Official Opposition lays out priorities for upcoming legislative session
QUEEN’S PARK — Ontario’s Official Opposition New Democrats says fighting for action to confront the province’s exploding health care crisis will be its top priority when the legislature returns Oct. 25.
Ford left the crisis to rage on and worsen when he shut down the legislature, and in the weeks since, the warning signals coming out of hospitals have only gotten louder.
“Children’s ICUs have hit capacity and sick kids are being transferred to hospitals far from home. Hallway medicine is back with a vengeance, which is sending patients into spaces like gyms, and wait times are through the roof. Rural communities are grappling with weeks-long emergency department closures,” said Interim Ontario NDP Leader Peter Tabuns. “I shudder to think just how bad the crisis in Ontario’s hospitals could get as we approach flu season, if the government keeps pouring fuel on the fire and refusing to take the actions we know could help."
“We should be giving health care workers competitive benefits and wages and helping internationally trained professionals onto the frontlines, not driving them away with wage-capping legislation,” said NDP Deputy Leader Doly Begum. “We should we be investing in our public health care system, including using Ontario’s $2.1-billion surplus to help shore up staffing, not diverting funding to for-profit private clinics.”
Not only has the Ford government been fanning the flames of the staffing crisis in health care, but it appears determined to hold back the wages of education workers and let the staffing crisis spill over into Ontario’s schools, too.
“Children in Ontario are paying dearly for Doug Ford’s agenda of cuts to public education,” said Begum. “The government has to stop chasing education workers away by freezing their wages below inflation — they’re the caring adults in our classrooms helping our little ones, and the people who drive our kids to school by bus.”
In addition to fighting for urgent investments in education and health care, the Official Opposition is urging the government to address the skyrocketing cost of living. The Consumer Price Index for September 2022 showed food prices up 10.4 per cent year over year in Ontario. Natural gas rates, which have close to doubled in the last year, went up again Oct. 1.
“The skyrocketing cost of everything is squeezing family budgets — from groceries and heating bills to mortgages and rent,” said NDP Housing critic Jessica Bell. “We should be doubling ODSP and OW rates. We should be cracking down on greedy corporations that are raking in profits hand over fist under the guise of inflation. And we should be rolling out a comprehensive plan to deliver homes people can afford.”
The NDP put forward a comprehensive housing plan that includes bringing back real rent control, cracking down on speculators who drive up home prices, and paving the way for missing middle housing like townhomes.