With the Ontario Legislature sitting again, Members of Provincial Parliament are returning to Queen’s Park in Toronto to continue debating Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government agenda.
And there is much to debate.
In recent months, the Liberals have been overwhelmed by historically low approval ratings and by-election losses in seats that had once been their strongholds. They are now more focused on political survival than any other strategic imperative.
Skyrocketing electricity bills continue to be the number one issue in Ontario. Many families and seniors are saying they can’t afford to pay their hydro bills, and businesses tell us high hydro costs make us uncompetitive and cost us jobs. Voters understand the upward pressure on hydro bills has been caused by the deliberate policy decisions of the McGuinty and Wynne Liberal governments over a period of many years. We need to hold them accountable, even if they now claim to be contrite.
Health care is also a top concern, since the government has been publicly feuding with Ontario’s doctors. Instead, we should be demonstrating our appreciation and respect for all health care providers, identifying ways to reduce overlapping and unnecessary administration, and plow those savings back into front line care.
In the spring session, I plan to continue to seek opportunities to remind the government of some of our infrastructure needs. Working together with local partners, we have made progress towards a new Groves Memorial Community Hospital in Fergus, a new university campus in Halton, the Highway 6 Morriston bypass and a new Halton courthouse. We also need support for the Town of Halton Hills Highway 7 truck strategy, and improved, affordable high-speed internet in rural areas.
As critic to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, I will be monitoring the minister’s public activities and statements, calling attention to their flaws and drawbacks, and seeking to propose better solutions. The Liberals’ cap-and-trade scheme has increased the cost of gasoline and natural gas, has been criticized by the Auditor General and the Financial Accountability Officer, and is subject to political lobbying and manipulation.
We believe a better way to confront the challenge of climate change would be revenue-neutral carbon emission pricing. British Columbia has done it. All of the revenue collected could and should be returned to Ontario residents and businesses through corresponding tax cuts.
And as always, I welcome your thoughts and advice.
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Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott can be reached at 1-800-265-2366. His website is tedarnottmpp.com.