Remarks for PC Leader Patrick Brown
End of Session News Conference & May Jobs Numbers
I want to speak about two items today. First, the May jobs numbers that were released a short time ago and second, provide a few comments to wrap up the end of this legislative session.
The jobs numbers just released show good growth for the month of May. I am happy for the people who actually were able to find employment.
However, as we know, these are only numbers for one month – and we need to look at the broader picture and why Ontario has lost more than 300,000 manufacturing jobs over the last number of years.
Those lost jobs are directly related to this government’s economic policies. And with the policies that they are bring in in the months to come – such as the payroll tax and ever increasing hydro rates – this may well be only a blip on the jobs horizon.
Yesterday the session broke for the summer. The last few months have not been good for Ontario.
And while there are many different subjects I could talk about, I’m going to focus on three.
The government’s move to sell a majority of Hydro One will have a lasting impact on the province. It takes away a company that was originally built ‘for the people’ to ensure there was sufficient, low-cost electricity. Now this Liberal government will put majority control in the hands of the private sector.
It’s not that I have a problem with the private sector – it’s just that in the case of Hydro One and its position as a natural monopoly, I do not believe majority control should rest anywhere except with the people of Ontario.
To make matters worse, with the passage of the Liberal budget, there will be no public process or information about the sale of Hydro One. And, all public oversight disappears.
This is a huge concern for Hydro One customers.
And with this move, a practice of selling government assets in secret has been established.
At the same time, this session has continued to see increases to hydro rates, making it even harder for families and seniors to pay their hydro bills.
And in the future, while the privatized company may still be regulated by the OEB, there is no guarantee that rates won’t continue to go up, because when you own a monopoly in the private sector, there’s no incentive to pass along savings to your customers.
The cost of living is already too high for Ontario families. We should be looking for ways to help families get by and not make essential needs like heating and electricity more expensive.
We also have the Liberal government’s complete bungling of contract negotiations with teachers. Almost 1 million Ontario students have had their educations disrupted over the last few months because this government just couldn’t get the job done.
While they claim to believe in the negotiating process, often they aren’t even at the table. It is their complete disregard for parents and teachers showing through once again. During last year’s election campaign, Kathleen Wynne promised labour peace if she was re-elected.
Was this what she was talking about?
Because if it was, then I’d hate to see what labour unrest looks like under this Liberal government.
And finally, yesterday the Liberals tabled proposed electoral reforms. There is literally nothing in that bill on restricting third party advertising. Rather, the government said it would table legislation in the fall to crack down on this type of advertising, with specific decisions being made over the summer.
This is not good enough.
There needs to be reforms soon and it has to be substantial reform – not half measures.
My colleague Bill Walker has proposed specific changes that should be made, such as strict limits on amounts spent during each electoral cycle. We are also proposing that any person or group found to be in contravention would be banned from advertising during the next election.
I encourage the government to adopt MPP Walker’s proposals.
All of these examples – the fire sale of Hydro One, teacher strikes, electoral reform – show that Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals are no longer in it for the people of Ontario.
In conclusion, thank you to caucus for all they have done, in particular, Christine Elliott, who has had a very long year, and is taking much deserved time with her family.
And finally, Jim Wilson who has been invaluable – to the party, to caucus and, for the last month, to me.
He has done a great job over the last year and I am proud to work with him now, and in the future.