A few weeks ago in News from the Park I made the comment that my calendar seemed to work like a cheap watch that keeps running fast.
This was the final week in which the Legislature sat and the summer recess begins. While I am disappointed that we have to pause from raising issues important to the people of Ontario and holding the Wynne Liberals accountable for their actions and decisions, I am also excited to get back to the riding to meet up with constituents and take in many of the incredible events of summer all across Algoma-Manitoulin. And of course, we have even greater reason to celebrate with this being Canada’s Sesquicentennial Anniversary.
Upon reflection, I can honestly say that this has been one of the most challenging sessions for my NDP colleagues and me as we strove to challenge the Liberals and fight for families and affordability for all Ontarians.
For 14 years, the Liberal government and Kathleen Wynne have made life tougher for Ontarians. She’s made it harder for families to make ends meet and it’s a struggle for too many small businesses to stay afloat. Because of Kathleen Wynne, we are all experiencing crushing hydro bills. The Liberals spent the spring session doing even more damage. The Premier sold off more of Hydro One, privatizing almost 60 per cent of the profitable public company, despite the fact that 80 per cent of Ontarians oppose the selloff. Then she used her majority to ram through a multi-billion-dollar borrowing plan -- aimed at saving her own political hide -- that will cause hydro bills to soar even further as families are forced to pay back billions, plus interest.
What were Patrick Brown’s Conservatives doing this session? Mostly they sat on the sidelines squawking about how awful things are and telling voters to just wait until they release their plans on how to get the province back on an even keel.
In contrast Andrea Horwath and our team of New Democrats proudly presented realistic and comprehensive plans for Ontarians to look to. We says now is the time for big ideas and big plans to deliver lower costs and less stress for Ontarians.
This spring the NDP put forward a comprehensive hydro plan that doesn't rely on borrowing, and lowers bills for Ontarians by up to 30 per cent. We will put Hydro One back into public hands and fix our electricity system which has been broken by private power deals signed by this Liberal government and the Conservatives before them. Our hydro plan will bring immediate and sustained long term relief for people instead of long-term pain and payments. Unlike the Liberal’s plan which will provide short term relief by lowering our hydro bills, and then, as confirmed this week by the independent Financial Accountability Officer, rates will once again shoot up. Then after that get to start paying off that $40 billion loan so that the next generation can be saddled with our expenses.
In addition to the hydro issue, the NDP championed several other major concerns Ontario families are facing. We implored the Liberals to provide necessary funding for hospitals, which Wynne shortchanged again this year by $300 million; we demanded funding for social housing left to crumble by Wynne; we challenged the laggard Liberals to finally ignite the Ring of Fire; and we called on Kathleen Wynne to prevent the closure of any of the 300 schools currently on the chopping block.
To be sure, the fact that the Legislature is in summer recess does not mean that our fight will take some hiatus. That’s why I look forward to meeting up with many of you over the coming weeks when I can hear your concerns and thoughts first hand as I travel all across the riding. I hope we will all have a chance to enjoy some of the best and unique events, opportunities and experiences to be had anywhere in Ontario. As well, I will be hosting blood donor clinics in Elliot Lake on July 18th, Blind River on August 1st and Espanola on August 8th. I really hope to greet many of you there where we have the opportunity make a real difference in this world by giving the gift of life. You can find details on my Facebook page or www.blood.ca
Michael Mantha MPP/député