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NDP: Dishonestly claimed hydro money must be paid back in full

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QUEEN’S PARK – The NDP is demanding that every dollar of the $260 million apparently fraudulently claimed by power producers and paid out by Liberal government regulators be returned to the people of Ontario.

On Tuesday, Ontario families were finally told about a private gas plant in Brampton that was paid over $100 million dollars in ‘inappropriate claims’. On Wednesday, the Auditor General’s 2017 report showed that there are eight other power producers gaming the Liberal electricity system in similar ways – at a cost of $260 million to the people of the province, which may be just the tip of the iceberg.

So far, only $168 million has been recovered. NDP Finance critic John Vanthof questioned the Wynne Liberals Thursday in question period.                                                                      

“People are being squeezed in Ontario. Hydro rates have gone up 300 per cent under the Liberals and some families are even being forced to choose whether to keep the lights on, or put food on the table,” said Vanthof.

“Why is this government allowing private power companies to take advantage of hard working families who are already struggling?”

In addition to the $260 million in apparently fraudulent expenses, the AG found other instances of inappropriate claims being paid by government regulators. The Liberal government is overpaying gas generators by more than $30 million per year, and in just one summer, shelled out an additional $20 million to another company under the Lost Profit Recovery program.

“From the privatization of power generation by the Conservatives to the sell-off of Hydro One by Kathleen Wynne, the system is now set up to turn everyday Ontario families into a cash cow for private energy corporations,” said Vanthof.

Andrea Horwath and the New Democrats have released a detailed hydro plan that would require the electricity system to work in favour of Ontario families. It includes bringing Hydro One back into public hands to lower bills, and keep them down. In their recently announced election platform, the Patrick Brown and the Conservatives make it clear that the Conservative plan is to stand behind Wynne’s disastrous privatization and $40 billion Liberal borrowing scheme.

“Only New Democrats are ready to fix this problem and bring down hydro bills for Ontario families and businesses,” said Vanthof. “Patrick Brown and Kathleen Wynne are in lock-step on hydro, and their plan puts the squeeze on families. The NDP plan is different. It offers hope that things will get easier for families.”

Families paying for Wynne’s hydro failures: Auditor’s report shows families being let down on hydro, health care, housing and more

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QUEEN’S PARK – Kathleen Wynne has allowed private power companies to rip off Ontario families to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, according to Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s scathing 2017 Annual Report, released Wednesday.

“From the privatization of power generation by the Conservatives to the sell-off of Hydro One by Kathleen Wynne, the system is now set up to turn everyday Ontario families into a cash cow for private energy corporations,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. “I think Ontarians will be disgusted to see how many millions of dollars extra they’re are paying for electricity.”

Among the auditor’s findings: IESO programs are paying gas and coal generators $30 million more than necessary each year. One program encourages inefficiency that cost families and businesses $19 million over just one summer. Nine generators collected $260 million they’re not entitled to, more than a third of which was never recovered. These costs are just the tip of the iceberg.

Horwath and the NDP have released a plan to reverse this damage and substantially reduce hydro bills by bringing the electricity system back into public hands, starting with Hydro One. Conservative Patrick Brown recently announced that his party is now on board with Wynne’s hydro schemes – his platform says he would make no changes if elected.

PATIENTS LET DOWN

Lysyk’s report also paints a picture of Ontario patients being let down by Kathleen Wynne.

The Liberals’ privatization of hospitals – so-called public-private partnerships, or P3s – are diverting dollars out of hospital operating budgets, away from patient care. Instead, that money is paying for higher-than-reasonable rates for privatized maintenance costs not covered by the original deal.

And the overpayments continue when it comes to drugs. By failing to negotiate better prices on generic medications, the auditor found the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is paying 85 per cent more than some Ontario hospitals.

Horwath has introduced a complete phARmacare plan – one that will provide drug coverage for every Ontarian, regardless of age, income or job status.

FAMILIES WHO NEED AFFORDABLE HOUSING LET DOWN

The auditor’s annual report also points out that for the first time, the number of people on the wait list for affordable housing exceeds the number of people actually in affordable housing – and 83,000 existing units are at risk of being mothballed.

Kathleen Wynne has refused to fund the province’s share of repairs to affordable housing units. Horwath has promised that if she takes office, the province will fulfill its commitment to a one-third share of funding for affordable and social housing repairs.

WHILE LETTING FAMILIES DOWN, GOVERNMENT SPENDS ON ITS RE-ELECTION BID

According to the Auditor, Kathleen Wynne spent a record $58 million on government advertising – at least one-third of which was on blatantly partisan re-election ads. In 2015, the Wynne Liberals loosened government advertising rules, eliminating the Auditor General’s authority to block partisan ad spending.

“Instead of doing what’s right when it comes to hydro, health care and the services we all count on, Kathleen Wynne is trying to hold on to the premier’s office by spending public money to promote herself and her Liberal party,” said Horwath. “That’s exactly the kind of tactic that has caused millions of people to decide that it’s time for change, and that Wynne has got to go.

“But the question now is: what comes next? Patrick Brown has vowed to cut $6.1 billion in jobs and services. Jobs, nurses, health care services and resources in our children’s classrooms are all at risk with Patrick Brown’s Conservatives.

“It’s time for a plan that gives families hope that it’s going to get easier. A plan to improve services instead of cutting them. A plan to make life more affordable instead of hiking hydro bills. That’s what I’m promising to do, and I’m proud of our plan to make life better for everyday families.”

NDP calls on Wynne Liberals to repay $100M fraudulently tacked onto hydro bills

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Private Brampton gas plant gamed Liberal hydro system

QUEEN’S PARK – A private gas plant in Brampton gamed the Liberal government’s system for managing private electricity contracts, and now the NDP wants to know how Ontario families will be paid back for the $100 million that was passed onto hydro-bill payers as a result.

Over a three-year period, the gas plant collected more than $100 million in what the OEB called “inappropriate expenses” in a report exposing the fraud.

“That $100 million dollars went onto the hydro bills of everyday families,” said NDP MPP John Vanthof during question period Tuesday. “What is the Liberal government doing to repay them?”

The OEB investigation found the majority of the $100-million loss was through the Generation Cost Guarantee program. According to the investigation, the private Brampton gas plant’s manipulation of the program was obvious, and should have been discovered much earlier. Adding insult to injury, the OEB report on the chronic manipulation of the Liberal government’s program was completed almost a year ago, but was only released very quietly on the OEB website in November.

“There should be serious consequences for stealing money from the people of this province – people who are already suffering under the weight of sky-high hydro bills,” said Vanthof. “This $100 million is a massive fraud and the people of Ontario are the victims. Why did the Liberal government keep this information quiet?”

While hydro bills have already been painful for families, Hydro One continues to apply for hikes on hydro bills.

“The bottom line is that everyday families have already paid for these failures of privatization in our hydro system,” said Vanthof. “It’s time for a new plan to give families hope that bills will start going down, instead of continuing to go up.”

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath released a hydro plan in early 2016 which will put Hydro One back in public hands, and reduce everyone’s bills by about 30 per cent. Horwath’s plan ends mandatory time-of-use pricing. Meanwhile, Patrick Brown and the Conservatives recently committed to stand behind every aspect of Kathleen Wynne’s hydro scheme.


Hansard

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LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO

Tuesday 5 December 2017

Energy policies

Mr. John Vanthof: My question is to the Acting Premier. This morning we learned through media reports that a private natural gas plant in Brampton gamed the Liberal government system for managing private electricity contracts. Over a three-year period, the company cost Ontario families and businesses nearly $100 million in what the Ontario Energy Board calls “inappropriate expenses.” That’s $100 million that went onto the hydro bills of everyday families. What is the Liberal government doing to ensure that those families are paid back?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: To the Minister of Economic Development and Growth.

Hon. Brad Duguid: Again, I appreciate the member’s question. It’s tough sometimes when you’re in the third party and the question is asked initially, a response is given and then you have to ask it, but I think it’s important for all of us to pay close attention these kinds of issues.

Look, there’s no defending a company that tries to game the system. It’s totally inappropriate. I think what we need to do is make sure we have structures in place to ensure that we know what happened and why, and that the appropriate measures are taken to recover whatever losses have been had. The IESO has taken those measures, fully investigated the matter. They’ve recovered most of the costs, and in fact, they’ve delivered a $10-million record fine. I think on the surface that appears appropriate to me.

As well, measures have been taken to ensure that this kind of gaming cannot happen again in the future. There’s also a significant restructuring going on, called “market renewal,” that will further address the gaming issue. I thank the member for the question.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary.

Mr. John Vanthof: The Ontario Energy Board investigation notes that majority of the $100 million this company received was through the generation cost guarantee program, a Liberal government program. According to the investigation, the private Brampton gas plant’s manipulation of the program was obvious and should have been discovered much earlier.

There should be serious consequences for stealing money from the people of this province, people who are already suffering under the weight of sky-high hydro bills, so I’ll ask again: How will families be reimbursed for the $100 million that the Liberal government paid to this private gas plant in Brampton?

Hon. Brad Duguid: I agree with the member. There should be serious consequences to any person or any company who tries to gain governments of any type or any organization, for that matter. In this case, there was a $10-million fine levied, a record fine. In this case, as well, in answer to his question, the costs have been recovered so taxpayers have been reimbursed for the majority of the costs.

The matter was fully investigated by the IESO. It did take some time to investigate because, I expect, this is a fairly complex matter. The matter was posted on record, and the fine was posted on the OEB website, which I think is appropriate. As I said, measures have been taken to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

I think the member is quite right to be concerned about this, as we are, as I know the minister is, and it’s an inappropriate action that took place.

I do think, on the surface, what I see so far is the IESO has responded appropriately.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary.

Mr. John Vanthof: This information came to light this morning only after the CBC went digging and found the report, which was completed almost a year ago. There was no fancy press release. This $100 million is a massive fraud and the people of Ontario are the victims. Why did this Liberal government keep this information so quiet and not do a press release, as it does with all other hydro announcements?

Hon. Brad Duguid: Mr. Speaker, the amount recovered, as I said before, is the vast majority of the amount that was lost. In fact, there’s a $10-million fine on top of that. So on the surface it looks as though justice has been done with this company. There is no defending what this company has done. The taxpayer has been reimbursed for the funds, which I think is probably the most important thing.

Also important, Mr. Speaker, is number 1, to ensure that the company does pay a price, and they did, but number 2, to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. I know that the IESO has taken measures to ensure this kind of gaming could not happen again, and I don’t have the details of what those measures are. I know the minister would probably have that.

Also, they’re restructuring the system so this won’t happen again in the new system.

Energy policies

Mr. John Vanthof: Once again, my question is to the Acting Premier. Private gas plants in Ontario are gaming the Liberal system for payments to the tune of $100 million while the Liberal government keeps the information quiet.

They are also standing by while the privatized Hydro One plans to install prepay hydro meters to get around the current ban on wintertime hydro disconnections. Since we know the Liberal government can direct Hydro One to do things that benefit their party, will the Acting Premier direct Hydro One to do something that will actually help the people of Ontario, and stop the private company from using prepay hydro meters?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Minister of Economic Development and Growth.

Hon. Brad Duguid: Mr. Speaker, I think sometimes the NDP, when they get a hold of word, they try to vilify the word. So the word of the week is “prepaid hydro meters,” as though somehow prepaid bills are something that is somehow bad for people.

The fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, the minister has made it very, very clear that nobody will be in any way told that they have to have a prepaid meter. It will be a choice.

There are folks who, in light of budgeting, would prefer to have their bills prepaid. It gives a choice to consumers to be able to do that. There’s nothing untoward; there’s nothing evil. There’s nothing non-transparent about this—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Wrap up, please.

Hon. Brad Duguid: I don’t know why the NDP would want to take away that choice from consumers, Mr. Speaker, to be frank.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary.

Mr. John Vanthof: Speaker, let’s be clear: Prepay meters will hurt vulnerable Ontarians. They take away the option of working out a payment schedule if families get behind on their bills and instead force them to feed the meter or go without heat during the winter.

The Premier and her Liberal government seem quite willing to direct Hydro One’s activities when the result is a benefit to the Liberal Party. Why won’t they do the same when the benefit would be for struggling Ontario families?

Hon. Brad Duguid: It’s just not true, Mr. Speaker. What the member is saying is just completely false. No residential customer will be without power during the winter months regardless of the type of meter used. That’s just a bogus argument—I guess trying again to vilify a word called “prepaid metres.”

Mr. Speaker, there are all kinds of circumstances where consumers will prepay their bills. Sometimes it’s a budgeting issue. Sometimes consumers prefer to do that so that they don’t fall behind or if they’re on a commission-type of salary, to ensure that they have a little bit of room left. Some people even prepay their taxes to governments to ensure that, indeed—it just helps them with their budgeting. It’s a choice for consumers to opt in. Nobody will ever be forced to do this. It’s not evil. There’s nothing that affects vulnerable people in any way about this. It just gives them another option, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary?

Mr. John Vanthof: The Liberal government’s defence of prepaid hydro meters is mind-boggling. Their inability to detect $100-million fraud is beyond belief. The bottom line is that, every day, families are paying for these failures of privatization in our hydro system.

Why is this Liberal government spending its time defending the private electricity system that clearly is not working in the best interests of Ontario families?

Hon. Brad Duguid: It’s a two-part question. We wouldn’t even be talking about this Goreway issue at all if the matter hadn’t been detected so I’m not sure what the member is talking about. He says that the matter hadn’t been detected. If the matter had not been detected then the IESO wouldn’t have launched an investigation. If the matter hadn’t been detected then the IESO would not have recovered the majority of the costs. If the matter hadn’t have been detected then the IESO wouldn’t have registered a $10-million record fine.

What the member is saying, Mr. Speaker—I actually find mind-boggling what that question is. Why would we be talking about this had it not been detected?

NDP MPP Gilles Bisson announces bill to protect Ontario families from gasoline price gouging

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NDP MPP Gilles Bisson announces bill to protect Ontario famili…

NDP MPP Gilles Bisson announces bill to protect Ontario families from gasoline price gouging Cliquez-ici pour la version française: https://www.facebook.com/GillesBissonONDP/videos/1510351799049247/ QUEEN’S PARK –On Friday, Timmins-James Bay NDP MPP Gilles Bisson announced his intention to table a private member’s bill to protect consumers from price gouging by regulating the retail price and wholesale mark-up of petroleum products in Ontario. “Gas companies and refineries have been gouging Ontario families for far too long” said Bisson. “They are currently an unregulated commodity and they can charge us whatever they want. This is just wrong and it needs to end.”On Thursday according to GasBuddy, gas sold for 101.7 in Hagersville while in Thunder Bay it sold for 139.9—that’s almost $0.40 per litre difference. Even within the same regional markets, we are seeing large price swings. Thursday, the price of gas in Timmins was 128.9 while less than 2 hours away on Highway 11, the price in Kapuskasing was 114.6. “The average price of oil has been between $50 and $55 per barrel, yet the retail price of gas per litre does not reflect the barrel price” Bisson stated. “If we can sell a case of beer or a bottle of wine for the same price in Cornwall and Kenora, certainly we should be able to bring fairness in the price of gas.”Bisson’s bill, Fairness in Petroleum Products Pricing Act, 2017, will allow the Ontario Energy Board to regulate the retail price and wholesale mark-up of petroleum products in Ontario. The Lieutenant Governor in Council will be given power to govern the Board. The Bill will guide the Ontario Energy Board and Lieutenant Governor in Council to: protect the interest of consumers with respect to the predictable and consistent retail pricing of petroleum products; prevent pricing practices that undermine the stability and competitiveness of retail markets for petroleum products, including retail markets in remote, rural and northern areas; and ensure transparency and reasonableness with respect to the prices of petroleum products. Bisson plans to introduce this legislation early next week.

Posted by Gilles Bisson, MPP Timmins-James Bay on Friday, November 24, 2017

QUEEN’S PARK –On Friday, Timmins-James Bay NDP MPP Gilles Bisson announced his intention to table a private member’s bill to protect consumers from price gouging by regulating the retail price and wholesale mark-up of petroleum products in Ontario.

“Gas companies and refineries have been gouging Ontario families for far too long,” said Bisson. “They are currently an unregulated commodity and they can charge us whatever they want. This is just wrong and it needs to end.”

On Thursday according to GasBuddy, gas sold for 101.7 in Hagersville while in Thunder Bay it sold for 139.9—that’s almost $0.40 per litre difference. Even within the same regional markets, we are seeing large price swings. Thursday, the price of gas in Timmins was 128.9 while less than 2 hours away on Highway 11, the price in Kapuskasing was 114.6.

“The average price of oil has been between $50 and $55 per barrel, yet the retail price of gas per litre does not reflect the barrel price,” Bisson stated. “If we can sell a case of beer or a bottle of wine for the same price in Cornwall and Kenora, certainly we should be able to bring fairness in the price of gas.”

Bisson’s bill, Fairness in Petroleum Products Pricing Act, 2017, will allow the Ontario Energy Board to regulate the retail price and wholesale mark-up of petroleum products in Ontario. The Lieutenant Governor in Council will be given power to govern the Board. The Bill will guide the Ontario Energy Board and Lieutenant Governor in Council to: protect the interest of consumers with respect to the predictable and consistent retail pricing of petroleum products; prevent pricing practices that undermine the stability and competitiveness of retail markets for petroleum products, including retail markets in remote, rural and northern areas; and ensure transparency and reasonableness with respect to the prices of petroleum products.

Bisson plans to introduce this legislation early next week.

NDP concerned about college students missing licensing exams following strike

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NDP demands Wynne offer better support and compensation for students

QUEEN’S PARK – Kathleen Wynne refused to step in and help end the colleges strike earlier, letting it drag on for five weeks – and for some students, that now means they’ll miss entrance exams.

“We are now learning that because of the extended semester, some students wishing to write their paralegal entrance exam with the Law Society won’t be finished in time for the February exam sitting – putting students behind by at least six months,” said NDP Advanced Education critic Peggy Sattler. “Given the fact that the Liberal government sat on the sidelines for five weeks and did nothing to help prevent or resolve the strike, is the premier working on a solution for these students?”

Sattler said the paralegal licensing exams, scheduled by the Law Society of Upper Canada for February, are just one example of the consequences of the strike for students. The Law Society requires final grades from college students be submitted by Jan. 2 in order for students to write the February exam. But because of the extended semester, some students won’t receive final grades until as late as Jan. 20 – disqualifying them from the February sitting, and delaying their entrance into their chosen field. The next licensing exam sitting is scheduled for July, 2018.

She pointed to co-ops as another area students say they may not be able to make up for the missed time, along with practicums for programs like nursing and police training.

“Kathleen Wynne needs to step up here and help these students,” said Sattler. “Not only are students being forced to cram five weeks of learning into two, and not only are students trying to deal with a financial burden that in many cases exceeds the $500 Student Hardship Fund, but missing these standard exams, co-op placements and practicum hours just adds insult to injury.”

Sattler and Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath have been advocating for increased supports for students after the Wynne Liberals allowed a five-week strike to drag on before passing Conservative-style back-to-work legislation to send faculty back to work without solving any of the problems. Sattler has called for the removal of the $500 cap on the Student Hardship Fund, and criticized the Wynne Liberals for their decision to force students to drop out of college entirely and lose a spot in their program in order to get a refund, if they feel they can’t manage the workload of the condensed semester and want a January fresh start.

“For five weeks, Kathleen Wynne did nothing to help bring about a fair resolution to this strike,” said Sattler. “Now she is not doing enough to help the students hurt by her inaction. The NDP would make sure that every single student in this province has the tools they need to make the semester work – that should include talking to organizations like the Law Society to make sure that the licensing exam is postponed long enough that students won’t be forced to wait until July.”

Hydro One’s plan to have customers pre-pay for electricity will hurt families: NDP

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QUEEN’S PARK—In question period on Tuesday, Ontario NDP Energy critic Peter Tabuns called on the Wynne Liberals to stand up for Ontario families and direct the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to stop the privatized Hydro One’s plan to require pre-payment for power.
 
Hidden in Hydro One’s distribution rate application for 2018-2022 are plans to replace recently installed smart meters with pre-payment meters, requiring customers to pay for electricity before they use it and creating a loophole to new rules banning winter disconnections.
“Instead of reducing its rates, as the government promised would happen, the privatized Hydro One is seeking a 20 per cent increase,” said Tabuns. “But there’s more. On page 2,038 of the application, we learn that Hydro One wants to install pre-payment meters, which require the customer to pay first before they get any electricity.
“Everywhere pre-payment meters have been used, they have hurt struggling families.”
Recently, the OEB issued a directive banning licensed electricity distributors from disconnecting homes for non-payment during winter months, but pre-payment meters would allow Hydro One to bypass this rule. Tabuns said the Liberal government is allowing the privatized Hydro One to use harmful Thatcher-era tactics to bypass the OEB directive and stop providing power to families that are unable to pay.
“After Margaret Thatcher privatized the UK’s water system, utilities began installing these pre-payment meters,” said Tabuns. “They hurt struggling families and created a public health crisis. The premier has hurt families in Ontario by privatizing Hydro One. Hydro One is installing pre-payment hydro meters so it can bypass Ontario’s rules for disconnections. Hydro One won’t have to disconnect anyone. The power will get cut off automatically if the customer doesn’t feed the meter.”
“Will the government direct the Ontario Energy Board to prohibit Hydro One’s use of pre-payment meters?” asked Tabuns.
 
 

Horwath says it’s time to stop letting down agricultural producers, rural Ontario

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TORONTO – Speaking to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s convention on Tuesday, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath promised that an NDP government would do more to strengthen rural communities and ensure agri-businesses have access to the tools and services they need while they work hard to put food on our tables.

“Farmers have always been visionary and forward-thinking,” said Horwath. “In one of the most technologically demanding industries in the world, Ontario’s growers and producers are building the future – but life in rural Ontario has never been easy – and today under the Wynne Liberals, it’s actually getting harder.”

Despite the agri-food sector being one of the fastest growing industries in Ontario, Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals are decreasing their investments in farming and breaking promises to farm families. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has projected a nearly $50 million cut to where spending was at in 2016-2017. Since the 2014 election, Kathleen Wynne has been promising and re-promising money for natural gas expansion – but the money isn’t flowing, and neither is the gas. The Liberals have broken promises on non-crop agriculture insurance, property taxes and the Risk Management Cap, which they have not increased despite lip service on the importance of the issue for farmers.

“Worse than the undelivered promises are the many ways the Wynne Liberals have actively made life harder for rural Ontarians and the agriculture sector,” said Horwath. “Skyrocketing hydro rates, hospital underfunding and 270 school closures, with 300 more on the chopping block right now – that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the many ways in which this government has failed farming families.”

Horwath has committed to making life better for farming families and rural Ontario. She has a plan to lower hydro bills by at least 30 per cent and bring Hydro One back into public hands – so that Ontario has control over our hydro bills again. The NDP has also made commitments to improve hospital care by considering and respecting the unique needs of rural hospitals, and has called for moratorium on any new school closures.

On Tuesday, Horwath again stressed the importance of working with municipalities to expand natural gas infrastructure, and said she’ll continue to push for amendments to climate change legislation. Horwath wants to enable cash rebates of cap-and-trade costs for vulnerable economic sectors, including the agri-food sector.

“New Democrats will protect farmland from developers and we will introduce an Ontario Food Strategy that ensures Ontarians can buy healthy, locally sourced food,” said Horwath. “We will make sure farm families have the community resources and programs they need to live a great life in beautiful rural Ontario. Working together, we can ensure that Ontario’s vibrant farming community has a prosperous, promising future.

Horwath, Sattler say Wynne’s $500 cap on help for students is too low

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QUEEN’S PARK – Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and NDP Education critic MPP Peggy Sattler say the $500 cap Kathleen Wynne has put on the fund to help students recover from the five-week long college faculty strike is too low.

The NDP wants students properly compensated for the personal financial costs of the strike caused by the Liberal government, and also wants colleges to be directed to offer further mental health and academic supports for students dealing with increased anxiety and depression.

“Students were forced to put their lives on hold for five weeks because the premier and her Liberal government sat on their hands and watched the faculty strike escalate,” said Horwath. “Students have paid the price for the premier’s inaction – they paid academically, emotionally and financially. $500 will simply not be enough for many students to recover from the chaos the Liberal government has created.”

While students are relieved to be back in class, for many, the accelerated semester caused by the long strike is not going to work. Half of Ontario’s college students are mature students – and for students with family or job obligations, learning disabilities or for countless other reasons, cramming the work of the missed five weeks into just two additional weeks may not be possible.

“Many students don’t want a compressed semester, they want a fresh start in the new year. They are demanding a full tuition refund so they can get the complete semester they paid for,” said Education critic Peggy Sattler. “The Wynne Liberals announcement this morning suggests that only students who drop out will get a refund. It’s done nothing but create more chaos and confusion for these people who have already been through so much.”

Due to Kathleen Wynne’s underfunding, Ontario’s colleges have the lowest per-student funding in the entire country. The majority of instructors are part-time, contract workers who are underpaid compared those few teachers and professors who have a permanent job. Faculty members often work two or three jobs to make ends meet, and students lose out on the help, support and mentorship their education should come with.

“The chronic underfunding of the college system laid the groundwork for this strike. Wynne’s back-to-work legislation ignores the underlying issues in our broken colleges system,” said Horwath.

Back to work bill to pass by Sunday, NDP forcing debate

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QUEEN’S PARK – Kathleen Wynne can use her majority and pass a Conservative-style back-to-work bill this weekend. The Liberals will pass their bill by Sunday, but the NDP will force Wynne to stay at work this weekend and debate the bill.

Knowing this bill will pass by Sunday, the government has the authority to notify colleges to prepare to get back to work next week.

The Liberals have the procedural tools to pass the bill by Sunday without the unanimous consent of the parties today.

“The NDP does not support anti-worker legislation that leaves a broken system in place – but by doing nothing for five weeks, it’s become clear that’s what Kathleen Wynne wanted all along,” said NDP House Leader Gilles Bisson. “Kathleen Wynne wanted to ram this through Thursday night and go home for the weekend. The NDP will force the parties to return to the house and give this bill, at least, its due diligence and debate.”

Unfortunately, with the back-to-work legislation, issues like student compensation and fixing the structural and funding problems at colleges will go unresolved, although the NDP will raise those issues throughout the weekend.

The government has the ability to pass the bill on the following timeline:

  • First reading: Friday Nov. 17
  • Second reading: Saturday Nov. 18
  • Third and final reading, passage of the bill: Sunday, Nov. 19

The five-week strike was caused by years of underfunding colleges by the Liberal government, which now has the lowest per-student funding in the country.

 

Wynne’s back-to-work legislation fails college students and their instructors

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Queen’s Park – Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath issued the following statement.

“I will not support back to work legislation. I want students back in classrooms Monday, and I want that achieved through a deal. 

It looks like Kathleen Wynne wanted to use anti-worker back-to-work legislation all along. She spent barely an hour at the table today, after doing nothing for five long weeks. 

The reason we’re in this mess to begin with is because Premier Wynne and her Liberal government have failed to properly fund post-secondary education for years, putting Ontario last in Canada when it comes to per-student funding.

The premier has the ability to call the legislature back, and the NDP is prepared to sit through the weekend to debate this move. 

College students across the province missed out on five weeks of class, have been put under financial strain, and have had to put their life plans on hold  because Kathleen Wynne refused to lift a finger to help bring the parties back to the negotiating table. Now that this has become a political problem for the Liberal party, she is ramming through reckless back-to-work legislation. 

New Democrats will not support any legislation that takes away the rights of any workers in this province. Kathleen Wynne is failing both college students and their instructors with her actions today. This does not solve the problem she created.”