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.”


Ramsay, Natyshak hold Christmas open house



By Ron Giofu


Everyone from community leaders to the general public shared the Christmas spirit with the area’s two elected officials from the upper tiers of government.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak co-hosted a Christmas open house at Ramsey’s office with the New Democrats looking back on 2017 as well as ahead to 2018.

Natyshak said he was able to achieve some legislative highlights provincially, including the bill he tabled to assist flooding victims in the county. Not only does that bill try and take measures to tackle the issue of flooding, but it also helps protect flooding victims from poor treatment from insurance companies.

“That’s something I was pretty proud to have passed,” he said.

Legislation regarding the extension of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for first responders was another achievement. Natyshak pointed out that work involved probation and parole officers, police services and now also includes bailiffs and special constables. Should they suffer from PTSD, it would be presumed they acquired it on the job. Natyshak notes that bailiffs, special constables and those in similar positions often see “horrific scenes” in the duties they are performing for the public and need their mental health needs looked after as well.

Natyshak, first elected in 2011, said just being able to help people is one of the highlights of the job.

“The joy is just being able to serve every day on behalf of the people of Essex,” said Natyshak. “The ability to help individuals is always going to be a powerful and special thing.”

Windsor-Essex County is “the best place in Canada to live,” he believed, and “the reason it is the best is because of the people who live here.

“I’m just so proud to be a part of the community and to represent this community,” he said.

2018 is an provincial election year but aside from that, Natyshak said the area’s economic metrics are improving.

“I think the sky is the limit for this community,” he said.

The vision remains to have quality education, health care and infrastructure and Natyshak believes those can be accomplished by working together.

“There are many highlights for 2017,” stated Ramsey.

The first item she mentioned was being able to bring new federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to the area. One of his recent stops was at an agricultural facility, and Ramsey said agriculture is another one of her highlights for 2017.

“I’m proud of the relationships I’ve built with the agricultural community,” said Ramsey, noting she toured several facilities and farms earlier this year with Natyshak.

Ramsey said she is also proud of the work she has done helping seniors and working with her team to find solutions for their issues. She noted the NDP has a national pharmacare motion tabled in the House of Commons and she is proud of that as well.

Seniors have difficult choices to make, including whether they can afford medical needs such as prescriptions. Dental care for seniors is another issue she wants to work towards.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and Essex MP Tracey Ramsey co-hosted a Christmas open house at Ramsey’s office in Essex. The two NDP representatives have offices side-by-side.

Health of the Great Lakes is another file she has worked on and will continue to work on. Ramsey noted there was a tri-level meeting in her office this year on the issue and the work continues to find solutions to such issues as algae blooms and overall health of the lakes.

“Our communities are surrounded by water.”

The re-negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is something the NDP is carefully watching closely as well, Ramsey noted, adding that she has been sharing the area’s concerns as well as hearing the concerns of others during trips to Mexico and Washington. She said the United States has taken positions that Canada can’t accept but hopes the end result can still be one that is better than the current free trade agreement.

The current agreement doesn’t do enough to protect the environment or working people, she said.

“We’re pushing for a better NAFTA because there are flaws in the agreement that need to be fixed,” said Ramsey.

Ramsey added that she is watching the NAFTA negotiations for things that are important to local residents as well including issues that may impact the flow of people and goods across the border.

The other major highlight for Ramsey was going around the area for Canada 150 celebrations. Whether it was in Amherstburg or elsewhere in the county, Ramsey said she enjoyed seeing how the region celebrated the nation’s 150th birthday

Essex MP finds 2017 federal budget “disappointing”



By Ron Giofu


The release of the 2017 federal budget, which was last Wednesday, hasn’t overly impressed the Member of Parliament for Essex.

Tracey Ramsey said the 2017 budget that the governing Liberal Party presented is largely a rehash of the Liberals’ 2016 budget. She said there is some investment but it is “back-ended” over a ten-year period.

“The budget overall is disappointing,” said Ramsey.

Ramsey said the 2016 budget outlined issues relating to families, and she was hoping for more aid and relief for seniors in the 2017 budget.

“There’s nothing for seniors,” the NDP MP told the River Town Times.

Essex MP

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey

There is also little for small business and rural communities, she added.

“Again, there are campaign promises not coming through.”

Ramsey stated in a press release: ““The Liberals’ infrastructure privatization scheme ignores the needs of rural communities. Essex County needs investments in rail, highways and transit — not more user fees and tolls. Families and the seniors who built our country are deeply concerned about the high cost of living, but this budget does little to build a fair economy that lifts everyone up. The budget also missed a key opportunity to deliver a PACA-type program for produce farmers.”

The Liberals have placed Canada in “a large deficit” and Ramsey stated it is larger than originally anticipated. Promises to create jobs and invest in infrastructure haven’t been materializing like they should.

Full-time, good paying jobs aren’t being created like they should be, said Ramsey.

“Unfortunately the jobs we are seeing are part-time and precarious,” she told the RTT. “People’s lives aren’t improving overall.”

The NDP also wants to see stock option tax loopholes closed, with Ramsey stating that there is “a serious missed opportunity” by not doing that. If such loopholes are closed, more money could be put back into the pockets of seniors, veterans and every other Canadian citizen.

One of the infrastructure needs that has to be looked after is short-line railroads, with Ramsey stating that Essex Terminal Railway (ETR) wants to upgrade some of its rail lines in the area. That includes a line in Amherstburg.

Investing in short-line railroad is “critical to attracting new investment to the region,” said Ramsey.

There is a portion of the 2017 budget devoted to affordable housing, she continued, but much of that is “back-ended” as well. More needs to be done there as well as with child care as solutions need to be found for people in southwestern Ontario.

A “small amount” of cash is devoted to pharmacare but that is “far short” of where it should be, Ramsay added.

There also isn’t a strong enough commitment to the automotive sector, she added, and that the NDP want a federal manufacturing strategy. She said there is a lot of talk in the budget about innovation but no one innovates like the manufacturing industry.

“The NDP would like to see a manufacturing strategy from the government,” she stated.

The budget has “a lot of aspirations, but not a lot of concrete plans,” Ramsey added.

Natyshak, Ramsey open doors to constituents, look forward to 2017


By Ron Giofu


The federal and provincial representatives of the Essex riding held a joint open house Friday evening to wish everyone the best of the holiday season and to look forward to 2017.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and their staffs welcomed constituents with the two New Democrats agreeing that assisting the people in the riding trumps accomplishments they may have made in the House of Commons and Legislature respectively in 2016.

“Highlights for me are not necessarily the stories that you would even hear about,” said Natyshak. “They are the people that come into our office to tell about what is important to them. To see them get their issues resolved and to give them and their families support is the highlight.”

Natyshak said it has been an easier task with a federal NDP colleague right next door.

“People come in here and put a lot of trust in us,” added Ramsey.

Ramsey said people come in looking for answers and “we do everything to help them.” She added she is completing her first full calendar year and there is much co-operation with Natyshak’s office.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey (left) and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak held a Christmas open house Friday night in Essex. The federal and provincial members have their office side-by-side, which they say helps them meet the needs of the constituents of the Essex riding.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey (left) and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak held a Christmas open house Friday night in Essex. The federal and provincial members have their office side-by-side, which they say helps them meet the needs of the constituents of the Essex riding.

Seniors are struggling in the Essex riding, Ramsey said, and pointed out that a seniors teleconference was so popular that they couldn’t take enough calls. She added there are still federal employees seeking their rightful pay but added there were a number of local jobs added through the Canada summer jobs program.

Skyrocketing hydro rates continue to dominate the provincial agenda, Natyshak stated.

“People can’t afford to turn on their lights,” he said, calling the ability to turn on lights a “basic” of living.

“We’re hearing that from all segments of the community,” said Natyshak. “They are mad and they have a right to be.”

Natyshak added that “costs are out of control” and that the NDP is fighting in the Legislature against a government that “continues to make wrong decisions.” He said they are firmly opposed to selling off Hydro One.

“We know privatization of electricity costs will be more than publicly generated electricity costs,” he said.

Ramsey said youth are also struggling in the riding, as many of them have to have multiple jobs to make ends meet. She hopes to make that a bigger priority in 2017.

“These are people who went to school and paid a lot of money to educate themselves,” she said.

Having families and new homes are out of reach for many of those people, Ramsey added.

Both politicians state they want to work more with the local community in 2017. Natyshak noted there are already people doing well regarding social policy and economic development and they are looking to bring their ideas to both levels of government. Ramsey said they will look at every avenue to push ideas through for the people of this community.


Federal budget has “a lot of missed opportunities,” says Essex MP



By Ron Giofu


The Trudeau Government’s federal budget is lacking in some key areas, according to Essex MP Tracey Ramsey.

“My general overview is that there are a lot of missed opportunities,” the NDP MP stated.

Some of the “missed opportunities” were in areas where the Liberals could have done more to “tackle inequality,” she stated, also accusing the government of “backtracking on key commitments.”

“Families in Essex are worried about their jobs and struggling to make ends meet but this budget told them they would have to wait longer for help,” said Ramsey. “The government missed an opportunity to really deliver change.”

Helping families find affordable child care was one area where the Liberals didn’t deliver, Ramsey said. She said families with two parents working shiftwork or where parents have to piece together two or three part-time jobs to make ends meet makes it difficult to find childcare.

“Trying to find childcare is really challenging,” said Ramsey.

The Liberal budget failed to make promised investments to improve home care access for seniors, restore home mail delivery or lower the small business tax rate, she added.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey

Regarding the home care issue, Ramsey said the Liberals promised $3 billion over four years doesn’t appear in the budget.

“There’s nothing,” she said.

Agriculture was also absent from the budget, Ramsey added. She said family farmers are hurt by “Liberal inaction on PACA or CETA compensation.” It wasn’t the first time since the Liberals took office that agriculture was not mentioned, she added.

“It was shocking to me when we heard the Throne Speech and agriculture was not mentioned,” she said. “Here we are with the budget and again it’s not mentioned.”

The government also continued the longstanding Liberal and Conservative practice of raiding the EI fund, she stated, with that resulting in “taking almost $7 billion contributed by workers and businesses and using it for general government revenues.

“I can’t believe the Liberals are repeating the mistakes of the past,” she said.

While investments were made, Ramsey said they fall far below $7 billion and she feared a two-tiered system was on the horizon. Four in ten Canadians can access EI and “money is going to be skimmed out of it again.”

The federal budget “also missed a key opportunity to fix problems with the Automotive Innovation Fund,” she added.

There are good things about the budget, she pointed out, including expansion of broadband internet. She said there are still areas of the riding that don’t have high speed internet.

The reopening of a local veterans affairs office is also pleasing but hopes it comes sooner rather than later.

“I’m very happy to see the reopening of that office,” said Ramsey. “It’s desperately needed.”

Ramsey said she reached out to municipalities within the riding to gauge their needs prior to the budget and pledged to continue to work with them. Infrastructure promises fell “far short” of what was expected and there was “no plan” revealed as to how and when municipalities can access infrastructure dollars.

“Every budget is about choices,” concluded Ramsey, “and Liberals have chosen tax breaks to CEOs and profitable corporations over helping seniors, farmers, and the unemployed.”