Last week I had the privilege of joining Lt. Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell in presenting the James Bartleman Indigenous Youth Creative Writing Award to Isaiah Aguonie of Sheguiandah on Manitoulin Island. Isaiah earned this prestigious award for his story about two wolves on a long and treacherous journey to the south side of Moonlight Island. Isaiah is the third Indigenous youth from Algoma-Manitoulin to receive this award during my term as MPP. This remarkable record is evidence proving what talented, resourceful and giving people live in our communities. We congratulate Isaiah on this wonderful achievement.
This week I was on the road visiting communities in the northern part of the riding, holding constituency clinics and attending various other meetings. The Legislature sets aside a week most months for MPPs to tend to matters in their riding. Like many other MPPs, I hold clinics to provide individuals an opportunity to meet with me personally to discuss matters of concern. No appointment is necessary. Clinics are advertised in newspapers in advance and are posted on my website listed below.
Back in Queen’s Park, it seems that once again the Liberal government has ridden roughshod over their promises of transparency and accountability. Each year the government is required to submit a full accounting of public funds within 180 days of the end of the fiscal year. It is expected that the report is to be submitted to the Auditor General (AG)for independent auditing as an outside party to ensure accountability. Bonnie Lysyk, the current AG, and the Ministry of Finance disagree on the reporting of pension information. As a result, according to government figures, the government’s deficit is $3.5 billion. However, according to the auditor general, it should be $5 billion – truly an incredible difference on the bottom line to say the least. As a result of this dispute, neither the AG nor the government is able to sign off on this report. None the less, the Liberal government chose to release the document in its unaudited form to the public without independent verification.
Without question, this decision undermines the legitimate concerns of the Auditor General and shows that, once again, the Premier is prepared to put the needs of the Liberal Party ahead of the needs of Ontario families. Ontarians have every right to be skeptical of the accounting games the Liberals are playing with public accounts. It sets a dangerous precedent to just simply by-pass an Independent officer of the Legislature when a dispute arises.
Also, you may have heard more “privatization” rumblings this week. This time, Liberals seem to be signaling intentions to sell off patient health records. My colleague, MPP France Gélinas, this week announced that Premier Wynne is again using the same “code words” she used just before beginning the privatization of Hydro One. Ms. Gélinas said:
The Liberals are asking Ed Clark, their privatization czar, to help the government ‘maximize the value’ of Ontario’s assets in its digital health system. I have heard those words before; Premier Wynne uses those words when she means privatization. It looks like the Liberals are trying to find a PR-friendly way of saying they want to privatize more of our healthcare system. Ontarians expect their healthcare system to look out for patients, not hand confidential health records to private, for-profit companies.
Speaking of privatization, last week the NDP Leader Andrea Horwath once again tried to stop any further privatization of Hydro One by putting forward anOpposition Day Motion. A full 80% of Ontarians have made it abundantly clear to the Liberals that they don’t want Hydro One to be privatized. Hundreds of municipalities too have spoken against the move. Even the independent Financial Accountability Officer has stated there is absolutely no financial evidence to support the sell-off. But, once again, the Liberals choose to act in favour of what is best for themselves rather than the people of Ontario. It’s more ‘smoke and mirrors’ – ‘now you see it, … now you don’t.”
Clearly, the New Democrats will be following all of these matters very closely in coming days. The priority of our hydro system shouldn’t be generating big profits for investors. It should be to provide affordable electricity that keeps people’s bills as low as possible.
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 or Toll-free 1-800-831-1899.