This week MPPs returned to their ridings for constituency week. As I mentioned in last week’s column, I used this opportunity to job shadow the nursing staff at Espanola Regional Health Centre for the annual Take Your MPP to Work Day event. Each year I take time to visit health centers in the riding so that I can get a taste of what it’s like for all of our frontline health care workers. I am once again truly astounded by the care and commitment that these workers bring when they care for our loved ones. Their efforts are valued and to be commended. On behalf of all of us I expressed our thanks.
I also had a wonderful experience on Tuesday when I visited some young constituents in Ms. Rhea Bulloch’s grade 4/5 class at Little Current Public School. Earlier in the year I had learned of a special program the students in her class were involved in called the Genius Hour in which students are encouraged to pursue and explore their own passions and interests. This was a unique opportunity to see how young minds from our own communities are benefiting from innovative new challenges and opportunities provided by our education system. It was most refreshing to observe the children’s decision making skills, knowledge and the level of engagement with politics, even given their youthful experience. It is personally rewarding for me to have many opportunities to interact with our future leaders and decision makers in schools, sporting and public events year round.
In other news, my office has been receiving many calls and letters from constituents who are concerned about the Liberal’s plans for legislation on cap-and-trade and on climate change. New Democrats have always supported initiatives that would serve to protect our environment. All of us want to do our part to reduce greenhouse emissions to save our planet. The difference between the New Democrat and Liberal approaches is that our policies would require the legislation be fair, effective and transparent for all stakeholders and citizens. In response to the Liberal’s Bill 172, New Democrats submitted over 80 pages of amendments with this thought in mind. Furthermore, several of these benefits would have specifically benefitted Northern Ontarians by offering assistance in recognition of the disproportionate burdens we would face in the transition to a low-carbon economy.
As Northerners we do not have equivalent access to the convenient infrastructures readily available in the south such as subsidized subway systems, public transit and trains to get to work, school, shopping, medical appointments and essential services. In addition to this, with higher heating costs here in the north and with so many households living on fixed or lower-incomes, we need to have access to efficient and affordable energy sources. With the sale of Hydro One and the resulting uncertainty of what will happen to hydro costs, remote, rural and northern homeowners would be devastated by skyrocketing heating bills. Upon receiving the proposed amendments from the NDP, the Liberal members promptly voted most of them down. Instead they chose to support a vastly weaker “NDP-inspired” amendment requiring a “low-income lens” when administering the cap-and-trade system and developing the climate change action plan. We’ve seen the effects of similar watered down commitments such as the Liberal’s promise to bring auto insurance rates down by 15% during the last government. Here we go again…
My colleagues and I are committed to ensuring a level playing field for domestic industries and all people of Ontario and will continue to pressure the government to work for the best interest of all Ontarians, not just the government’s corporate friends.
As always, please feel free to contact my office about these issues, or any other provincial matters. You can reach my constituency office by email at [email protected] or by phone at 705-461-9710/1-800-831-1899.