Every day more and more people come into our office for help. Times are hard for many of them. Good jobs that disappeared in the financial meltdown have not returned.
For those lucky enough to find work, jobs are temporary, part-time or at minimum wage. Many people work two and three jobs just to try and make ends meet.
At the same time the cost of essentials like electricity, home heating fuel and gasoline continue to rise.
These price hikes are compounded by the added burden of the HST.
My caucus colleagues and I have spoken against this unfair tax since its inception. Last September we launched our campaign to remove the HST from hydro and all home heating fuels.
Most families have seen large increases in their bills, even when they do their best to conserve. They are paying the HST on the debt incurred as a result of massive nuclear cost overruns. In fact, the average household is now paying about $800 more per year.
On top of this, drivers are faced with unprecedented increases in the cost of gasoline. The price at the pump goes up every day. Adding the HST to the cost of a litre of fuel has made sky high prices even less affordable!
What is worse is that most of the HST revenues have been used to offset huge corporate tax cuts of $2.2 billion. Worse still is that there is no evidence that any jobs are being created by those corporate beneficiaries!
Not a dime is going into our hospitals or ensuring sure we have sufficient primary care physicians. No revenues are being directed to the countless programs that benefit our frail and our elderly.
Linda Haslam-Steward of the Ontario Nurses Association had this to say: “Every Ontarian should brace themselves for yet more cuts to the health care they need and count on. ONA has been tracking the deletion of registered nursing positions for about eight months now. And we’ve seen more than 1,800 RN positions cut, totaling more than 3.5 million hours of patient are per year that are gone forever.”
So, this is the reality for most families in Beaches-East York:
First, they are affected by the world economic downturn to which Ontario has not yet fully recovered.
Secondly, they are hit with unfair new taxes on essentials like home heating fuels, hydro and gasoline for their cars. Third, they see much of the money going to pad corporate profits without creating new jobs or prosperity. Finally, they see the services upon which they rely being cut back.
Just yesterday, we witnessed an historic federal election. October 6 is Ontario’s next election date. The same people who contact our office every day will be looking for answers. They want assurances that our next government will be committed to creating good permanent jobs, securing livable pensions, providing decent and affordable health and long-term care facilities and, just as importantly, being on the side of consumers and taxpayers who must pay for it all.
The changes coming to Ottawa will be only the precursor of change that is coming to Ontario.