Speak up to make budget better

MPPs from across Ontario returned to Queen’s Park this week for a new session.
With a new premier (Kathleen Wynne) in place, there is much speculation about the weeks and months to come, particularly when it comes to the 2013 budget.
In addition to a new premier, Ontario has a new Finance minister (Charles Sousa) in place and this has led to a great deal of speculation about both the priorities Wynne and Sousa will bring to the table—and how willing they will be to listen to opposition parties in order to pass the 2013 budget and avoid an election.
At the same time, lobby groups and other organizations with resources at their disposal will try to find their way in the spotlight in an attempt to woo the media into making their particular issue a public priority.
For individuals or smaller organizations who lack the resources these other organizations have, it sometimes can seem daunting to get an issue of local or regional concern on the radar for lawmakers, but it doesn’t have to be.
My party and I also will be setting our own priorities based on the input we receive. To make sure your voice is heard, I’ve outlined some of the things you can do.
The first step is to contact me. Write a letter or e-mail expressing your concerns and opinions, or make an appointment to speak with me directly.
Writing a letter or e-mail carries a great deal of weight because it shows you are concerned enough to take the time to express your concerns. Two or three unique letters from concerned individuals carry much more weight than a few hundred form letters, where someone only took the time to type their name and e-mail address.
Another important step is taking the time to find people who share your concerns. Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and online message boards are a great place to meet other individuals who have the same priorities and co-ordinate your efforts, including letter-writing campaigns (although I once again would encourage supporters to put their concerns in their own words, circulating petitions across the province, or even co-ordinating protests across the province).
Also effective is circulating a petition and gathering signatures from fellow concerned citizens. Petitions are an effective way of showing support for a particular cause or action.
The rules for submitting a petition are available online at www.ontla.on.ca or can be obtained by contacting one of my constituency offices, where staff would be happy to assist you in drafting your petition.
While they may seem like an easy way to garner signatures, online petitions currently are not accepted at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
As always, I encourage you to speak up and let your voice be heard.
Your opinion is very important to me—and the only way to affect change is to speak up.