What is abundantly clear from the past four weeks on the campaign trail, voters in Ontario and here in Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry are being given very different voting choices.
Rather than lecture readers on why they should vote June 7th, we felt it was important to look at the four biggest issues in this province, and our community: Electricity rates; Education; Health Care; and Jobs.
Electricity rates are among the highest in North America when factoring energy cost and delivery.
The impact to families and businesses continues to hinder growth. No Ontarians should have to face choosing between either buying groceries, or paying their utility bill.
The PC’s say they will cut rates 12 per cent, end the Green Energy Act, and buy hydro from Quebec.
The NDP say they will cut rates 30 per cent, buy back OPG and shutter the Pickering Nuclear plant. If needed they would buy from Hydro Quebec as well.
The Liberals support the plan they implemented to cut residential rates 25 per cent through long term borrowing.
Meanwhile the Green Party supports retrofitting buildings for improved efficiency, and using more renewable energy generation augmented with cheap hydro from Quebec.
Education has taken a high priority, especially in rural areas like South Dundas. As we saw during the pupil accommodation review process, our schools are still at risk of closure or consolidation in the future.
The Liberals put in a moratorium that ends in a year. They plan on investing in 2,000 more teachers and educational assistants, will continue to push for more community hub use for schools, and will modernize learning assessments.
The NDP would overhaul the funding formula, equalizing the amount per child given to all five school systems in Ontario and spend 16 billion over 10 years to fix capital repairs for schools. They also would extend the moratorium on school closures.
The Green Party would merge the five school systems into one, and reinvest the savings into the classroom. They also support having schools open in their communities and using technology to offer classes if the student population is small.
The PC’s plan on adjusting the curriculum, modifying the EQAO testing, and upholding a moratorium on school closing until a new process is developed.
Our health care system continues to be the largest single line item in the provincial budget. More that 500,000 people in Ontario have no family doctor. In South Dundas, attracting new physicians is an issue. Wait lists continue to grow in specialized medicine treatments and for mental health supports.
The NDP would restore funding to hospitals, immediately open 2,000 new beds across the province and invest 19 billion into capital projects over 10 years.
The Green Party would fund mental health services through OHIP and adopt a preventative-based medical system.
The PC’s would fund dental care for seniors, build 15,000 long term care beds to take stress off overcrowded hospitals, and increase mental health funding.
The Liberals will invest 2.1 billion into mental health, provide more money for home care and increase hospital funding by 822 million.
Jobs are a big issue in Eastern Ontario and South Dundas. The May 26th editorial in the Globe and Mail stated in the past decade, 80 per cent of jobs created in Ontario went to Toronto, 10 per cent to Ottawa, while the remaining 10 per cent went to the remainder of the province. In Eastern Ontario, the decline of good paying jobs and replacement with minimum wage jobs is clearly visible, and staggering.
To create jobs, the Green Party would stop $3.1 billion in subsidies for “old technology” and invest in what they bill as a $6 trillion opportunity in new technology.
The PC’s would cut red tape, lower the business tax rate by one per cent, lower the small business tax rate by 8.7 per cent, and end corporate welfare, eliminating the Liberal’s Jobs and Prosperity fund.
The Liberals would invest $900 million in the next 10 years to attract new business, reduce electricity costs for business, and work on international trade to bring investment.
The NDP will create 27,000 new job placements for students in trades and other programs, double the Jobs and Prosperity fund to attract investment in the province, increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour, and keep that wage indexed to inflationary increases yearly.
We believe that all political parties and their leaders involved in the election mean well, and believe their plans are the best for Ontarians.
Our job on June 7th is to vote on what option we believe will be the best for the province, ourselves, and our families.
The choices are distinct, and the decision is difficult.
It is our hope that as an informed voter, you will take this opportunity to make a choice. If the choices on the ballot don’t interest you, then make a stand, and return your ballot to the returning officer. Those are counted too. And on June 8th, we’ll see the results.