It’s been a busy start to the new legislative session, with healthcare issues, affordability and housing topping the list of issues MPPs have been dealing with. Here’s a rundown of what's been happening and how I've been working to bring our community's concerns forward (and read on for some great upcoming community events).
The Speech from the Throne outlined the government’s priorities for the session. In my first speech of this session, I spoke about how the Throne Speech fails to address some of the most pressing issues facing people here in Davenport, and across the province (the words “climate change” were absent from the speech). Watch my remarks here.
The government also re-tabled the same provincial budget it put forward before the election, even though inflation has skyrocketed, with only two announced changes: an increase in ODSP rates by 5% (something that will only add about $58 dollars a month for those struggling to get by on this meagre benefit) and a new direct payment to parents. While details and timeline for this payment have yet to be revealed, it was suggested that this one-time payment (likely around $50) would be to purchase private tutoring.
In my role as Official Opposition Critic for Education, I raised concerns that moving funding out of public education and directing it to private companies will undermine the in-school educational support students need after a difficult two years. Watch my comments from the press conference here.
The Opposition has focused its efforts on the hospital staffing crisis that has strained hospitals and closed emergency and other units (including at nearby St. Joseph’s). In the first Question Period of the session I asked the Premier what it will take to acknowledge the extent of the crisis and take action to deal with it, like repealing the wage-suppressing Bill 124 that has been pushing exhausted nurses out of the system.
Alarmingly, the Premier and his Health Minister last week raised the spectre of increasing private health care in our system. Thursday, they made good on their promise, announcing a plan to expand private surgeries. Another government bill tabled yesterday will give them the power to send “patients waiting for a long-term care bed to a home not of their choosing.”
As Canadians, our public health care system - and the right to health care - is a cherished part of our identity, and an essential element of a fair society and prosperous economy. By failing to act on the staffing crisis, the government is exacerbating a crisis and using it to put forward a privatization agenda.
Every dollar that is siphoned from health care toward the profits of private companies puts our system at risk, and puts peoples’ health at risk. We need to stand together to defend public health care, and you can count on me to help lead that fight.
Marit Stiles, MPP