Questions for the Candidate
1. Funding for Schools
What is the position of your party on extending provincial funding for religious schools?
The Green Party believes in a single publicly funded education system that treats all students fairly and equally. The UN Human Rights Committee has twice censured Ontario for violating the equality of its own citizens by funding Roman Catholic schools but not schools of other religions. The GPO does not support the John Tory solution of funding all faith-based schools. We believe that we should move to one school system with English and French streams.
What is your position for funding other types of private schools (ie. non-religious) like some which operate here in Sandy Hill?
As stated above, the Green Party believes in a single publicly funded education system. We do not support public funding of schools outside of the public system.
What is your party’s position on class size (maximum number of students in a classroom)?
The Green Party recognizes the success of the current government in reducing most class sizes to 20 from Kindergarten to Grade 3. We believe we must extend this effort through to Grade 12.
What would your party do to provide an alternate route for the heavy truck traffic which currently passes through downtown Ottawa?
I recognize that the need to remove truck transport from downtown Ottawa is great. We must use it as an opportunity to make wise long-term investments in our infrastructure. Our first goal should be to reduce demand for automobile infrastructure by ensuring that a seamless inter-provincial mass transit system is included in any proposal. Second, recognizing that rail is a far more efficient use of energy, the province must begin to plan now for greater reliance on it as opposed to trucks for the transportation of goods. Third, any new infrastructure should be tolled to appropriate cost to users. Finally, we must ensure that we do not repeat the mistake of the King Edward Bridge and allow truck traffic to split apart another community.
How does your party plan to address the growing problem of homelessness in the downtown cores of our cities?
I believe that a society is judged by the way it responds to the needs of its most vulnerable. With respect to homelessness, particularly when combined with mental illness and/or drug addiction, our legacy is shameful. Our societal response is patchwork at best, with various agencies scrambling to do what they can for those in need. All too often we resort to “blaming the victim” for their plight. This is inexcusable in the 21st Century. It is essential that the province develops and implements a comprehensive long-range plan that would ensure that acceptable housing is available to every citizen. We also must ensure that every individual who needs help with drug addictions is provided the treatment needed on a timely basis. Our failure in this area continues to compound problems that destroy neighbourhoods.
The Green Party proposes to address poverty through improvements in the minimum wage, indexing Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program payments to the rate of inflation, and adjust shelter allowances to reflect average local rents as defined by CMHC.
We also propose to divert future budget surpluses to create a $5 billion Long-Term Affordable Housing Investment Dedicated Fund. Annual interest from this Fund would be used to continuously build supported housing, seniors accommodation, affordable housing, rent-to-own housing, coops, co-housing, sweat equity housing, eco-villages.
4. University Education
Sandy Hill is home to many university students. How does your party propose to help these students meet the increasing expense of their education?
The Green Party believes that high tuition is counterproductive to developing both a competitive economy and a qualified, engaged workforce. To address this issue, the Green Party of Ontario will provide $500 million per year by 2011 to cap university tuition at $3000 average per year and college tuition at $700. The Green Party understands that in the 21st century Ontario needs well-educated citizens who are able to achieve their full potential.
5. Public Transit
What support will your party offer to Ottawa as it tries to improve its public transportation system and meet the challenges of future growth?
The Green Party of Ontario is committed to cleaner, cheaper, more efficient and safer forms of transportation. Ontario’s current transportation system is inefficient, expensive, polluting, dangerous and unsustainable. The Green Party envisions a transportation system that does not reduce our quality of life. Our Plan for sustainability would Divert 75% of all money budgeted for new highway construction until 2012 to public transit such as GO Transit, Toronto Transit Commission and Ottawa’s OCTranspo. This will fund the service improvements, expansion and infrastructure renewal required to create a world-class transportation system, relieve gridlock and eliminate the need for new highways.
Will your party support Ottawa’s public transportation system? If so, how?
As noted above, we would shift our transportation investments from highway construction to a far greater emphasis on public transportation.
6. Medical Care
We are fortunate to have the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre in this neighbourhood but the current wait time for Sandy Hill residents to register with this facility is two years. What strategies does your party propose to increase access to primary care for our community in the next 4 years?
The GPO’s health plan takes a broad approach to wellness, with an emphasis on healthy communities, healthy lifestyles and a healthy environment, not just health care. Reducing toxins in our environment, addressing the social determinants of health and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices are important components of the Green Party’s health plan.
Health care reform is urgently needed if we are to have a health care system that is sustainable and viable in the future. The Green Party plan will offer more choice, emphasize prevention and be accountable to the public. The Green Party of Ontario will provide Ontarians in the lowest 75th percentile of income an additional health care allowance of $1,000 per person, phased in over five years at $200 per year, for purchase of prescription drugs and/or care from any practitioner mandated by the Regulated Health Professionals Act (RHPA).
We will immediately increase the budget of the Ministry of Health Promotion from its current 1% level to 2% of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s budget. Since many illnesses result from lifestyle choices, the GPO believes that health promotion is fiscally prudent and will lead to improved wellness. These funds would be used to place nurses in the school system to promote healthy lifestyles and to assist in identifying youth at risk of long-term health problems.
We will increase the funding and effectiveness of primary and preventive health care by:
1) Creating a joint commission of stakeholders to explore best practices for implementation of preventive and primary health care by family doctors, with an emphasis on improved outcomes. This may include rewarding doctors who successfully assist their patients resolve risk factors such as obesity, smoking or uncontrolled high blood pressure.
2) Increasing support and incentives for multidisciplinary clinics and practices that team
doctors with nurses, dieticians, psychologists, counsellors, physiotherapists etc. This is particularly important for taking a holistic approach to mental health, addiction and lifestyle counselling.