As regular readers of this column know, I always encourage people to contact my office about the column or any provincial matters of concern. I can tell you with certainty that many constituents take me up on this offer. My office is always busy assisting constituents with a multitude of issues and I am pleased with the number of comments and responses I receive on my weekly missive. As you can well imagine, I receive responses that truly cover the full spectrum from enthusiastic support to vehement opposition. And, yes, I do read them. In fact one of the responses that I received this week prompted this column.
Readers took the time to share their perceptions that I generally tend to see the efforts of the Wynne government in a negative light. To prove their point they stated that I seemed entirely oblivious to the recently announced programs by the Liberals. In an effort to support their statement they went on to list several examples such as the new OHIP+, planned increased funding for hospitals, and dental care among other items. Let’s take a closer look.
While I’m always happy to discuss the notion, I can’t help but respond with a chuckle and broad grin saying, “Well it’s about time Kathleen Wynne has started to listen to the people of Ontario and the NDP.” The new policies Wynne has announced (oh, so conveniently now just as the province is gearing up for election) are in fact a step in the right direction. So, what Ontarians need to do now is kind of like what my grandma used to say, “The proof is in the pudding.”
So, let’s do some comparison of a few of the examples from above.
Let’s start with Pharmacare. In this province 2.2 million people do not have any drug coverage. No one should ever have to leave a doctor’s office with a prescription in hand that they can’t afford to fill. Quite simply, the NDP Pharmacare plan will cover prescriptions for all Ontarians, no matter what age they are. Ours is truly a universal program. When you look at the Liberal plan, it covers young citizens under 25 years of age and now seniors over 65, leaving all others without. It is interesting to note that in the Liberal’s 2016 budget, Kathleen Wynne proposed slashing drug coverage for seniors and increasing their costs by more than 70 percent. Only the New Democrats said that was just wrong! So we stood up for seniors and successfully forced Wynne to back down on her proposal. We have always believed in universal health care and pharmacare. We have not suddenly ‘seen the light.’ After 15 years of Liberal rule, the only thing that has changed is that Ontario is just weeks away from an election.
Next, look at healthcare. We all know that Tommy Douglas and the NDP were the designers and force behind universal healthcare. The Ontario NDP is committed to implementing policies which provide stable hospital funding that keeps up with inflation, plus population growth, and recognizes the unique needs of each community – for example things like aging local population. The NDP will put a moratorium on front-line staff layoffs in health care. No more firing nurses to save money! Ontario’s hospitals have faced decades of cuts. The first came from a Conservative government that closed 28 hospitals and fired 6,000 nurses. We all know Doug Ford is cut from the same slash, burn and privatize cloth as previous Conservatives. The Liberals made things worse by cutting or freezing budgets for years. Voters can count on both of these parties to continue down paths leading to long waits, overcrowding and hallway medicine in our hospitals.
Finally, consider dental care. Today in Ontario over 4.5 million people do not have access to dental care. The NDP Dental Care for Everyone plan will publicly fund dental coverage for millions of people, including those on social assistance and seniors who don’t have retirement benefits. It will also ensure that every worker, including part-time, contract and temporary workers, have workplace dental plans. After 15 years in power, only now do the Liberals come up with a last last-minute promise to reimburse families just $50 per child per year for dental work, payable at the end of the year. Obviously Wynne hasn’t paid a dental bill in years. It costs at least $100 for a standard cleaning, and about $200 to have a cavity filled. The Liberal plan, if you can call it that, offers only a $50 reimbursement per child at the end of the year. That’s not a dental plan. It won’t help those families that can’t afford to pay upfront – and it certainly won’t give children the care they need.
So, in response to the reader who contacted me I say, on the surface things look similar, but, as grandma said, “The proof is in the pudding.”
As always, please feel free to contact my office about these issues, or any other provincial matters. You can reach my constituency office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll free 1-800-831-1899.
Michael Mantha MPP/député