Essex MPP

Natyshak opens campaign office

 

By Jonathan Martin

 

Essex’s incumbent member of provincial parliament is officially on the campaign trail again.

Taras Natyshak, New Democratic member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, opened his office’s doors to the public Sunday to kick off the campaign season.

The small office, located in the Town of Essex, was packed with Natyshak’s supporters.  A few of them sported T-shirts declaring, “Water is Life,” referencing the MPP’s bout with the Ontario legislature over water quality in Chatham-Kent.

Essex NDP MPP Taras Natyshak speaks to a group of his supporters in his Essex campaign office last Sunday. Natyshak is up for re-election June 7. He was first elected to the provincial Legislature in 2011.

There, farmers allege wind farms have caused harmful sediment to seep into their well water.  Natyshak brought the farmers’ concerns before the legislature on March 5, only to be ejected from Queen’s Park after producing a jar of black liquid, which he said came from one of the farmers’ wells.  Reports released by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs state that no connection between the sediment and the wind farms has been established and, referencing findings by the Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health, contend that the water is safe to drink.

Natyshak stands by the farmers’ allegations, though.  Despite the fact that Chatham-Kent is outside of his riding, he said he will continue to work on the issue.

“It’s not a coincidence,” he said.  “I am fully invested in their fight and will continue fighting with them.”

Some of those affected by the sediment are members of Water Wells First, a group which speaks out against anything it deems harmful to the aquifer present beneath Chatham-Kent.

Water Wells First’s spokesperson is Kevin Jakubec.  He stepped onto a chair and addressed the office.

“I’m here today and our members are here today to thank Taras,” he said.  “He’s been a bulldog on the Ministry of Environment.”

After an impassioned speech, Jakubec stepped down from the chair and Natyshak stepped up.  He said that he cared deeply about the issue of clean drinking water because it’s a health issue, and healthcare is something he is passionate about.

Water Wells First spokesperson Kevin Jakubec speaks at Essex NDP MPP Taras Natyshak’s campaign office in Essex on Sunday, May 6, 2018. Natyshak brought the group’s concerns before Queen’s Park. He is now up for re-election. (photo by Jonathan Martin)

He said, if elected, the NDP plans to introduce 15,000 new beds into long-term care over four years and inject an additional 40,000 over eight.  He said adding beds to long-term care would free up space in primary care, which is an issue he feels will become even more pressing as Ontario’s population ages.

Another major topic of focus was the de-privatization of Hydro One.  Natyshak said the provincial NDP plans to take the value of the dividends the government has with its 42 per cent stake and buy back stock in the company.  That way, the public would become a majority owner and could deal with things, he said, such as “executive salaries, which are simply extravagant.”  He vowed to reduce Ontarians’ hydro rates by 30 per cent and eliminate time-of-use billing.

Natyshak said he tabled legislation last week that would refund hydro delivery fees for customers who experienced “frequent outages.”

“That’s a big issue here in Essex County,” he said.  “Hydro, across the whole province, needs to be fixed.  I see the path to do that. Seeing this many people turn out, I think they see it too.”

 

Natyshak seeks relief for flooding victims

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Some relief could be on the way for flooding victims if a bill introduced by Essex MPP Taras Natyshak gets the final OK.

A private members bill, known as Bill 179, was introduced Thursday and has passed second reading. The bill is geared towards not only helping reduce flooding, but to help expand the province’s Disaster Recovery Assistance Program and to prevent flood victims from being “penalized” by the insurance industry.

“The impetus of the bill is borne out of the flooding we’ve seen since 2006 including the fall of this year,” said Natyshak.

Natyshak said the first portion of his bill would change the Ontario Building Code and require new home builds have a 204-litre rain barrel to hold some of the water that accumulates during rain events.

“That first provision is neat because it is borne out of speaking with the FIRST Robotics team at Holy Names high school,” said Natyshak.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak

The students have been studying the issue of managing the increasing amount of rainfall in their community.

“These kids are so bright. They are creative and eager to learn and share their ideas,” said Natyshak. “I was blown away by their diligent research and have incorporated the rain barrels into the legislation I’m proposing to help families mitigate the damage that severe flooding has done to homes in this area in the past few years.”

While 204 litres may not seem like a lot, he said that adds up when multiplied over 1,000 homes.

According to a news release sent by Natyshak’s office, there is evidence that rain barrels can be an effective option. The release notes that in Wingham, 1,000 barrels were distributed and with a 58 per cent participation rate, the community saw a five per cent reduction in rainwater processed by the municipality’s storm water management system. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has also conducted two pilot studies on rain barrels; one in Stratford, PEI looked at the use of downspout-connected rain barrels in response to increased claims from extreme weather events and found damages to homes was significantly lessened.

“It’s a cheap solution to an expensive program,” he said.

Natyshak’s Bill amends three acts to further protect victims of flooding: the Insurance Act, Building Code Act 1992 and Municipal Affairs Act.

“It’s clear to me that people in this region are suffering as a result of climate change,” said Natyshak. “The amount of rainfall in the past few years has meant that more and more families have been forced to complete expensive repairs – and also that insurance companies are looking for new and creative ways to deny claims. This bill deals with that.”

The NDP MPP stated that people who may never have had a prior claim can have their claim cancelled or someone may be talked out of making a claim for fear their insurance could be cancelled.

“To me or to the people affected, that doesn’t seem fair,” said Natyshak. “They can’t control where the rain falls.”

There are concerns that entire neighbourhoods could be uninsurable if things don’t change, Natyshak suggested.

There would also be wider coverage to assist those who are impacted by sewer backups, he added, should be bill receive final approval.

The bill has received unanimous support in the Legislature thus far, said Natyshak, but “ultimately the ball is in the government’s court if it is to go any further. He is hopeful the bill will proceed and receive due process.

“It gets the issue on the radar for homeowners and politicians,” he added, of Bill 179. “There has to be something we can do. We can’t do nothing.”

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.”

Skate Amherstburg officially receives Ontario Trillium Foundation grant

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Skate Amherstburg received a $100,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation with Essex MPP Taras Natyshak helping them to celebrate.

Natyshak attended Skate Amherstburg’s “Mini Fun Competition” recently at the Libro Centre where he helped present awards to the skaters but also helped them celebrate the $100,000 OTF grant. Natyshak said he wanted to congratulate the skaters but also pointed out the OTF funding will help support them in their training all year round.

“I presented them a certificate recognizing the grant,” he said, adding he also wanted to thank the organization for its hard work.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak was on hand for Skate Amherstburg’s recent “Mini Fun” competition to present awards and to officially congratuate them on an Ontario Trillium Grant. From left: Paige Paquette, Regan Moniz, Lauren Coleman, Adelaide Hered, Alivia Piper, Zoe Zdzairski and Natyshak.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak was on hand for Skate Amherstburg’s recent “Mini Fun” competition to present awards and to officially congratuate them on an Ontario Trillium Grant. From left: Paige Paquette, Regan Moniz, Lauren Coleman, Adelaide Hered, Alivia Piper, Zoe Zdzairski and Natyshak.

Natyshak noted the contributions of the families in helping the young skaters as parents and grandparents “play an integral role” in their children’s success. Skaters will only get better if they continue to work at it and have fun.

“By practicing and practicing, they are going to get better at their sport,” said Natyshak.

Lauren Kawai, a board member and coach with Skate Amherstburg, said the grant money is being put to good use.

“It’s being used for programming and aligning the skate program with the long-term development model,” she said.

The Mini Fun Competition was for pre-junior and junior skaters.

“It’s just for fun,” said Kawai. “It gives young skaters a taste of the competition world.”

Natyshak appears before county council for annual update

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak appeared before Essex County council last Wednesday night to give an update on provincial issues and for municipal leaders to give updates to him.

Natyshak noted he meets with local politicians and officials regularly, citing ongoing discussions regarding the McGregor Health Centre. He said his annual visit to Essex County council was to gather feedback from the county’s mayors and deputy mayors as well as to brief them on updates from Queen’s Park.

The partial sell-off of Hydro One was raised by the NDP MPP, with Natyshak expressing concern over the impact it could have on rates. He believed it would not serve businesses or large industries well, either.

“It’s certainly the focus for a lot of debate at Queen’s Park,” Natyshak told county council.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak speaks to Essex County council at the March 16 meeting.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak speaks to county council at the March 16 meeting.

With Ontario moving towards a cap and trade program to combat greenhouse gas pollution, Natyshak outlined an issue with how the money raised through the program will be allocated. He believed revenue should be devoted to greenhouse gas emission reduction programs and not into general revenue where it could be used on other matters.

“If we are going to tackle climate change, it has to be focused and fair,” said Natyshak.

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara spoke on the cap and trade system, and wanted Natyshak to bring the message to Queen’s Park that “we are not to be left behind” on the matter.

McNamara also voiced concern with the level of grant money municipalities in this area of the province receive from the Ontario government, and also pointed out the area has needs as it pertains to social housing.

“In Windsor-Essex, we need help,” he said.

The area was not included in the province’s “innovation corridor,” McNamara added, but stated “no one grows agriculture like we do” and there is significant innovation within such industries as tool and mold, automotive and other fields of work.

“To be left out is a huge mistake,” said McNamara, who is also president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO).