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FORUM: Five provincial issues to follow this fall (Aug. 2021)

September 8th, 2021 · No Comments

Provincial election is just months away

By Jessica Bell

With the provincial election coming fast and COVID in resurgence, this fall session at Queen’s Park will be impactful. Here are five issues to follow.

Our response to the fourth wave  

Since my children returned to daycare, our household has caught colds. Subjecting my children to the painful PCR test and then self-isolating is necessary – and disruptive.  It’s just one of many experiences I’m sure we are all having during this endless pandemic that leads us to ask, ‘surely there’s a better solution here?’ 

It is a milestone that 77 per cent of Ontarians have been fully vaccinated, but we need to reach 85 per cent to blunt Delta’s spread. 

The Ford government continues to be a laggard and not a leader in making the wise, tough decisions that will protect more Ontarians from COVID-19. We are calling for the government to implement a paid sick day program to limit spread in the workplace, a fair and logical vaccine passport program, and a safe school plan that includes smaller class sizes, good ventilation standards, and easy access to free rapid testing for the school community and more.   

Healing civil unrest

I have encountered anger and distrust of mainstream media, public health, and government at the door during this federal election. Our office is also receiving calls from constituents and businesses, especially in the Kensington and Chinatown area, who have been harassed, pushed, and insulted by people because they are wearing masks or implement public health rules in their workplace. 

To protect businesses from harassment, we are calling for the introduction of safety zones, similar to what exists around abortion clinics.  

Long term, there is a need to heal the growing social and economic divide in our society through a comprehensive economic recovery program, and more. I welcome suggestions on how our office can address this growing intolerance, and social and economic divide.  

Condo sector to be investigated

This October, I will be responding to the Auditor General’s investigation into the condo sector.  

This is important because many University-Rosedale residents, from Yorkville to Bay St, live in condos. 

The Auditor General found that condominiums are poorly regulated, and condo dwellers have little recource if they have complaints, from rigged board elections, to faulty construction, to big hikes in maintenance fees. 

My goal this fall is to introduce legislation to provide condo dwellers with better protection, and improve governance of the entire sector. 

Real rent control and speculation clamp down

Housing affordability remains a top issue.  I will be introducing a real rent control bill that places a cap on the amount rent can be increased between tenancies. 

My real rent control bill aims to stabilize housing costs for the 60 per cent of University-Rosedale residents who rent, and disincentivize landlords who illegally evict long-term tenants in order to raise the rent to market rents. 

 Canada’s real estate sector is a global hotspot for money laundering and fraud, as wealthy people are legally able to set up numbered corporations, trusts and partnerships in order to buy and sell property anonymously. 

This activity drives up housing prices well beyond what Ontarians can afford. 

To clamp down on tax evasion, fraud and housing speculation, I will be introducing a bill to establish a land owner registry that will list individual owners of all property across Ontario.  

Health care backlog

Ontario has a huge health care backlog caused by COVID-19 and chronically underfunds health care. 

The Ontario Medical Association calculates that over 477,000 people are waiting for an MRI, and a quarter of a million people are waiting for surgery, including cardiac surgery. 

These people are often depressed and in pain. To help us raise this issue in the legislature, we have a survey at www.jessicabellmpp.ca/surgerywaittimes that residents waiting for surgery can complete.  

We are calling for the Ford government to take meaningful action to reduce the health care backlog, just like the B.C. government has done.

Jessica Bell is MPP for University–Rosedale.

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Tags: Annex · Opinion