Air quality at risk as Libs fail to enforce pollution standards: NDP

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says the Wynne Liberals owe Hamilton residents an explanation – and action – after a toxic steam cloud was released by a steel mill recently.

“Over the Thanksgiving weekend, a toxic and foul-smelling cloud was emitted from the ArcelorMittal Dofasco site in Hamilton, sending a dark plume over the surrounding neighbourhoods as families were trying to enjoy their holidays. This is the latest example of what is known in the steel industry as a process called ‘coffining,’” explained Horwath, the MPP for Hamilton-Centre this morning during question period.

The same facility failed to meet air pollution compliance standards for 2017, but the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change granted an extension to the operator instead of forcing them to bring operations in to compliance. A nearby steel facility not only meets the 2017 standards, but actually exceeds standards set to come in to place in 2020.

Horwath’s question followed up on a letter she sent to the Minister this morning (see attached).

“When the minister selectively enforces the rules for emitters, it’s not fair to businesses that follow the rules,” said Horwath.

She urged the minister to address the problem in person.

“Will the minister come to Hamilton himself, and will he meet with Environment Hamilton, with community groups, with businesses, with city councillors, local MPPs and other stakeholders to figure out how to put an end to these coffining events once and for all?”

LETTER (pdf)


Horwath demands to know when Wynne learned of toxic Chemical Valley spills

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is demanding to know when Kathleen Wynne learned about the unending series of toxic chemical leaks in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley, and why she and the Liberals took no action when a plume of toxic benzene was released into a residential neighbourhood.

“The premier must explain why the people of Sarnia were not warned by the Ministry of the Environment about a cancer-causing chemical wafting toward their front doors and why they didn’t send an investigator in after the spill to figure out what went wrong,” Horwath said Monday during the legislature’s question period.

According to media reports, over 500 spills or leaks occurred in Sarnia during 2014 and 2015. The city’s spill warning system was used only once during that time, and on repeated occasions, the ministry failed to investigate the source or cause of the leaks.


Horwath: Niagara children face alarming wait times for mental health services

Ontario NDP Leader calling for a standalone Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions

Today, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath met with the Pathstone Mental Health team at the Branscombe Mental Health Centre in St. Catharines, and renewed her commitment fix Ontario’s fractured mental health system after hearing about alarmingly long wait times for children in need of mental health care.

“The administrators and staff I met with today see too many people requiring urgent mental health services left languishing on waiting lists,” said Horwath. “Niagara families feel abandoned by a government that forces their kids to wait nearly a year for the services they need to thrive. And Pathstone staff are run off their feet as they cope with a Liberal government that hasn’t increased their base funding in a decade, even as needs continue to rise.”

Horwath toured the Branscombe Mental Health Centre before sitting down with Pathstone Mental Health staff and administration earlier today.

“Mental health services in the Niagara region need more resources, more funding and more attention,” said Horwath. “New Democrats are ready to deliver by making mental health and addiction services a real priority. We are committed to creating a standalone Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction services.”

In 2010, the Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions recommended the creation of Mental Health and Addictions Ontario, but seven years later these services remain scattered across 11 different Ministries. Last month, an NDP bill to create a standalone Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions passed a crucial vote in the legislative assembly, despite opposition from the governing Wynne Liberals. The NDP Bill lays out 13 duties and functions of the new Ministry, including building a co-ordinated mental health and addictions system and eliminating wait lists for services.

“Niagara children with mental health needs cannot continue to be treated as an afterthought,” said Horwath. “It’s time to give them the care they need, without the wait.”



Wynne Liberals keep refusing to make changes to help Sears workers

Oshawa NDP MPP Jennifer French released the following statement in response to the Sears Canada proposal to close all Canadian stores and lay off approximately 12,000 employees:

“The news of Sears Canada’s closure is the latest in a series of blows to workers and pensioners at Sears Canada. Thousands of families find themselves out of work, struggling to get by without severance and at risk of losing their pension. Hardworking families in my community of Oshawa and communities throughout Ontario have had their world turned upside down, only to be let down by their government when they need it most.

It simply shouldn’t be this way—pension obligations should be a priority during bankruptcy proceedings, but the Wynne Liberals continue to treat pensioners as an afterthought.

Last year the Wynne government supported my motion to ensure the benefits owed to pensioners are given priority ahead of large corporations, banks and creditors when a company files for bankruptcy, but has since turned its back on this commitment, letting down Sears employees and former employees, and all workers throughout Ontario.

Ontario families should get every penny of what is owed to them. That’s why New Democrats will continue to partner with workers and call for any revenue from liquidation sales to fund Sears’ employees’ pensions first, not more executive bonuses. And we’ll continue to fight for laws that make this the case for all workers.

Now, more than ever, Sears Canada employees and workers throughout Ontario need a government that is ready and willing to prioritize working people and pensioners.”


Statement from Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath on departures of Matthews, Sandals

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath issued the following statement regarding announcements by two more of Kathleen Wynne’s cabinet ministers that they will not be running for re-election in 2018:

“I’d like to thank both President of the Treasury Board Liz Sandals and Deputy Premier Deb Matthews for their years of public service.

On behalf of the Ontario NDP MPPs and New Democrats across the province, I’d like to wish Minister Sandals and Deputy Premier Matthews all the best in whatever they take on next. 

I also send our thanks to the families of these two women. Those in public service benefit from the support and sacrifice of loved ones, and I hope that Minister Sandals and Deputy Premier Matthews find the years after they leave Queen’s Park filled with friends and family”



Wynne plays politics with women’s choice

Oshawa MPP Jennifer French released the following statement calling on Kathleen Wynne to apologize for playing politics with women’s choice:
“Today, Ontario’s three political parties had an opportunity to create legal and mandatory Safe Zones around clinics and hospitals that offer women’s health care including medical abortions, keeping women safe from harassment, intimidation or coercion. It didn’t happen because the Wynne Liberals and Patrick Brown Conservatives chose, instead, to play politics with women’s rights.
Wynne and the Liberals tabled this bill, only to pull back their support and stall the bill when the house offered to pass it today. Wynne’s team seems to have decided that if she can’t score political points against her opponents, she’s not interested in protecting women’s safe access to medical care. Women are tired of this government letting them down.
Accessing medical care without being subjected to intimidation, protest or harassment is the right of women, and it’s critically important. The NDP support passing this bill today, creating a new law to prevent protests at abortion clinics. Patrick Brown, for his own reasons, agreed to do that. Wynne refused.
Wynne owes an apology to the staff who work at clinics and hospitals, and to any woman who has or will feel intimidated or harassed when making health care decisions, including her right to choose.”


NDP to Wynne: Every child matters—support Indigenous children living with mental health challenges

During question period Thursday, Ontario’s NDP critic for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Michael Mantha demanded that the Wynne government answer the call of northern First Nations communities struggling to access mental health services.

“If a family lives in Sault Ste. Marie, Blind River or Elliott Lake, they have direct access to Algoma Family Services children’s mental health services. However, if a family lives on a First Nation, they receive no children’s mental health services from Algoma Family Services,” said Mantha.

According to the Chief of the Serpent River First Nation, Indigenous children living in communities between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury wait up to two years for mental health support. Nogdawindamin Family and Community Services is seeking to take over providing children and mental health services from area agencies—a proposal supported by Algoma Family Services.

“Algoma Family Services has indicated that they don’t have the expertise or resources to provide any services to First Nations in my area or to Indigenous children who are in the care of Nogdawindamin Family and Community Services,” said Mantha. “This is why Nogdawindamin has submitted a proposal to your ministry to fund the delivery of culturally-appropriate children’s mental health services to our area’s First Nations communities. Your ministry simply answered that there is no money for this. Minister, every child matters.” 

“Why is there no money for direct treatment of children’s mental health on First Nations in my area?” asked Mantha.


By rejecting paid leave, Wynne Liberals leave victims of violence trapped

NDP Labour, Fairness, and Work critic Cindy Forster says the Wynne Liberals have turned their backs on victims of intimate partner violence by rejecting calls for paid leave.
“This morning the Liberal government made it clear they don’t intend to support the NDP’s push for paid leave for victims of intimate partner violence, despite clear evidence that too many women are afraid to escape because they simply cannot afford to,” said Forster during question period.
Forster reminded the Wynne Liberals about testimony they heard this summer during public hearings about labour legislation, which often focused on the financial challenges faced by victims trying to flee their abusers. One speaker told them about the challenges a victim faced, who after fleeing her abuser with her three children and almost no possessions, still had to provide for the children, and make mortgage payments on the home she fled.
New Democrats have repeatedly called for paid leave for victims who need it. The member from London West introduced two pieces of legislation; your government is stalling them,” said Forster. “New Democrats introduced amendments to Bill 148 during the clause-by-clause [that would provide 10 days paid leave]; the Liberal government voted against those amendments.”
Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government is ignoring the financial reality of victims, says Forster.
“[NDP Leader Andrea Horwath] introduced a bill that would have 10 days’ paid leave for victims of sexual and domestic violence so survivors can actually afford to take a leave, so they can afford to have time off to file police reports, so they can testify and have time off to testify in court proceedings against their abusers. But the Liberal government refuses to support this. Why is that?” asked Forster. 
“Why is this government ignoring women who say paid leave will help them escape with their lives?”


Horwath, Fife renew call for broad inquiry into long-term care

Kitchener woman says care comes at a price and still lets her family down

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath joined Kitchener-Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife this morning to discuss the ongoing crisis in seniors long-term care in Ontario. Horwath again called for a broad, two-part inquiry into seniors care across the province, stemming from the circumstances of the Wettlaufer murders, and expanding to include an investigation into staffing levels, funding and safety conditions in long-term care homes.

“Seniors in Waterloo region are waiting months to get in to care, and once they find a room, many aren’t getting the care they need. Residents are being left in bed for 18 hours at a time, and don’t always get the basic help they need to make it to the bathroom on time or change their clothes regularly,” said Horwath. “Our loved ones deserve care that protects their safety, health and their dignity, and we need to find and fix these issues immediately.”

Horwath and Fife were joined by Kitchener resident Vicki McFarlane whose husband and mother both live in long-term care homes in the region.