Local MPP Sarah Campbell plans to keep busy this year, with plenty of issues to focus on in 2015.
Among those are the mill in Fort Frances and hydro rates.
“I definitely want to see a restart to the Fort Frances mill,” Campbell stressed.
“That’s is something I’m going to remain very active on,” she vowed.
“Working with the key players, the companies, the municipalities, as much as possible.”
Campbell also wants to see some movement on hydro bills and affordability.
“One of the things that was included in the Auditor General’s report that was released just before Christmas was that the $2 billion Ontario spent on the ‘smart meter’ program has actually proved to be not an effective use of money because the ‘smart meters’ are not actually conserving energy,” she remarked.
“So that’s $2 billion that’s right out the window.
“So I want to see some actual movement on hydro bills to make sure that the Town of Fort Frances is able to preserve its historic mill agreement,” she added.
Campbell also is focused on ensuring there is equitable access to health care and value for money.
“We have been seeing more and more erosion that is happening where some of the reciprocal agreements when people get referred to Manitoba,” she noted.
“I want to keep a very close eye on that and make sure we don’t see further erosion.
“And I want to make we have value for every dollar that is spent,” Campbell stressed, adding it’s been an ongoing issue in the province, especially with our very large debt.
She noted it also has been one of the key areas that was focused on by the Auditor General in her report just before Christmas.
“[The Auditor General] pointed out that Ontario could have saved $8 billion by not deciding to go with the private-public partnerships, and that we could have saved that $8 billion if we had done more of this stuff in-house or through public procurement,” Campbell explained.
“We need to look at our bottom line so that we can make sure that we’ve got more money to invest in key services that Ontarians rely on on a daily basis.”
Campbell also wants to ensure transparency within the government.
“The government has been saying they are transparent and then we’ve been finding a whole bunch of other things that they are not actually that transparent,” she remarked.
“I want to keep a keen eye on that.”
However, Campbell said she is expecting much of the same from the Wynne government in the new year.
“In the last session, what we saw was a government that was returned . . . that is very arrogant and out of touch,” she charged.
For instance, Campbell said it’s been standard practice for the government to “ram through” pieces of legislation.
“And what I mean by that is they’ve been cutting debate, they’ve been quick to push things through first, second, and third reading, and push things through into receiving royal ascent,” she explained.
“We’ve even seen that with pieces of legislation that have been problematic, such as the Child Care Modernization bill, which we received a fair amount of opposition about in this riding and from people across Ontario,” Campbell noted.
“One of the things we had asked for was for this government to create five or six dates and locations where the committee would travel around the province and actually hear from people so we can incorporate some of those deficiencies that people saw in the bill in the final product,” she indicated.
She added the government claimed the people had their say and went ahead with it as is.
“So that part is concerning,” said Campbell, adding she thinks we are going to see more legislation being rammed through this year.
“It points to a kind of arrogance and we-know-better [attitude],” Campbell argued. “We don’t necessarily need to listen to the voices and concerns of Ontarians.
“I think we’re going to see the same sort of mocking and belittling behaviour that we’ve seen in the chamber from this government when we’ve stood up and asked questions about serious issues,” she added, noting that included questions about the Fort Frances mill.
“I know I received a lot of that where the government was trying to kind of shirk some of its responsibility,” she said.
But Campbell pledges to continue to lobby for the causes that are important to this riding.
That’s why she hopes people of the district will take advantage of the finance committee’s visit to Fort Frances next Tuesday (Jan. 20).
“I think it’s important to hear from people in a variety of industries and from a variety of perspectives because I appreciate that they are coming to the north, that they are coming to Fort Frances,” Campbell said.
“But I’d really like to see people take the time—even it’s just a few sentences that they send off to the committee for their consideration,” she urged.
Although the deadline to request a presentation time slot formally has passed, written submissions still are being accepted until Jan. 30 at 5 p.m. (EST).
To have your written priorities considered by the committee, you can mail your thoughts to Katch Koch, clerk of the Finance committee, at Room 1405, Whitney Block, Toronto, Ont., M7A 1A2.
They also can be faxed to 1-416-325-3505 or submitted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org