While knocking on doors in Beaches-East York, neighbours have been sharing their thoughts and worries with me. I’m hearing similar concerns all across our riding: people are worried that their kids are struggling in school after years of cuts followed by two years of a global pandemic, people are worried that they’ll be priced out of their city and won’t be able to stay in the community they love, people are worried that the cost of living is too high, and people are worried about how they and their parents will be taken care of as they age. I am eager to tackle these and so many other issues that are important to all of us living here in Beaches-East York.
For too many families in Ontario, it is getting harder and harder to pay the bills and make ends meet. Over the last four years, the cost of buying a home in Ontario has doubled, rent has gone up by at least $200 a month, and prices keep climbing at the grocery store. The cost of housing is skyrocketing, and too many of us are being forced out of the neighbourhoods we love.
If elected, my #1 priority will be making life more affordable for all of us here in Beaches-East York.
The Ontario NDP has a plan to manage out-of-control rent, create homes you can afford, and crack down on speculation. We will create cheaper auto insurance and will protect consumers by regulating gas to stop gouging at the pumps and ban predatory payday loans. We will speed up the implementation of $10-a-day daycare to help Ontario families save on their monthly costs. I am so proud of our plan to make groceries more affordable through the creation of a provincial food strategy that puts healthy, locally sourced food onto our tables.
We know that 1 in 4 Ontarians have accessed care for their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mental health interacts with key social determinants of health, including housing, food insecurity, and employment. I am proud that the Ontario NDP understands that mental health is health, and will expand OHIP coverage to include mental health care, so that you can pay for mental health care with your OHIP card, not your credit card. Making mental health care more affordable will help so many here in our province get access to the care they need.
A more affordable Ontario is possible. Hope is on the way.
As a registered healthcare professional here in Ontario, it is a huge priority for me that the NDP supports our publicly funded healthcare system.
Our own Michael Garron Hospital has truly gone above and beyond to support our Beaches-East York community throughout the pandemic, working to improve equity and access to pandemic protections including vaccines, and providing testing and support to local schools and daycares. It is essential that we in turn support hospitals to rebuild after the COVID-19 pandemic, including repealing Bill 124, prioritizing the recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals, and removing barriers for internationally trained workers to come join the Ontario workforce.
Proper funding of community-based care, including family doctors, nurse practitioners, mental health support through OHIP, dental care, and pharmacare, will help address- and may even prevent- many of the issues that bring people into our already overcrowded ERs.
My key priorities for our healthcare system are reducing the massive backlog of surgeries, funding programs people currently pay out of pocket for, addressing systemic inequity in access to healthcare, and ensuring older Ontarians are supported so they can age in place with dignity. The Ontario NDP platform recognizes the diversity of all Ontarians, regardless of their age. In particular, the Ontario NDP plans for the home care and long-term care sectors emphasizes that gender diversity should be respected, that no older adult should have to worry about whether they will be accepted by their care provider, whether they will have to go back into the closet should they move into long term care, or whether their partner or spouse will be included in their care decisions. As your MPP, I will work to champion an inclusive, person-centred approach to the care of all Ontarians, with a special focus on our oldest neighbours.
After decades of cuts by previous governments, and two years of a devastating global pandemic, we must prioritize the rebuilding of our public education system here in Ontario. Our kids deserve a world-class education, and I know that together we can provide them with the crucial support and learning opportunities they deserve.
One of the first problems that must be addressed is the broken funding formula. Per-student funding has steadily declined since 2011 and the model needs to be updated to reflect current needs of learners and school communities. This includes the need to access technology. During the pandemic, our school board came to our classrooms and removed all the tech equipment to send out to kids throughout the city. Many families simply did not have access to the technology necessary to facilitate online learning, a more equitable solution must be sought.
Our kids deserve to be learning in well-maintained spaces, without asbestos in the ceiling or paint peeling off the walls. We must eliminate the state of good repair backlog. This was already a major issue when the current administration took office and has increased even further to almost 17 billion dollars over the last 4 years.
Safe schools for kids, educators, and education staff are a key priority for the Ontario NDP and for myself as a parent with one child in the public education system, and a second about to join her in the Fall. Physically, our schools need to see improved ventilation to mitigate airborne illnesses like COVID-19. Intellectually, the learning loss experienced during the pandemic needs to be addressed. And emotionally, kids need better mental health support, including school psychologists, social workers, and services in the community covered by OHIP.
Lastly, safety in terms of inclusion and feeling represented in your community must be prioritized. A commitment to ending all forms of racism and discrimination, including anti-Black racism, and supporting Indigenous studies in our curriculum, which was one of the first things that was cut back in July 2018, is of utmost importance. As your MPP, I will engage with our Beaches-East York community members and help ensure that the diverse lived experiences of both learners and education staff are being represented within our Ontario schools.