NDP will bring back Northlander Train and enhance bus service

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Public Transportation in Northern Ontario will be a Priority for an NDP government

When the Liberal Government cancelled the Northlander passenger train in 2012, it ended an era of consistent and available transportation for Northerners. Since that decision was made, there has been no cohesive public transportation in the North.

 Although enhanced bus service was promised to offset the loss of train service, it never happened. The Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) was mandated by the Liberal Government to implement full cost recovery for bus services without subsidy; in response, routes were cut, bus fares were raised and stations closed to meet the ONTC’s targeted financial expectations. ‎

An NDP government under Andrea Horwath will give Northerners the tools they need to re-instate train service and develop a stable, service-oriented rail/bus system that meets the needs of small and large communities throughout the vast geography of Northern Ontario.

Once elected, the NDP will direct a revitalized Ontario Northland Transportation Commission to work with industry, unions, communities and individual citizens on how best to provide proper rail and bus service. Like the GO Transit service in Southern Ontario, the ONTC will be provided with both infrastructure capital and a proper operating subsidy.

It will then be up to Northerners themselves to help decide on how best to:

  • Return passenger train service to North Eastern Ontario
  • Enhance bus service
  • Establish practical rail & bus schedules
  • Identify communities of Interest/Need
  • Utilize equipment resources
  • Enhance freight service, possibly to support a future Ring of Fire
  • Resolve other related issues

QUOTES:

 “The NDP recognizes that a re-designed public transportation system in Northern Ontario needs to be driven by the people who use the services. Under a Liberal government, it was a decision made at Queen’s Park that killed the Northlander. Under an NDP Government, it will be decisions made by Northerners that revitalize our transportation services. There is light at the end of the tunnel and it is a train.” 

– John Vanthof, MPP Timiskaming – Cochrane

“How the Liberals allowed a two-tiered intercity transportation policy that on the one hand provide capital and subsidy to service Southern Communities and left the North to fend for itself by very nature made no sense and was highly unfair. An NDP government will put an end to the two-tiered approach followed by the Liberals, and will treat all regions fairly.”

– Gilles Bisson, MPP Timmins – James Bay


 

Liberal hospital cuts hurt families in northeastern Ontario

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Liberal hospital cuts hurt families in northeastern Ontario

*** Liberal hospital cuts hurt families in northeastern Ontario ***NDP demands action to end overcrowding and bed shortages at hospitals throughout the region QUEEN’S PARK—On Thursday, Timiskaming-Cochrane NDP MPP John Vanthof pushed the Wynne Liberals to stop turning its back on northeastern Ontario families, who continue to struggle to access mental health services and suffer through cancelled surgeries and long ER waits because of overcrowded hospitals. The situation has become so dire that heath care professionals are starting to speak out, including Dr. George Freundlich, who has practiced medicine in Matheson since 1994.“Yesterday in the Timmins Daily Press, Dr. George Freundlich described some of the risks that his patients are facing because of the lack of hospital funding in northeastern Ontario,” said Vanthof. “A child at risk of attempting suicide waited for two weeks at Bingham Memorial Hospital in Matheson because there were no beds in the mental health unit in Timmins. Another patient in Matheson had a broken hip but did not have surgery for several days because there was no beds at Timmins and District Hospital.”“This government has been in power for 14 years, why has it chosen to continue to underfund hospitals and put patients at risk?” asked Vanthof.New Democrats are determined to make sure northeastern Ontario families can count on hospital care. The NDP has committed to hospital funding that, at a minimum, keeps pace with inflation and the unique needs of the region. New Democrats have also called for a moratorium on frontline staff layoffs, and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has laid out a plan to introduce Pharmacare — a drug plan that covers everyone, regardless of age or job status.

Posted by John Vanthof, Timiskaming-Cochrane on Thursday, November 2, 2017

NDP demands action to end overcrowding and bed shortages at hospitals throughout the region

QUEEN’S PARK—On Thursday, Timiskaming-Cochrane NDP MPP John Vanthof pushed the Wynne Liberals to stop turning its back on northeastern Ontario families, who continue to struggle to access mental health services and suffer through cancelled surgeries and long ER waits because of overcrowded hospitals.

The situation has become so dire that heath care professionals are starting to speak out, including Dr. George Freundlich, who has practiced medicine in Matheson since 1994.

“Yesterday in the Timmins Daily Press, Dr. George Freundlich described some of the risks that his patients are facing because of the lack of hospital funding in northeastern Ontario,” said Vanthof.

“A child at risk of attempting suicide waited for two weeks at Bingham Memorial Hospital in Matheson because there were no beds in the mental health unit in Timmins. Another patient in Matheson had a broken hip but did not have surgery for several days because there was no beds at Timmins and District Hospital.”

“This government has been in power for 14 years, why has it chosen to continue to underfund hospitals and put patients at risk?” asked Vanthof.

New Democrats are determined to make sure northeastern Ontario families can count on hospital care. The NDP has committed to hospital funding that, at a minimum, keeps pace with inflation and the unique needs of the region. New Democrats have also called for a moratorium on frontline staff layoffs, and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has laid out a plan to introduce Pharmacare — a drug plan that covers everyone, regardless of age or job status.

Legislative Assembly of Ontario Model Parliament Program 2018 – Applications Wanted!

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***PLEASE SHARE***
Do you know a student in Grades 10-12?

The Legislative Assembly of Ontario is holding its three-day Model Parliament Program for Ontario students in grades 10 to 12 from February 21-23, 2018. This program offers civic minded students a unique opportunity to experience the legislature first-hand.

Visit our website for more information: http://discoveryportal.ontla.on.ca/…/youth…/model-parliament

How to Apply: http://discoveryportal.ontla.on.ca/…/model-parlia…/how-apply#

Should you have any questions please contact modelparliament@ola.org or 416-325-0025.

***Applications accepted until October 30th, 2017***

Brown’s Conservatives stand by Wynne’s hydro scheme as Libs hide costs and emails: NDP

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QUEEN’S PARK – As the Wynne Liberals attempt to hide the costs of their widely criticized hydro borrowing scheme, Conservative Energy critic Todd Smith has confirmed that Patrick Brown would leave Wynne’s costly program in place – one that will leave Ontarians paying billions in interest to private investors for decades to come.

On Tuesday, the Auditor General released a damning report on the Wynne Liberal’s hydro plan, highlighting that Ontario families and businesses will be charged $4 billion extra in order for Wynne to hide the debt her hydro scheme piles on. On Wednesday, when asked by media if a Conservative government would keep the plan in place, Smith said they would.

“The Auditor General has shown that Kathleen Wynne’s hydro scheme will cost Ontarians $40 billion, and part of the plan is to have families pay $4 billion extra for borrowing tricks to hide how bad the plan is. Now the Conservatives have admitted they don’t have any better plan,” said Tabuns. “Patrick Brown and the Conservatives have been dancing around this issue – like every other policy issue. But this week, Todd Smith made clear, in no uncertain terms, that a Conservative government would keep Ontario moving down the disastrous path laid out by Kathleen Wynne.”

Wednesday in committee, Tabuns moved a motion calling for the Liberals to release all emails relating to the borrowing scheme. Liberal committee members used their majority to block the motion. When questioned about the emails Thursday morning, Kathleen Wynne refused to answer, and deferred to Liberal Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault, who offered only well-worn Liberal talking points in response.

“The Wynne Liberals are trying to hide the real costs of this terrible deal, and the Conservatives think this is the right way to run our hydro system,” said Tabuns. “Liberal and Conservative governments created this mess through privatization and deregulation, and now they are going to make things worse with accounting smoke and mirrors. Ontarians deserve better.”

New Democrats have raised alarm bells about the costs of the plan since it was announced, and have called for an end to the privatization of Ontario’s hydro system. Andrea Horwath’s plan maintains the savings – and lays out a better way to lower bills, and keep them low.

“New Democrats have a plan to return Hydro One to public hands, to regain control over skyrocketing hydro prices,” said Tabuns. “The plan will put Ontario families first by lowering hydro bills permanently, and eliminating unfair Time of Use billing practices. New Democrats understand what Ontario families are dealing with. And we know we can make life better.”

Empty Liberal promises leave millions without dental care: NDP

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QUEEN’S PARK – NDP Health critic France Gélinas says the Wynne Liberals are failing up to 3 million Ontarians by failing to provide dental care for low-income adults.

“Community health centres know that in Ontario today up to three million people cannot get the dental care that they need. Why? Because they cannot afford to pay for it and there is no government support to help them,” explained Gélinas.

“The Premier has promised to expand the dental care for low-income adults but she’s making them wait until 2025. No offence, but there’s a good chance she won’t be Premier by then, which basically means that she’s not going to help them. She’s not going to do it.”

Community Health Centre leaders were on hand at Queen’s Park to raise awareness about the issue. Gélinas applauded them for their leadership and advocacy, as she called on the Wynne Liberals to act.

“New Democrats, front-line workers, community health centres: we all know that adult working Ontarians need access to dental care. Yet this Liberal government refuses to make it happen,” said the Nickel Belt MPP.

“People today with a toothache or mouth pain are forced to go to the emergency room. Every nine minutes, someone visits an emergency room, and all they’ll get will be painkillers. Those emergency room visits are not free. They cost Ontario $30 million a year but don’t address the problem.

“My question is simple: Why does the Premier think that she can leave the most vulnerable adult working Ontarians without access to the dental care they need and [make them] wait for another eight years? Why is this Premier refusing to provide dental care to every vulnerable Ontarian who needs it now?”

Wynne allowing private Hydro One to line the pockets of its investors at the expense of families: NDP

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QUEEN’S PARK—During question period Monday, Ontario NDP Energy critic and Toronto—Danforth MPP Peter Tabuns demanded that the $2.6 billion tax benefit given to Hydro One by the government must result in lower electricity costs for Ontario families and businesses, not higher profits for private investors. That’s following an announcement by Hydro One that it will challenge an Ontario Energy Board (OEB) decision in an effort to ensure all that money goes to private investors instead of bill-paying Ontarians.

“Nearly two years ago, the premier gave Hydro One a $2.6-billion tax gift, wiping away the departure tax that became due at the time of sell-off,” said Tabuns. “The rules set by the Ontario Energy Board say that tax benefits like this must go to ratepayers. But instead, Hydro One demanded that its private investors keep the benefit, and not ratepayers.”

Earlier this month, the Ontario Energy Board awarded investors 71 per cent of the $2.6 billion tax gift. ‎Last week, Hydro One announced that it would take the OEB to court to seek the full 100 per cent, leaving nothing for ratepayers.

“Astonishingly, the privatized Hydro One was not satisfied with 71 per cent of that $2.6-billion tax gift from the provincial government,” said Tabuns. “Imagine, Hydro One is actually taking the OEB to court to demand that it gets 100 per cent of that tax gift. Clearly, the privatized Hydro One will not accept regulation by the OEB and will do whatever it can to claim profits for its private investors at ratepayer expense.”

“Will the government stop the privatized Hydro One from extracting another $2.6 billion from ratepayers?” asked Tabuns.

In his response, Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault admitted, “appeals of OEB decisions are not uncommon,” further indicating the unwillingness of private companies to accept government regulation.

By rejecting paid leave, Wynne Liberals leave victims of violence trapped: NDP

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“This morning the Liberal government made it clear they don’t intend to support the NDP’s push for paid leave for victims of intimate partner violence, despite clear evidence that too many women are afraid to escape because they simply cannot afford to,” said Forster during question period.

Forster reminded the Wynne Liberals about testimony they heard this summer during public hearings about labour legislation, which often focused on the financial challenges faced by victims trying to flee their abusers. One speaker told them about the challenges a victim faced, who after fleeing her abuser with her three children and almost no possessions, still had to provide for the children, and make mortgage payments on the home she fled.

“New Democrats have repeatedly called for paid leave for victims who need it. The member from London West introduced two pieces of legislation; your government is stalling them,” said Forster. “New Democrats introduced amendments to Bill 148 during the clause-by-clause [that would provide 10 days paid leave]; the Liberal government voted against those amendments.”

Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government is ignoring the financial reality of victims, says Forster.

“[NDP Leader Andrea Horwath] introduced a bill that would have 10 days’ paid leave for victims of sexual and domestic violence so survivors can actually afford to take a leave, so they can afford to have time off to file police reports, so they can testify and have time off to testify in court proceedings against their abusers. But the Liberal government refuses to support this. Why is that?” asked Forster.

“Why is this government ignoring women who say paid leave will help them escape with their lives?”

Vanthof celebrates Ontario Agriculture Week

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Mr. John Vanthof: On behalf of my NDP colleagues and our leader, Andrea Horwath, it’s an honour to help recognize Agriculture Week in the province of Ontario. For most, I think the purpose of Agriculture Week is to help them stop and recognize the important role that the people who work in agriculture play in this province. There’s over 700,000 people who work in that sector here, which is an incredible number. It’s one of the biggest drivers in the province.

But for me, and I think for many of my NDP colleagues, Agriculture Week is about the cornerstone of the people of the sector, and that’s the farmers. For them, Agriculture Week likely will be about the weather because it’s been a really tough summer. Lots of times there’s toughs, but this has been a really tough summer. Farmers always contend with that, but the last few weeks of our extended summer, while others were talking about the heat and complaining about heat, there was no farmer in Ontario complaining about the heat because those few weeks of extended heat for many people in the agriculture sector saved the summer. It’s incredible how big a difference those couple of weeks of heat made. Farmers are an incredible breed and one I’d like to recognize.

The OFA organized a tour of Beverly Greenhouses this summer. One of the owners, Dale VanderHout, gave us a tour. He was talking about a different management practice they’d implemented. He said, “You know what? The plants just seem happier.” That spoke to me because I’m a farmer. Farmers want their plants and their animals—they want everything to be happy because that’s how they make their living. That’s why they keep fighting with the weather and fighting with the elements.

Lastly, I think we all need to thank the people who continuously do that. Rest assured, the farm families of Ontario will continue to work. They will work tirelessly until the crop is off so that we can all be assured to eat the great food that is grown in Ontario.

NDP: Libs must address hospital overcrowding crisis immediately

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Horwath releases new internal documents showing extent of hospital crowding issues

QUEEN’S PARK – Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath demanded Monday that the Wynne Liberals take immediate action to address the overcrowding and hallway medicine crisis in Ontario’s hospitals.

“Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Mississauga, Etobicoke, Brampton, Sick Kids and six additional hospitals in Toronto are all over capacity and dealing with the need to use ‘unconventional beds’,” said Horwath. “Let’s be clear, unconventional beds mean hallways and broom closets. These people and their families may be having the worst day of their lives – leaving them in a hallway for days is not right. It’s certainly not what’s best for them.”

Citing newly released internal documents obtained by the NDP through Freedom of Information laws that show the extent of the crisis, Horwath said that Wynne must begin undoing some of the damage she has done to our health care system by heeding the call from the Ontario Hospital Association to invest immediately to stave off a more acute crisis this winter. Horwath also called on the Wynne Liberals to match the NDP pledge to ensure that on an ongoing basis, hospitals will be funded at a minimum, to the cost of inflation, population growth and the unique needs of each of Ontario’s communities.

“The last Conservative government fired 6,000 nurses, closed 28 hospitals and slashed over 7,000 hospital beds and the Liberals have cut or frozen hospital budgets for years,” said Horwath. “Wynne is considering re-opening just 150 beds in Toronto that her government shut down. That’s not good enough.”

NDP documents show that acute care beds in the following hospitals were all well above 85 per cent capacity, considered by experts to be the maximum safe capacity, for much of 2017:

  • Trillium Health Partners, 3 Mississauga hospitals – as high as 109 per cent
  • Sick Kids, Toronto – as high as 107 per cent with mental health beds reaching as high as 136 per cent
  • Brampton Civic Hospital, Brampton – as high as 109 per cent with an average 12 ‘unconventional beds’ in use in January and February
  • Etobicoke General Hospital, Etobicoke – as high as 122 per cent
  • Toronto East Michael Garron Hospital, Toronto – as high as 106 per cent
  • University Health Network, 4 Toronto hospitals – as high as 98 per cent
  • Humber River Hospital, Toronto – as high as 97 per cent with 97 ‘unconventional beds’ used just during February

“It has become the new normal to hear horror stories of people waiting for days in emergency rooms and being treated on stretchers in hospital hallways with no privacy or dignity,” said Horwath. “Ontario families deserve better than this. It is possible, we can make sure that every single person in the province gets the health care they need, when and where they need. All we need is the political will.”


Click to read Freedom of Information documents below:

 

Gélinas to Wynne re Hospital Overcrowding Crisis: Flu season is coming, why aren’t we ready?

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Health Critic echoes OHA concern that flu season will throw crowded hospitals into crisis

QUEEN’S PARK – During question period Tuesday, Ontario NDP Health critic MPP France Gélinas questioned the Wynne Liberals about the overcrowding and hallway medicine crisis in Ontario’s hospitals – warning that with the imminent arrival of flu season the crowding will only get worse.

“Premier Wynne shortchanged Ontario’s hospitals by $300 million dollars this year, after years of frozen budgets under her Liberal party and deep cuts by the previous Conservative government,” said Gélinas. “The Ontario Hospital Association has already told the Liberal government that hospitals need immediate investment to be able to deal with flu season – which is just around the corner. Why hasn’t Premier Wynne taken this warning seriously?”

Citing internal documents obtained by the NDP through Freedom of Information laws and released Monday, Gélinas underlined the severity of the situation and called for action from the government to fix the mess that it helped create in our health care system.

“In January 2017, Humber River Hospital in Toronto was forced to admit 94 sick patients to ‘unconventional’ beds – that means sick Ontarians on stretchers in hallways, patient lounges converted to make room for overflow beds, or even people being treated in shower rooms,” said Gélinas. “In February at Humber River, there were 97 people admitted to unconventional beds, in March it was 61 and in April it was 68 sick Ontarians. That’s 320 people forced to receive medical treatment with no privacy, and no dignity. And that’s just at one hospital. It’s unacceptable but the Liberals seem determined to just ignore this crisis.”

The NDP backs the Ontario Hospital Association’s call for immediate funding to prevent a flu-season crowding crisis. Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has also committed to funding hospitals at minimum to the rate of inflation, population growth and to meet the unique needs of rural, small and northern communities. Horwath has also called for moratorium on the firing of any more front line staff, and has announced her party’s intention to implement the country’s first universal pharmacare program so that every Ontarian – regardless of age or income – can afford the medicine their doctor prescribes.