Although the current Provincial government is unlikely to take any of his suggestions, Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner laid out a five-point list of priorities that should be on the government to do list when they announce the budget this week. On Wednesday, the Government of Ontario will announce the 2021-2022 fiscal plan, and Schreiner thinks that the priority should be pandemic recovery and support.
In a 10-minute video released on social media on Monday, the Green Party of Ontario leader thanked all healthcare workers and first responders for their perseverance and hard work in the midst of the pandemic. It’s to them he dedicated his wish list for the budget, starting with a safe workplace plan for all Ontario businesses.
“We’ve seen a number of outbreaks in vulnerable workplaces where essential workers have to go into work to get the job done,” Schreiner said specifically mentioning the Amazon warehouse in Brampton that was closed by public health. “We need a plan that provides paid sick days for all workers. We need a plan that provides paid time off for people to get vaccinated. We need to ensure there’s proper PPE, and proper inspections with enforcement on a whole host of issues.”
Schreiner also said that there needs to be a big investment made into long-term care homes and proper staffing, more investments in affordable housing, more support for small businesses, and proper funding for mental health services.
“We already had wait times that were far too long to access affordable mental health services, and in the case of youth mental health wait times as long as 18 months are just unacceptable,” Schreiner said. “At the very least, this government just needs to deliver on their promise of $3.8 billion over 10 years, which is far below the four-year $4 billion promise the Green Party advocated for in the last election.”
Schreiner also talk about laying the ground work for the post-pandemic recovery, and that means environmental priorities. “The climate crisis is only accelerating, which we’ve been witnessing in the extreme weather events happening across Canada and around the world,” he said.
Schreiner went after Premier Doug Ford and the government for their excessive use of Ministerial Zoning Orders (MZOs) with specific reference to the now cancelled Amazon warehouse in Pickering and the Highway #413 project that has seen a great deal of pushback from both environmentalists and area governments.
“We have a real choice about what kind of Ontario we want for generations to come,” Schreiner said. “Is it going to be the Premier’s reckless, irresponsible and destructive path that paves over the places we love and puts the people we care about at risk, or will it be the Green Party’s approach, which is to protect the places we love, and to invest in people and making our communities more caring, and more inclusive?”
Schreiner was not the only provincial political leader thinking about the future on Monday. In his own statement, Liberal leader Steven Del Duca also promised to kill Highway #413, and put the $8 billion investment to other matters.
“It is inconceivable to me that Doug Ford wants to spend billions paving over farmland, destroying wetlands and undermining the Greenbelt all for a highway that will only save some commuters mere seconds,” said Del Duca. “Ontario Liberals stopped this reckless project once before and we will do it again. And I will use those same funds to modernize our schools and make our classrooms healthier, safer and climate resilient.”
According to Del Duca, the “Ontario Liberal Action Plan to Rebuild School” will invest in upgrades to the HVAC system in Ontario schools, increased access to broadband, and the creation of thousands of new daycare spaces.