I don’t think it’s just my imagination that political cauldrons everywhere appear to be at a rolling boil every time we look.
Without question what is happening south of the border after the recent elections in the USA has been a major distraction. Fortunately for the Wynne government, America’s issues lately have been overshadowing what’s going on right here at home. But, despite a lot of smoke and mirrors the Liberals are employing, the haze is lifting and peoples’ attention is quickly refocusing in on matters that are having direct effect on their daily lives right here in our own province.
As the haze lifts, it is becoming abundantly clear to people that the choices Kathleen Wynne is making are more about what is best for the Liberal party than about what is best for Ontarians. It has taken over a year for the Premier to finally admit the sell-off of the peoples’ Hydro One public utility is a move made simply to eliminate a small portion of the horrendous debt that the Liberals have brought upon us. Ontario’s own watchdog, the Financial Accountability Officer, has repeatedly pointed out that the sale of Hydro One is only about short-term gain and is not in the long-term best interest of the people of this province. This move makes absolutely no sense. Selling off Hydro one is tantamount to burning the living room furniture to heat the house.
Anyone who follows the nightly news can’t help but see that this entire strategy only serves to hurt families all across the province. Too many families are actually facing horrendous real decisions such as choosing to pay their hydro bill or put food on the table. Every day my NDP MPP colleagues and I hear such stories all across the province. No family should be forced into making such decisions.
Unfortunately, this privatization strategy seems to be growing. New Democrats are now concerned about what other public assets Kathleen Wynne plans to sell off next. Recently the Minister of Health has asked TD Bank CEO Ed Clark, the Premier’s Privatization Czar, to calculate the total value of Ontarian’s private health information for the purpose of maximizing the value of these digital health assets for the greatest return, “so that we might better understand the way it might be leveraged going forward.” This is a smoke and mirrors approach to saying they want to privatize more of our healthcare system. Public health care is a core value for Canadians. In the last election the people of this province did not provide the Liberals with a mandate to consider any such changes.
New Democrats are focused on making life better for all Ontarians. As so many of our recent post-secondary school graduates and their parents know, our young people are struggling to make ends meet like no others have in the past. So many are swamped with student debt, the high cost of living and they struggle to find jobs that pay a decent wage. This heavy burden is delaying important milestones for young people such as buying a car, owning a home, starting a family or starting a business. This makes student debt not only a burden for those who carry it, but on the provincial economy as a whole.
As a first step the NDP proposes to remove the interest from Ontario student loans. To kick this initiative off we have launched our, “Fight the Fees” campaign. This is a first step to be taken improve access to a high-quality college and university system by eliminating the financial barriers that our graduates currently face. As well we propose raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. By reducing such debt and providing a decent income, this would allow our graduates to move forward in achieving life’s mile stones and invest in their own independent future. For further information see our website and sign our petition at www.endstudentdebt.ca
Michael Mantha MPP/député