensure that subways, trains and streetcars are built in Thunder Bay.

5.       Invest in 200 new snow removal vehicles

We don’t want to think about it at this time of year, but in the North we all know winter is never too far away. Road maintenance last winter just didn’t cut it. New Democrats stood up for the North with the creation of the Northern Road Report. The NDP will invest in an additional 200 sand and snow removal vehicles to ensure that roads are safe in the winter.

6.       Commit to widen 60 km of highways across Ontario every year

Transportation is what makes the northern economy work. New Democrats are making an annual commitment of twinning and improving northern highways at a rate of at least 30 km a year. 

7.       Re-instate passenger service for the Northlander

Northerners deserve reliable transportation options. Many families in the Northeast counted on the Northlander to travel to medical appointments and see their families. New Democrats will re-instate passenger service for the Northlander.

8.       Healthcare that makes sense for the North

New Democrats will cut ER wait times in half by hiring more nurse practitioners. We will open 50 new 24-hour family health clinics in underserviced communities. We have an affordable plan to keep seniors in the community by increasing homecare and investing in a caregiver tax credit. 

9.       Invest in the forestry industry

New Democrats will work to rebuild the forest industry. Instead of no-strings-attached corporate tax giveaways that didn’t help the forest industry in its time of need, New Democrats will provide tax credits for companies investing in upgrades and expansions and companies that create jobs. New Democrats will invest in the promotion of Ontario wood.

10.   Keep schools open

Schools are the heart of our communities. New Democrats will introduce an “Open Schools Fund” to help prevent school closures, repurpose underutilized schools, and expand after-hours access for local community groups.

11.   Get First Nation communities off diesel and connect them to the grid

New Democrats will work with First Nations to connect remote communities to the power grid and get them off expensive diesel electricity generation.

12.   Establish a Northern Committee

An Ontario NDP government will establish a Northern Committee in the Legislature composed of all northern MPPs to review any legislation that affects the North.