The Ontario Legislature returns to work after the Family Day weekend, and it returns for the final time before the spring election. Premier Doug Ford and his ministers will likely have some ideas about what they want to do during last few months of the session, but Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner has some ideas of his own. If you’ve been carefully following provincial politics, the three goals should not be terribly surprising.
In a media availability Thursday morning, Schreiner said when he returns to Queen’s Park on Tuesday, he’s focusing on mental health, housing affordability, and climate action, especially action that protects farmland and wetlands. Schreiner said these also reflect an overarching concern he’s hearing from Guelphites and Ontarians: Affordability.
“As we head back to the legislature next week, Greens will work to address the affordability challenges facing Ontarians, especially those who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, in particular persons with disabilities,” Schreiner said. “Right now, people are paying record high gas prices, groceries, heating and electricity bills, and we know that Ontarians are frustrated and demanding solutions.”
Schreiner said that housing affordability has reached a crisis point, and that all parties in the legislature have to work together to find solutions. He also emphasized that those solutions have to be sustainable. Environmental protections and creating housing solutions do not have to be separate issues if the Premier plays things right.
“Unlike what Doug Ford might think, environmental protections are not red tape. They protect the nature that protects us from expensive flooding and storms. As our economy begins to recover from the pandemic, we need to ensure that it is a green and caring recovery,” Schreiner explained.
“We can build better homes and create thousands of jobs with a green retrofit program for public buildings, homes, apartments and small businesses. Helping people save money by saving energy. That’s how we can kickstart economic recovery.”
In terms of what might actually happen in the session, Schreiner said that housing affordability has to be the top priority if the government is intending to follow where the electorate is pointing.
“There is a housing affordability crisis, and we’re going to continue to keep pushing for solutions to the crisis, but I’m also hearing from people saying that we need to address the mental health crisis that many people are facing, particularly after two years of the pandemic,” Schreiner said. “We are putting forward a number of solutions that will reduce wait times and improve access to mental health services and supports.”