New Democratic Party

Natyshak re-elected in Essex riding



By Ron Giofu


Taras Natyshak is heading back to the Legislature and this time, he’ll have to deal with a Progressive Conservative government.

The NDP incumbent retained his seat in Thursday’s provincial election, winning the Essex riding for the third time after also winning in 2011 and 2014. Natyshak’s closest challenger was Chris Lewis, with the PC candidate finishing 3,323 votes behind Natyshak.

NDP candidate Taras Natyshak will return as Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Essex after defeating three challengers June 7. He raises the arms of his wife Jennifer and his son Drake after entering Royal Canadian Legion Br. 399 in Belle River Thursday night.

Unofficial results show the NDP candidate had 26,054 votes (48.53 per cent of the vote) with Lewis having 22,731 votes (42.34 per cent). Liberal candidate Kate Festeryga captured 3,053 votes (5.69 per cent) and Green Party candidate Nancy Pancheshan had 1,853 votes (3.45 per cent).

Natyshak thanked his campaign team, his supporters and said he comes from a long line of “great MPP’s” the area, has had, listing the “ultimate gentleman” Bruce Crozier and his mentor Pat Hayes among them.

“It will be an honour to serve this region again in the provincial legislature,” said Natyshak.

The election of a Progressive Conservative majority government, under Premier-designate Doug Ford, was not the expected result, Natyshak admitted.

Taras Natyshak smiles as he delivers his victory speech Thursday night, June 7. Natyshak and his local NDP colleagues Lisa Gretzky and Percy Hatfield were re-elected but so was a Progressive Conservative majority province-wide.

“The results are a little disappointing,” he said, during his victory party at Royal Canadian Legion Br. 399 in Belle River. “We will hold this government accountable every day.”

Natyshak added that “we had hoped for better results” and acknowledged the Greater Toronto Area is the “key for electoral success.” He said the hope was the Liberals who were “abandoned” after outgoing premier Kathleen Wynne would support the New Democrats.

The NDP will be “strong opposition” in the Legislature, Natyshak pledged, as they will have a larger caucus and a “larger voice.”

“We don’t know where the province is going to go,” he said, stating there were only “vague details” in the PC platform. “It is going to be a new reality that we’re going to have to come to terms with, but New Democrats are prepared for it. I’m prepared for it.”

Key issues in the riding include continuing the expansion of Highway 3 and the new mega-hospital. Natyshak said promises were made during the campaign and he will continue to press for both items.

“We’re going to hold them to both commitments,” said Natyshak. “They have to happen immediately. There is no time for debate. If we don’t see them act with the urgency that we deserve, then we’ll see if their word is worth anything.”

NDP candidate Taras Natyshak cuts the cake after his victory in the Essex riding in the June 7 provincial election. It will be his third term as Essex MPP, as he also won in 2011 and 2014.

Natyshak, who was the labour critic in the last government, said his role will be whatever his constituents believe his role should be. He said he knew it would be a tight race and that his campaign team spread out their resources across the Essex riding. He also praised Lewis, Festeryga, Pancheshan and their teams for their efforts throughout the provincial election campaign.

Voter turnout in the riding of Essex was just shy of 58 per cent.

NDP incumbents Percy Hatfield and Lisa Gretzky won their respective ridings – Windsor-Tecumseh and Windsor West – while PC candidate Rick Nicholls won re-election in Chatham-Kent-Leamington.

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.”


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.”

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.