It’s that time of year again when school children and our high school youth still dream about when ♫“School’s out for summer.”♫
Children will be enjoying the freedom that only summer offers, whiling away the days at local playgrounds, summer camps and beaches all over Ontario. Here in the North many of our kids have the luxury of having wonderful lakes to fish and swim in so close to their home that they can get there weekly or maybe even daily in some cases. It is important for all of us to remember that when they are enjoying this newfound freedom, sometimes they forget about general safety. As parents we need to keep reminding them to wear their helmets when riding bikes or skateboards, lifejackets while boating and watch out for cars. And of course, keep a good supply of sunscreen on hand.
Speaking of our kids, did you know that in Ontario there are only enough child care spaces for 1 in 5 children? Furthermore, did you know that the Liberal government has closed 300 schools, and has another 300 on the chopping block now – some of which housed daycare spaces? In early June the Liberal government announced that they are helping families with children across the province to access child care services by adding more spaces in licensed child care facilities. Taken at face value, this announcement sounds like something long awaited by Ontarians. Unfortunately, things are not always what they are made out to be. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. My colleague, MPP Catherine Fife, the NDP Early Years and Child Care Critic, pointed out recently that this announcement is little more than a publicity stunt by a Liberal government, once again proving they are clearly more concerned about their political fortunes ahead of next year’s election than they are about the urgent needs of families.
In fact, what the Wynne Liberals did was announce a plan to make a plan when it comes to child care. And to us, that’s not good enough. Actually the Liberals are doing is taking credit for years of doing nothing while waiting lists grew and affordable, quality child care became harder to find. After 14 years of Liberal government, Ontarians pay the highest child care fees in the nation. For all those moms and dads deciding whether going to work is even worth it, it’s clear the Liberals just don’t get it. Just how convenient was it that they waited until nearly the end of their term to do something, coincidentally setting them up to play the part of the hero. Why did they make so many families suffer if this was their policy from the start? Parents deserve timely and genuine action to make affordable, quality, licensed child care spaces available right away.
Summer is also a time when Ontarians make that extra effort to take in some top shelf concerts, shows and sports events. And we all know that top shelf equates to top dollar. And how many times have enthusiasts and fans been disappointed in getting tickets to a hot game or show because scalpers have beat them to the punch. Scalpers unfortunately all too often make those top shelf tickets just plain out of reach. Of course, Wynne says she has once again come to the rescue. Forgive me for being skeptical, but again, after 14 years in power, only now does Kathleen Wynne decide it’s time to do something – well at least look like they did something?
Once again, Premier Wynne put her friends first, and fans last, when they changed the Ticket Speculation Act back in 2015. Since then Ontarians have had to fight a losing battle for concert tickets against ‘scalper bots’ and online re-sellers who jack up the price way above the face value of a ticket. With their recent announcement the Liberals are trying to take credit for fixing a problem that they created in the first place. New Democrats will closely review this proposed legislation and make sure that fans don’t get left behind again by this Liberal government.
For now, however, let’s do like our kids and make the most of all we have right here in our own back yards. Algoma-Manitoulin has some of the very best live concerts, festivals, natural outdoor activities, sights, sounds and tastes. I truly hope to meet many of you as I plan to make the most of this summer and take in all that I can. You’ll often hear me in the Legislature inviting everyone to come and enjoy some of the good life here in Algoma-Manitoulin. See you on the road.
Michael Mantha MPP/député