Column: Back to Queen’s Park

November 3, 2014

by Jim McDonell

 

As we got back to business at Queen’s Park on October 20th, which was also the last week of our municipal elections campaigns, I was very eager to keep up to date with those running for office, and anxious for the results on October 27th in Cornwall and SD&SG.  There are always a few surprises and this year was no exception as the incumbents squared off against new challengers.  It’s our democratic system at its best and I would like to thank all who put their name forward and endured the seven plus weeks of hard work as they tried to get their message out.  I also want to congratulate those that were successful and look forward to working with them over the next four years.

 

As we settled into our offices, we quickly saw the same old Liberal government practice of saying one thing and doing the opposite.  After hearing election promises of open and transparent government, we had anticipated that Kathleen Wynne would let the Justice Committee hear the three remaining key witnesses in the gas plant scandal.  But sadly, the Liberals repeatedly used their majority to ensure Laura Miller, Dalton McGuinty’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Peter Faist, her friend and computer expert, and Monique Smith, Kathleen Wynne’s transition team chair will not appear to testify.  After introducing Bill 8 – The Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act in early July, it is apparent from their actions that it’s all for show.

 

The Wynne government also used their majority power to limit debate and public consultation on two new bills: Bill 15, Fighting Fraud and Reducing Auto Insurance Rates Act and Bill 18, Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act.  While we support the bills in principle, key stakeholders need to be heard and amendments made to strengthen their impact.

 

The government also rushed the introduction of Bill 10, Child Care Modernization Act in an effort to deflect the severe criticism in the Ombudsman report, “Careless about Childcare,” released the following day.  Experts are warning the bill will increase child care costs by up to 40% and result in the loss of 140,000 daycare spaces.  The private child care providers who supply 70% of the daycare spaces have not been consulted.

 

With this Liberal Government now enjoying a majority, it is essential for opposition members to hold the Government’s feet to the fire on their promises. One promise many local seniors counted on was an increase in the delivery of home care. Instead, many saw their home care reduced or cut altogether. I raised this issue in Question Period, catching the Minister seemingly off-guard. I also highlighted how the Champlain Community Care Access Centre, who manage home care in the region, have more than doubled the number of their employees earning more than $100,000 per year, while cutting clients off. I will continue to fight for our seniors and all Ontarians in need of good, accessible medical care.

 

As we enter the month of November, I look forward to the Remembrance Day ceremonies across the riding.  Once again they take on a special meaning as we remember the events in Ottawa and Quebec.  We have freedoms that are unparalleled in this world and we must stop to reflect and honour the many who have made the sacrifices that allow us to enjoy them.