This Premier is no Santa

Make no mistake, premier Doug Ford is on Santa’s naughty list.  In fact, the Conservative government has generated a surprising amount of naughtiness in only six months since they took office.  Here are several examples:

  1. Inflating deficit numbers to justify cuts: In September, the Conservative Minister of Finance proclaimed the province’s deficit to be much higher than what the Liberals had claimed. The Ford Conservatives have used this inflated number over and over again, as a tactic to justify their callous cuts to vital services and programs Ontarians rely on.
  2. High price firings and appointments: It seems that not a week goes by without news of someone getting fired or hired as a result of Ford’s meddling.  The former Hydro One CEO was canned, and walked away with about $9 million in cash and stocks, while an Ontario Power Generation executive was fired on the first day of his job and paid out up to $500,000. As I write this, controversy surrounds the appointment of the premier’s personal friend as head of the OPP.  
  3. Voting against auto insurance reform: The Ford government voted against an NDP Private Member’s Bill that would have put an end to postal code discrimination on the part of auto insurers, and ensure that the entire GTA is considered as a single region when determining auto insurance rates.
  4. Leaving Humber River-Black Creek out in the cold: The Ford government has shown our community little regard, and it keeps making life harder for Ontarians. This is evidenced by the Conservative Minister of Community Safety adding to the stigmatization of the Jane and Finch community, the government introducing legislation to allow gas companies to raise the cost of heating our homes, allowing developers to potentially build on the once-protected Greenbelt, cutting an increase to minimum wage as well as two paid sick days for workers, rolling back protections of temporary workers, and much more.

Although it appears this government is doing a great job of imitating Ebenezer Scrooge, you can count on the NDP opposition to fight for the people of Humber River-Black Creek, and for all Ontarians. I wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas, happy holidays and health and joy in the New Year.

NDP keeps pushing for auto insurance reform

Over 150 local residents packed an auto insurance town hall meeting I hosted in November to pressure this government to bring down the unfair auto insurance rates we pay in our community.

The community meeting was part of a series of auto insurance town halls Ontario’s NDP is holding across the GTA, each packed with people demanding change.

Our community continues to pay some of the highest auto insurance rates in this country even though we do not have the highest number of accidents on our streets.  In fact, there are even some in this community who are unable to drive because the insurance is simply unaffordable.

Ontario’s NDP has been fighting against auto insurance postal code discrimination for years but the Liberals, and now Doug Ford’s Conservative government, sided with big auto insurance corporations over the people.

In 2012, former NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh (and current federal NDP leader) tabled a private member’s bill that would have ended postal code discrimination, but both the Conservatives and the Liberals voted against it, and the bill failed. Later, the NDP extracted a promise from the provincial Liberals to reduce auto insurance rates by 15 per cent, but the Liberals simply broke their promise.

Most recently in October 2018, an NDP bill by MPP Gurratan Singh who attended our community meeting, called for auto insurance companies to treat the GTA as a single postal code when determining insurance rates.

Unfortunately, Doug Ford’s Conservative government voted against this NDP bill that aimed to bring down insurance rates for drivers. What’s more, one of the first things the Ford government did when taking office was to pave the way for a nine per cent hike to auto insurance rates.

Our community is tired of being taken advantage of by auto insurance corporations and deserve to be treated fairly.  I will continue to keep up the fight.

Ford government must stop putting down our community

Many in our community were rightly offended when a minister in Doug Ford’s PC government made comments in the Ontario Legislature that put down our community.

It occurred during Question Period (a time when MPPs seek information from Ontario’s premier and their ministers as well as hold them to account for their actions and decisions), when a fellow NDP MPP asked a question about ending police carding.  Rather than answer the question, the minister spoke of wearing a bulletproof vest at Jane and Finch and visiting sites that previously had “bullet-ridden people killed in the middle of the night.”

All words spoken in Ontario’s Legislature are recorded forever in what are called the Hansard transcripts.  Thanks to this minister, we are again stigmatized but this time in Queen’s Park documents.

The following day, I used my first Member’s Statement to balance his harsh words with a positive message about our community.  I am sharing these words with you as well:

“Mr. Speaker, I congratulate you and all members on your election to this prestigious House. I would also like to thank my family, friends, team and the great people of Humber River – Black Creek. It is an honour and a dream to represent my lifelong home.

Within Humber River – Black Creek is the Jane and Finch community where I grew up. It is a place where over a hundred languages are spoken, and the hospitality of people is second to none.

It’s a place of active young people, eager students and caring teachers, thriving businesses, and brilliant entrepreneurs.

We are a community of hard working parents, educated professionals, inspired artists, amazing athletes, active seniors, and passionate activists.

We have beautiful naturalized areas and parks, annual events and festivals, where families gather and children play.

Yesterday, however, it was with great disappointment that a government minister named my community only to describe it as a place of crime, as he dodged a question from my esteemed colleague, MPP Kevin Yarde who was calling for an end to the discriminatory practice of police carding.

Unfortunately, this stigmatization is nothing new to Jane and Finch, but it is especially hurtful and callous to hear it in this house. Words spoken here carry great weight and as such must be weighed carefully.

Rather than apologize, the Conservative Minister sent a representative here last night to read a mean-spirited and insensitive statement.

Jane and Finch, and Humber River – Black Creek, deserve better than this.”

Our community doesn’t need opportunistic photo-ops from the Ford government that casts us in a negative light. Addressing safety is something we all want, but this is not the way to do it.  

I will continue to fight for the issues that matter to us like lowering the unfair auto insurance rates we face, access to better jobs, improved health care, and proper funding for our schools and education. 

And I will challenge the Ford government’s negative and tiresome stereotypes of our neighbourhood that hurt all of us.