Provincial election necessary because of broken promises

So here we are again.

On Jun. 12, the citizens of Ontario will head to the polls to decide who will form the next provincial government.

Admittedly, the mood among some voters ranges from apathetic to downright hostile. Many are wondering why we are going into our second provincial election in three years? They are wondering why the parties could not sort out their differences at Queen’s Park rather than getting the public involved?

If only it were that easy.

What this all boils down to is a series of broken promises Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government has made to the people of Ontario.

The Liberals promised to cut auto insurance rates, which vary greatly across the province, causing people in places like Downsview to pay significantly more money to insure their vehicles than people living in other parts of the city, let alone other parts of the province.

While the Liberals did make some cuts to auto insurance rates, these cuts were simply not enough. This is something Downsview residents can attest to every time they have to pay their auto insurance bill.

The Liberals have promised to improve the access to affordable childcare services, which currently cost Ontario parents between $40 and $70 a day to place their children in a licensed daycare. What’s worse is that the parents of more than 16,000 children require subsidies that they have not received because they can’t afford to put their children in daycare.

Kathleen Wynne has repeatedly promised to fix our childcare system in order to make it more affordable, yet there has been no action. There are plenty of available spots in licensed daycare facilities that remain empty because their cost is simply too high for many Ontario parents.

There is also the issue of the $1.1 Billion of Ontario taxpayers’ money the Liberal government wasted to cancel an unpopular power plant in order to secure then Premier Dalton McGuinty’s re-election in 2011. This also doesn’t mention the files related to the scandal that were deleted from hard drives within the Premier’s office. The matter is still currently under investigation.

Put yourself in the position of Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath in considering whether or not to support the most recent Liberal budget. Sure there were a lot of promises made, but given the Liberal government’s inability to keep the promises they’ve made in the past, it is understandable that Horwath determined they would be unable to keep these promises as well.

Plunging the province into yet another election is never an easy thing, but Horwath made the right decision. A government that has not been able to keep the promises it made to the citizens who put it in power should be held accountable by those very citizens.

Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals will once again make all sorts of promises in order to remain in power. It is now up to us, as citizens to determine whether or not to believe those promises.

 

Hydro bills keep going up while service keeps going down

By Tom Rakocevic

 

At the beginning of this month, Ontarians had to endure yet another increase to our hydro bill.

Hydro wasn’t our only bill to go up. According to the Sunshine List, Tom Mitchell, the President and CEO of Ontario Power Generation made $1.71 Million in 2013, making him the highest paid public sector employee in the province. A $10,000 increase from what Mitchell earned in 2013.

This doesn’t even mention the $1 Billion Ontario taxpayers paid by selling excess electricity to other states and provinces for significantly less than what it cost to produce it. This translates to roughly $220 a year out of each of our pockets. Nor does it mention the Liberal government’s $1.1 Billion gas plant fiasco where they cancelled an unpopular power plant in order to get re-elected, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill.

Currently, an average Ontario family pays approximately $125 a month for electricity. According to Kathleen Wynne’s “long-term energy plan,” we can expect a 42 per cent increase in our hydro bills over the next five years. Under this plan, it is projected that Ontario families will pay an average of $178 a month on our hydro bills. Residents living in homes with electric furnaces and/or baseboard heating already face incredibly high bills and the situation will only get worse. Some individuals have seen bills approaching $1,000 in the coldest months.

This will put a major squeeze on many Ontario families, including those living here in Downsview. Under the Liberal government, our hydro bills have increased by almost 50 per cent and show no signs of slowing down.

Despite the price increase, hydro service has not increased, it has actually decreased.

Recently, Ontario Ombudsman André Marin, has launched “a systemic investigation into complaints about serious problems with billing and customer service at Hydro One.”

Some of the most common complaints have been that customers have only received estimated hydro bills, or none at all, only to later be served with large cumulative bills that don’t give people a reasonable amount of time to pay them.

This hurts the most vulnerable people in our society, and bogs them down with interest payments that are extremely difficult to keep up with, and places them under threat of having their hydro cut off.

All of this would be bad enough even if people were able to contact to get a proper explanation. However, many of the complaints that Marin has received about Hydro One has been about the government corporation’s lack of customer service.

“In the past few years, we have seen more and more complaints from Hydro One users about bills that seem to have no bearing in reality – and about the lack of answers they get when they ask why,”  Marin said in a Feb. 4 press release.

According to Marin, he was “alarmed” when his office tried to contact Hydro One regarding this matter, they too got “stonewalled,” and that this experience reflected the concerns he been hearing from regular Ontarians who wrote in their complaints.

How did the Liberal government respond to this colossal mismanagement of our provincial hydro utility? By giving raises to the hydro executives who were in charge of this, paid for by us, the taxpayers.

There have been serious problem at our public hydro utility for years. Not only is it one that the provincial Liberal government has failed to do anything about, the problem has gotten significantly worse under their watch.

Sometimes you can only change the system by changing the government

by Howard Moscoe

No doubt in this provincial election there will a lot of gnashing of teeth and jawing of gums  about the Ontario Liberal government wasting Millions of dollars moving hydro plants  and the Ornge ambulance scandal.

These are small potatoes when compared to the waste that they’ve built into the structure of the hospital system.  I learned about it the hard way, tried to do something about it and failed.

In 2004, I spent almost six months in and out of hospital beds at Mount Sinai Hospital where I witnessed first hand how hospital funds are wasted.

I had picked up a virus on a trip to Spain that began to harden the lining around my heart. It is called constrictive pericarditis and as the lining turns to cement it begins to impair the ability of your heart to pump out fluids. To correct that doctors administer diuretics, drugs that cause you to pee.

In my case, the pills didn’t work, so I had to enter the hospital so they could be administered intravenously.  Eventually, they would operate by stripping out the lining around my heart to permanently relieve the pressure.

During that period, I was scheduled for several major tests some at Mt. Sinai and some at the Toronto General Hospital, where the operation was to take place.  The tests were scheduled and what invariably happened was the day before the tests were to occur I was bumped.

When I looked around me and I spoke to nurses and other patients I learned that being bumped from a test was a very common occurrence.

It seemed that being bumped for an average of three days was the norm.

Why?  It’s because the hospital is paid a per diem (daily fee) by the Province of Ontario for each day that a patient is under hospital care.  At that time it was around $900 a day.  That fee covers the total cost of a patient’s care including major tests.

When an outpatient comes in for a test, the hospital receives a separate fee for that service.  Therefore there is an incentive for the hospital to bump inpatients in favour of outpatients.  Think about it.  Every time I was bumped from a test, I spent an extra three days in hospital. That cost the Government of Ontario $2,700.  Multiply that by the many thousands of patients who are bumped from tests and it makes the Ornge ambulance scandal look like chump change.  It doesn’t just happen in cardiac wards, but almost every other department where major tests are scheduled.

This could explain why in two instances, I had to spend a full night on a stretcher in the emergency room because the cardiac ward was full.  That’s one of the many reasons that emergency rooms are crowded and why you have to sit there for endless hours waiting for treatment.

So what’s the answer?  It seems easy.  Exclude the cost of tests from the per diem payment, lower it to offset that cost and pay hospitals separately for major tests. In other words eliminate the incentive for bumping inpatients.

It may sound easy, but I am sure it isn’t.  I was determined to do something about it. I scheduled a lunch with George Smitherman, the then Liberal Minister of Health in the members’ dining room at Queens Park. I know George from his time a City Hall.

He took careful notes and nothing ever happened.  I know how difficult making a structural change in any government system can be. Every time you try to change the dynamics, there are powerful interests that will lobby against it and hospital boards and administrators are among the most powerful.

That’s why sometimes you just have to change the government if you want to change the system.