Budget delivers fair compromise

After a great deal of consultation with people across the Kenora-Rainy River riding, this past week I announced my decision to support the 2013 provincial budget.
This was not an easy decision to make. But after all factors were considered, I have no doubt it is the right one.
Since being elected, I’ve spoken to thousands of people across this riding who have said very clearly that it is time for the partisan games to stop, and that our elected officials need to roll up their sleeves and get to work.
This sentiment became stronger after Kathleen Wynne replaced Dalton McGuinty as premier. Despite ongoing frustration with the Liberals, the overwhelming majority of individuals told me they want to give the new premier a chance.
People across this riding want us to at least try to come up with a better deal for Northwestern Ontario, rather than focus on political games.
That is why I joined my NDP colleagues in priorizing a handful of practical and achievable goals for the budget to help make life better for people across the north, where nearly half of the party’s MPPs are based.
That is why we priorized issues such as improved access to home care, a 15 percent reduction of auto insurance rates, and a youth job creation strategy because these are the types of priorities that I’ve been hearing across our riding.
In fact, more than 90 percent of respondents to my pre-budget survey identified reduced auto insurance rates as a high or extremely high priority while the vast majority also supported improved access to home care and a job creation strategy to help retain young people in our region.
In fact, during a recent visit to Sioux Lookout during the RNAO’s “Take Your MPP to Work Day,” I heard about how one-third to one-half of patients currently admitted to the hospital were there because of a lack of access to long-term care and home care services, which are significantly less expensive services to provide.
With Premier Wynne willing to meet us halfway on these priorities, there was an overwhelming sense that we should support this budget and continue our important work.
This also is why we worked hard to ensure that the premier creates a Financial Accountability Office, which is an effective way to monitor proposed spending before money is spent.
I believe this office will go a long way toward preventing future spending scandals along the lines of Ornge, e-health, and the cancelled gas plants.
With the Liberals reluctant, and PCs altogether opposed to this measure, there is no guarantee this important initiative would be on the table following a general election. As MPPs, part of our jobs in Queen’s Park is to ensure that we do not repeat past mistakes, making this measure so important.
It is true we could have forced an election. But with the exception of making the province $100 million poorer, there is no guarantee anything would change.
Instead, I believe it is important that we continue to focus on delivering important results for people across Northwestern Ontario, and not on self-interested political maneuvers.

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