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Ford PCs gearing up for sell-offs and privatization

Posted on 03 October 2018 by admin

QUEEN’S PARK – Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath said Wednesday she’s concerned that the Ford government’s recent review of the books is laying the groundwork for the privatization of public assets.

On the heels of Ford’s theatrical pronouncement that the deficit is deep and the province is in need of  cash, this week’s release of a review of the books recommended a “divestiture” and “Alternate Service Delivery” of the Government Business Enterprises – that’s the LCBO, Ontario Power Generation (OPG), and Ontario Lotteries and Gaming (OLG).

“Doug Ford didn’t campaign on selling public assets, and it wasn’t in the throne speech. But yesterday the President of the Treasury Board was happily telling reporters he’s ready to get started,” said Horwath, who raised the issue in question period on Wednesday, and noted that the LCBO is a profitable venture that helps fund Ontario’s health care system and schools.

“The LCBO brings in over $2 billion a year for the people of Ontario, yet the Conservatives’ high-priced consultants now say that they could sell it all for a ‘one-time cash payout,’” said Horwath.

“The last Conservative government never campaigned on selling the 407. But they did it anyway and stuck drivers with the bill – a bill they are still paying. In 2014 the Liberals ran an election campaign insisting they weren’t going to privatize Hydro One. Within months, they were doing exactly that.”

Horwath urged the Ford Tories to abandon any plan they’re cooking up in the back rooms to sell off any further public assets.

“Given the history of disastrous privatization in this province, does this government really believe that a fire sale of public assets makes a lick of sense?” she asked.

 

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Ford sounding deficit alarm to pave the way for cuts: NDP

Posted on 03 October 2018 by admin

QUEEN’S PARK – New Democrats say the Ford Tories’ theatrics over the state of the province’s books are designed to tee up massive cuts to health care, education, and more.

On Tuesday, the government released a hasty review of the books, singling out spending in health care, education, social services, and post-secondary education.

“Doug Ford is setting the stage for deep and painful cuts to our schools, our hospitals and the services we all rely on – and he’s going to claim that the deficit made him do it. No one is falling for his routine,” said NDP Finance Critic Sandy Shaw during question period on Tuesday.

In the wake of the election, the Ford Tories feigned shock over the provincial deficit, despite the Auditor General having consistently revealed the deficit numbers the Tories now pretend to be surprised by.

“The Ministry of Finance says they’re only adopting the auditor’s findings on a ‘provisional basis,’” said Deputy Leader Sara Singh, pointing out that it’s politically convenient for Ford to do so to justify cuts.

Those cuts were also set up last week in a speech to the Economic Club of Canada by Finance Minister Vic Fedeli, who warned that no one would be spared.

“It looks like we’re seeing a pattern here,” said Singh. “The premier is surprised by a deficit that no one else finds surprising. He agrees wholeheartedly with the auditor but only provisionally, and then he reserves the right to lower the deficit using the same method that the Liberals used.”

While signaling that he’s planning to cut health care, Ford has embraced the disastrous Liberal hydro borrowing scheme – a tactic to hide spending that will drive hydro rates through the roof in the near future, and cost the province an extra $40 billion.

With the government announcing a new select committee to investigate the provinces financial practices under the previous Liberal government, the NDP has introduced amendments that would empower the committee to also investigate the new government, while allowing non-government committee members to call witnesses of their own.

“If Mr. Ford is really interested in transparency, he would be interested in getting all of the facts, not just the facts that help his party. Why should families believe him when he refuses to do that?” asked Shaw.

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Carbon pricing will cost Canadians money — it might also give them back plenty more: report

Posted on 29 September 2018 by admin

From 2006 to 2009, Stephen Harper was prime minister, leading a Conservative government that fended off a Liberal Party that hoped to sweep to power in 2008 on the strength of a “Green Shift” that would cut income taxes and put a price on carbon emissions.

All through that time, Mark Cameron worked as a senior policy advisor in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), under a boss who came under heavy criticism internationally for his actions on the climate change file.

Today, Cameron has a new job, as executive director at Canadians for Clean Prosperity, an organization that works to foster political support for “market-based policies that generate growth while conserving our environment.”

It has just released a new report titled, “Carbon Dividends Would Benefit Families.”

And it argues that, far from just costing Canadians money, a federal carbon pricing plan could actually give more cash back to families than they spent in the first place.

The federal government earlier this year passed the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, legislation that puts a national price on fossil fuels.

Some provinces — including Saskatchewan and Ontario — have indicated they won’t go along with it.

For provinces that won’t fall in line, the federal government has said it will bring in a “backstop,” a direct carbon tax for those provinces that will begin at $20 per tonne in January 2019 and then rise by $10 every year before hitting $50 in 2022, the report noted.

Under the act, revenues collected from any backstop would have to return to the provinces or territories they came from.

Provincial or territorial governments could take the money, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna have indicated that it could flow right back to households in those jurisdictions, the report added.

Canadians for Clean Prosperity engaged environmental economist Dave Sawyer to look at how much the backstop would cost households in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario, and how much money families of different income levels would be given back.

The report found that, in almost every case, households that paid carbon taxes under the backstop would take back more money than they paid in.

This is because carbon taxes aren’t just collected from households, but from emissions by industries and businesses.

“The results show that at almost all income levels and for almost all family types, families and households would receive more money back in carbon dividends than they would pay out in carbon taxes or indirect costs,” the report said.

The cost of carbon was analyzed two ways — through the taxes paid by households in energy, and indirect costs associated with non-energy consumption.

Indirect costs were calculated by taking household expenditure data from Statistics Canada and then looking at the greenhouse gas intensity of goods and services.

The analysis found that, even when putting carbon taxes and indirect costs together (this was done by Global News, not the report), households still largely took more money back.

Here’s what the calculations looked like for two provinces, in ranges that captured median total incomes for economic families with children.

Saskatchewan — carbon costs v. benefits, incomes of $100,000 to $150,000

Alberta — carbon costs v. benefits, incomes of $100,000 to $150,000

The returns would be more acute in Saskatchewan, the report noted, than they would be in Ontario.

This became clear when looking at money returned to households per capita.

In the latter, an average Ontario household of 2.6 people would receive $350 per capita next year, while in Saskatchewan, where people use more coal-fired electricity, an average household of 2.5 people would be returned $1,075.

There were variances in how much money households would take back, particularly when looking at their incomes.

The report noted that in Ontario, a household that earned income of over $150,000 would only receive $2 more in carbon dividends than it paid in carbon costs.

However, it also said that lower-income families would receive the biggest benefits, as would families in provinces with more intense emissions, like Saskatchewan and Alberta.

For Sumeet Gulati, a professor of environmental and resource economics at UBC, the numbers looked solid so long as the federal government returns revenues directly.

He thinks that’s the best way for the feds to counter anti-tax sentiments in provinces like Saskatchewan and Ontario.

One omission he identified in the report — the analysis did not consider the increased prices of goods due to carbon taxes applied throughout a supply chain.

While he called that an omission, “I do not consider it a significant one.

 “Finally, I do not think the indirect costs are large enough to change these conclusions.”

As for whether the federal carbon pricing plan could have any effect on emissions, Gulati said it “creates incentives to reduce greenhouse emissions at every level.”

“That is the beauty of per capita lump-sum returns,” he said.

“We still pay a higher price for gasoline or other carbon-based fuels. This keeps the incentives to reduce carbon emissions alive.

“We still drive less, and buy fuel-efficient vehicles in response, but also receive a little more money at the end of the year as a rebate/dividend.”

 

 

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Horwath addresses caucus in Scarborough saying role of Official Opposition more important than ever

Posted on 19 September 2018 by admin

SCARBOROUGH — Andrea Horwath gathered the NDP caucus in Scarborough Friday, delivering a leader’s report in which she said the role of the Official Opposition in Ontario is as critical as it ever has been.

“Doug Ford has attacked the courts. He’s attacked democracy. Now, he’s attacking any person in Ontario who dares to disagree with him,” said Horwath.

“This week has been a stark reminder that the work we do together, with and for the people of Ontario, is more important that ever.”

The NDP caucus meeting in Scarborough comes following a controversial week of sitting of the legislature, called so Doug Ford could reintroduce a bill to meddle in Toronto’s municipal election. Ford’s original bill — written to exact revenge on political foes — was struck down by the court for violating the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In response, Ford reintroduced the bill, but added a suspension of those Charter rights using a notwithstanding clause.

Horwath said it’s up to New Democrats not only to stand up to Ford’s attack on people’s rights; but to push for the legislature to focus on the problems that have been going from bad to worse under Ford — like long waits for health care, neglected schools in need of repair, and job losses.

“Too many families are still facing painfully long wait times for the health care that they need, only to be moved onto a gurney in a hallway rather than a hospital bed,” said Horwath. “So many of our children’s schools need critical repairs, so kids are in sweltering classrooms with no air conditioning on hot days, and will be wearing their winter coats in freezing and drafty classrooms on cold days. Many even have water fountains that kids can’t drink from because of lead in the water. Meanwhile, an astronomical 80,000 jobs were lost in Ontario in August alone.

“But rather than improving health care, fixing crumbling schools or creating jobs, Doug Ford has dragged things backwards — from bad to worse.

“We know it doesn’t have to be this way, and so do the people of Ontario.”

On Friday afternoon, Horwath and the NDP caucus will hold a community event in Scarborough, hearing about the concerns, ideas and priorities from Scarborough residents and community leaders.

 

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Toronto police to no longer offer uniformed officers as crossing guard backfill

Posted on 07 September 2018 by admin

On the first day back to school, Toronto police say they will no longer have uniformed officers help fill in as crossing guards.

The move comes as part of the Action Plan: The Way Forward which was approved in 2017 and recommends transitioning the School Crossing Guard Program to the city of Toronto’s transportation service’s division.

“As part of this transition, starting this school year, TPS will no longer be providing uniform police officers to backfill for a school crossing guard who is not able to come to work,” a statement sent out by police Tuesday morning said.

 “TPS and the City of Toronto have worked together to develop an alternative to backfill absent school crossing guards.”

The statement said Neptune Security Services is taking over as a supporting backfill option for school crossing guards. It said the security guards will undergo the same screening process officers had too as well as the same training. They will also have to carry an identification card and wear a vest that clearly states they are a crossing guard.

The Action Plan: The Way Forward is a modernized policing model for the city that includes 32 recommendations accepted by the Toronto Police Services Board in February 2017.

 

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Conservative MP Maxime Bernier criticizes Trudeau for promoting ‘ever more’ diversity

Posted on 15 August 2018 by admin

OTTAWA—Conservative MP Maxime Bernier is taking issue with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s oft-repeated message of diversity in Canada, calling it a form of “radical multiculturalism.”

In a series of tweets published late Sunday in both French and English, Bernier says he believes promoting too much diversity could have the effect of dividing Canada into ‘little tribes’ that cause division, erode Canada’s identity and destroy what makes it a great country.

 “Having people live among us who reject basic Western values such as freedom, equality, tolerance and openness doesn’t make us strong. People who refuse to integrate into our society and want to live apart in their ghetto don’t make our society strong,” Bernier tweeted.

“Trudeau’s extreme multiculturalism and cult of diversity will divide us into little tribes that have less and less in common, apart from their dependence on government in Ottawa. These tribes become political clienteles to be bought with taxpayers (money) and special privileges.”

Since the 2015 election campaign, Trudeau has championed diversity as a key feature of what makes Canada strong and has repeated that message in many of his public speeches and comments.

On Monday, Bernier posted two more tweets insisting that he’s not against diversity in Canada, but rather “pushing for ever more of it.”

Bernier, who narrowly lost the leadership of the Conservative party last year, has been a vocal critic not only of the Trudeau government but of his own party’s position on supply management and was stripped of his role as an opposition critic in June.

In his latest tweet, Bernier says, “Something infinitely diverse has no core identity and ceases to exist.”

The comments have drawn sharp criticism from several partisans, including Liberal MP Marc Miller, who called on Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer to clarify whether the party supports Bernier’s views.

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel also took issue with Bernier’s comments. In her own series of tweets Sunday, she criticized both Trudeau for his government’s immigration policy and also “those who make claims that Canada is becoming a ghettoized state.”

“From a political perspective, it’s equally easy to say ‘diversity is our strength, #welcometocanada’ as it is to infer Canada’s pluralism has failed, if neither claim is backed up by data or policy,” Rempel wrote.

“I am so bone weary of watching both sides of this debate be watered down into politically correct, puerile, or flat-out wrong arguments just for political expediency’s sake. All of you who engage in this are cowards.”

 

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Ford’s first moves hurt the most vulnerable

Posted on 08 August 2018 by admin

QUEEN’S PARK – Official Opposition leader Andrea Horwath says that Doug Ford’s first actions in government have targeted vulnerable Ontarians.

“Seeing where Mr. Ford’s axe has fallen first, I’m growing more and more concerned about how Mr. Ford’s cuts will impact people’s daily lives,” said Horwath. “He’s targeted kids, those with mental health challenges, and people struggling in poverty. He’s chosen to drag Ontario backwards when it comes to taking care of the most vulnerable among us.”

Since being sworn in, Doug Ford has cut $100 million budgeted for school repairs, cut $330 million per year from funding for mental health services, cancelled the basic income pilot program, and made a 50 per cent cut to the scheduled social assistance rate increase.

“Doug Ford is taking things from bad to worse for people in Ontario – particularly those who are already struggling. Instead of prioritizing the needs of everyday Ontarians, Mr. Ford has is focused on helping insiders – including radical social conservatives that he has obviously made a lot of promises to. Cuts that hurt the most vulnerable among us hurt our province, and it has to stop.”

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Ford’s favours for social conservatives dragging Ontario backwards

Posted on 25 July 2018 by admin

Outdated sex ed curriculum leaves young people, queer youth in danger

QUEEN’S PARK – Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath says Premier Ford’s backroom deals with radical social conservatives are driving his political decisions, not concern for Ontario’s families and youth. During question period Tuesday, Horwath asked if LGBTQ+ youth would see themselves represented in the sex ed curriculum in classrooms this fall. Ford refused to answer.

“Ford’s decision to scrap the updated sexual health curriculum and drag Ontario back to 1998 is not about doing what’s right for students, or about listening to parents. It’s about doing favours for social conservatives, like Charles McVety and Tanya Granic Allen,” said Horwath.

“He is being driven by whatever far-right radical social conservatives want him to do, and the deals he made with them before the election. As a result, Ford is ignoring his responsibility to all of Ontario’s students, all of our young people, and all of our queer youth and LGBTQ families.”

While Ford’s Education minister announced during questions period yesterday that some updated sex ed topics would be kept in place, the Ford Conservatives overruled that later in the day, clarifying that teachers will be forced to use a health curriculum written before the existence of social media, smart phones, or legal same-sex marriage.

“The 1998 curriculum ignores consent, online safety, gender identity, and LGBTQ families. That’s the curriculum that Ford and his radical extremist friends are dragging our kids back to,” said Horwath.

“I have a simple question for the premier: Will same-sex relationships and LGBTQ families be included and reflected in the curriculum this fall? Or does he have to ask permission of radical extremists like Charles McVety and Tanya Granic Allen?”

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Government of Canada providing assistance to Toronto for asylum seeker housing

Posted on 18 July 2018 by admin

Ottawa, ON – Building on previous commitments to support Toronto and other municipalities facing temporary housing pressures, the federal government announced today that it will actively support Toronto through housing support for asylum seekers currently housed in two college dormitories.

With Toronto facing pressure to find housing for this cohort of individuals, in-depth discussion have resulted in strong collaboration between Toronto and the federal government to ensure this matter will be resolved in advance of the early August deadline, when the temporary dormitory housing facilities need to be vacated. Specific details will be forthcoming as plans advance.

The federal government also continues to work closely on the development of contingency plans with its provincial and municipal partners to reduce the pressures the influx of irregular border crossers has had on temporary housing in major cities such as Toronto.

Toronto has a long history of welcoming refugees and newcomers, and in recent months has accommodated many asylum claimants in an already strained shelter system.

Although the number of irregular border crossers in June dropped for the second month in a row, the lowest in the last year, the federal government continues to actively engage with its partners to develop contingency plans in order to support the municipalities in the provision of temporary housing.

On June 1, the Government of Canada pledged an initial $50 million to assist the provinces and municipalities that have borne the majority of costs associated with the recent influx. Of these funds, $11 million will be provided directly to the City of Toronto in the coming weeks. Direct funding was required after the Province of Ontario chose to withdraw from its jurisdictional responsibility around housing.

As part of the contingency planning activities, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and Canada Border Services Agency are increasing their capacity to provide temporary beds for those crossing near Roxham Road in St-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec.

In addition, a contract has been signed with the NAV Centre in Cornwall, Ontario, to provide additional temporary accommodations to asylum seekers should it be required.

These temporary accommodations will allow the government to better manage the flow of asylum seekers, helping reduce the strain placed on municipalities.

 

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NDP critical of which ministries Ford downgrades

Posted on 05 July 2018 by admin

Energy, Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, others to get part-time minister

QUEEN’S PARK –Today’s announcement that Doug Ford has downgraded the Ministry of Energy shows that he has decided to settle for the hydro system the way it is. The Ministry of Energy is now no longer its own portfolio – a decision that raises serious concerns for Ontario families and small businesses as the hot weather brings huge hydro bills and families brace for the coming 70 per cent increase to their bills due to the Wynne/Ford Hydro borrowing scheme.

“Doug Ford’s decision to make the Minister of Energy a part-time job is devastating for families who have been struggling for years to keep up with soaring hydro bills,” said NDP MPP-elect Sara Singh. “This decision shows that Mr. Ford is not planning to tackle the hydro mess that the Liberals left Ontarians in and leaves families who are already squeezed by sky-rocketing hydro bills to worry.

“The other government portfolios Ford is eliminating or collapsing give us all reason to worry about who will be hurt most by Ford’s across-the-board cuts.”

Ministries cut include Citizenship and Immigration and Research, Innovation and Science. Ministries collapsed into other portfolios or being overseen by a minister with other duties as well include, Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Energy, Francophone Affairs, Community and Social Services, Status of Women, Housing, International Trade, and Northern Development and Mines.

The critical files of Children, Community and Social Services, Women’s Issues and Anti-Racism have all been downgraded into a single ministry.

Andrea Horwath and the NDP have committed to be a constructive official Opposition – but to fight hard on people’s behalf when Ford’s cuts impact health care, education, transit and services people rely on, and when Ford’s moves make life more expensive.

The NDP is also highly critical of the decision to eliminate the full-time minister overseeing the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.

In Ontario, dozens of First Nations communities are under boil water advisories or orders, Indigenous communities often have poor access to basics like health care and First Nations schools are disadvantaged and underfunded. Indigenous youth suicide is an epidemic. Downgrading MIRR is a big step backwards – one that makes the future for First Nations and Métis children bleaker.

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