Essex MPP not impressed with 2017 provincial budget


By Ron Giofu


Despite cash in the 2017 Ontario budget for a new hospital system in Windsor-Essex, Taras Natyshak is not impressed with what has been put forth by the Liberal government.

“In all respects, I’d say the budget falls short,” said the Essex MPP.

Natyshak, a New Democrat, attributes the hospital funding to those who fought for it. He said it “can be credited to the community for coming together.”

Natyshak said he continues to be a supporter of the new Windsor-Essex hospital system and that “we deserve this.”

“I certainly congratulate everyone who has worked on this effort,” said Natyshak. “It’s one victory in a budget that falls short.”

The 2017 provincial budget does little to aid those impacted by high electricity rates, he added.

“I saw nothing in the budget that will help people afford electricity costs,” he said.

The CEO of Hydro One makes $4.1 million annually while colleagues in other provinces make about $500,000 per year, Natyshak stated, adding that hydro should remain a public asset.

“That’s just ludicrous,” he said of the salary.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak

Natyshak said the budget “fails to acknowledge” the two million people struggling to pay for prescription drugs and said a youth pharmacare plan, that would provide free access to approximately 4,400 prescription drugs for those 24-and-under doesn’t go far enough. He believed it was “a piecemeal pharmacare program” and that it doesn’t address those over 24 years of age, including seniors who often have complex prescription drug needs.

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath recently unveiled her party’s proposal to create a universal pharmacare program in Ontario, one that would be in place by 2020 if her party was elected in next year’s provincial election. Reports indicate that it would initially cover 125 essential drugs.

The budget is health care-oriented, said Natyshak, but it doesn’t do enough for area hospitals which have had to go through five years of frozen budgets. Funding will rise with the rate of inflation, he said, but that it still falls short of what is needed.

“There’s no commitment to improving access to affordable child care,” he added. “There was no focus on non-profit and affordable child care.”

The budget doesn’t do enough for precarious workers, Natyshak continued, stating the NDP advocates a $15 per hour minimum wage.

“By any standard, it’s still below what a livable wage should be,” said Natyshak.

Further enhancements in long-term care support are needed, he continued and the budget “does nothing” as it relates to school closures in rural and northern communities.

Continuing the widening of Highway 3 is also not included, with Natyshak noting that phase three of the project has been on the books since 2006. He said he was told it could be part of the 2017 budget and was disappointed when it wasn’t.

“Immediately after the budget, when I confronted the Minister of Transportation, I was told we’d have to wait a little bit longer,” said Natyshak. “I responded that we are tired of waiting.”

Natyshak promoted the NDP as the party that is “ready to take the helm and meet the needs of families.” He said they knew the Liberals were looking to balance the books but “what they fail to remember is they are balancing the books on the backs of the province.”

There are still people struggling in Ontario and when listening to the unveiling of the budget, he believed it was a case of too little, too late.

“This is a Premier that is trying to undo the damage her government has done the last 14 years,” said Natyshak. “There were pennies for everyone but no focus on eliminating the structural problems that exist.”

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