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FORUM: What kind of province do we want? (March 2018)

March 22nd, 2018 · No Comments

A case for inclusivity and fairness

By Jessica Bell

I’ve been a community organizer and an executive director of non-profits for nearly 20 years, winning real change for human rights and the environment.

In Toronto, I co-founded a transit advocacy organization, TTCriders, because Toronto needs an affordable world-class public transit system. I was inspired to start TTCriders because its mission upholds my values: my lifelong commitment to tackling climate change, to building thriving, green, people-friendly cities, and to solving poverty.

Under the cranes and shiny condos, people are dying on the streets because community housing is crumbling and rents are skyrocketing.

We have racked up victories. We shamed the Liberal government into lowering the fare on the UP Express so Torontonians can afford to ride the train we paid to build. Government funding to the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has increased. And city council said yes to fare discounts for low-income riders, and two-hour fares.

It’s my experience working with people to get results that I will bring to the job as your representative at Queen’s Park. I can’t wait to get started.

Queen’s Park has so much power over our lives. It’s at Queen’s Park where I will continue to improve public transit because the New Democratic Party (NDP) will match the city’s funding contribution to the TTC so riders can have much better service.

It’s at Queen’s Park where we will improve our schools. I want my kids to get the best public education possible. That gets difficult when classrooms are overcrowded, up to 600 schools could be up for closure, and schools can’t afford to do basic repairs, like removing lead from the pipes so our kids have safe drinking water. The Ontario Government admits that many schools in our area, including Clinton Street Junior Public School and King Edward Junior and Senior Public School, are in critical condition.

Children are our future. The NDP will fix the school funding formula so schools have more resources, put a moratorium on school closures, and require local developers to pay their fair share to maintain local schools.

It’s at Queen’s Park where we can build a fair economy. Almost every new job in Ontario has been a precarious job, a casual job, or a minimum wage job since 2008. These are not jobs that let you save for a house, or children, or retirement. Yet, at 10:57 a.m. on January 2, Canada’s top 100 CEOs had already earned $49,738, which is what the rest of us, on average, make in a year. This inequality happened under a Liberal government.

The NDP stands for workplace fairness before and after elections. We will raise the minimum wage to $15, with no exemptions. We will require that temporary workers are paid the same as permanent workers, and will make it easier for workers in all sectors to choose to join a union.

It’s at Queen’s Park where we will improve health care. I lived in the United States for seven years and experienced the cruelty of private healthcare. No one should have to worry about money when they’re fighting for their lives.

Privatization and funding cuts are eroding our cherished universal health care system.

An NDP government will introduce universal pharmacare so everyone can access essential medications using their OHIP card instead of their credit card.

We’ll also increase funding to hospitals to reduce wait times and improve health care.

It’s at Queen’s Park where we must tackle Toronto’s housing crisis. Under the cranes and shiny condos, people are dying on the streets because community housing is crumbling and rents are skyrocketing — it was just reported that the average rent for a one-bedroom condo jumped 15.4 per cent last year.

Many Torontonians, including myself, have given up on homeownership, and the stability it provides, because housing prices are out of control. At the door, renters tell me again and again they hope their landlord doesn’t evict them because they can’t afford the neighbourhood anymore. I tell them that’s my experience too, and we are going to fix that issue together at Queen’s Park.

Housing is a human right. The NDP will contribute a third of the costs to community housing, and introduce strong inclusionary zoning rules, which require developers to make a portion of any new housing development affordable.

On June 7, 2018, you have a choice to make. You can choose between the Wynne Government, which has disappointed. You can choose the Conservatives, who will cut education and healthcare. Or you can choose to elect an effective local representative and the NDP, a party that stands up for us. It would be an honour to work with you.

Jessica Bell is the provincial New Democratic Party candidate for University-Rosedale.



FORUM: Making Ontario a green leader (Jan. 2018)

FORUM: Fairness and cleaner air (Dec. 2017)

Tags: Annex · Opinion