Few would argue the notion that Ontario has been blessed with an abundance of priceless resources.
We enjoy access to a vast number of beautiful lakes and the fresh water of the Great Lakes, valuable mineral and ore deposits, fertile agricultural land and many thousands of square kilometres of trees. But without any doubt I say that our most precious resource that will see to our health, prosperity and growth is our children. Our children in every way are the key to our future. Truly we must first and foremost see to the safety and care of our children.
Some of you will recall that back in February of this year; fire swept through a foster home near Lindsay, killing 14-year-old Kassy Finbow as well as the caregiver, Andrea Reid. This tragic event raised serious concern among New Democrats the safety of foster and group homes. In the Legislature NDP MPP Monique Taylor reminded the Premier that in the past six months, four aboriginal youth living in group homes in Ontario died. The Nishnawbe Aski Nation, as well as the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth called for inquests. The Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies said that a full understanding of prevention strategies need to be implemented.
Someone needs to stand up to protect these most vulnerable children who are powerless in facing such situations. New Democrats say this government needs to institute mandatory inquests into the deaths of all children in care. When will Kathleen Wynne step up to the plate to do this?
While on the topic of care and protection, I am happy to say that the NDP has been working hard to bring about meaning improvements to our healthcare system. I’m sure you’ve heard the Liberals plan to offer drug coverage for some prescriptions but only for those less than 25 years of age. Recently during question period in the Legislature NDP MPP France Gélinas questioned Premier Wynne on the fairness of the Liberal plan. Why are the Liberals refusing to cover medication for Ontarians over the age of 24?
New Democrats believe that Ontario’s healthcare system is supposed to be based on universal access. The NDP is committed to building a health care system built on the principle that nobody is turned away – just as Tommy Douglas first intended. Recently we announced that a NDP universal pharmacare program would help make sure that Ontarians would no longer have to make that heartbreaking decision each and every month having to choose between paying bills and for much-needed medications.
On another note, our neighbours in the riding of Sault Ste. Marie saw activity in the byelection heating up. On Friday while Andrea Horwath was in town supporting Joe Krmpotich in his campaign, she explained how the Liberal’s decisions about hydro are failing the people of Sault Ste. Marie and Northern Ontario in general. She shared the example of Steve and Lucy Fronzi, local business owners in the Sault who employ over 50 people in their community. They already pay over $10,000 every month for hydro. There is no doubt that if their bills go up any further, they may have to cut back on staff.
Kathleen Wynne’s borrowing scheme will cause hydro bills for people and businesses to soar. Ask yourself why is the premier forcing good, community-minded employers like Steve and Lucy to choose between providing jobs in the Sault or keeping up with ever-rising hydro bills? Liberal hydro policies are killing solid jobs in the Sault and across the province.
Andrea Horwath and the NDP do not support Wynne’s $40 billion borrowing scheme. We refuse to vote for higher hydro bills. In contrast to the Premier’s plan, Ontario’s NDP would reduce hydro rates by up to 30 per cent. It will also end the unfair rural and northern delivery charges. It will end time-of-use fees that punish families for cooking dinner at dinner time And it would bring Hydro One back into public hands. Andrea said that, “Under the NDP plan, Steve and Lucy and business owners across the province will not have to choose between their employees and paying their bills. That’s a choice no employer should be forced to make.”
Michael Mantha MPP/député