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NEWS: Candidates clash over climate platforms (Provincial Election 2022)

May 24th, 2022 · No Comments

PC candidate a no show, parties unite in opposition to Ford

By Carly Penrose

Only three of the University-Rosedale candidates running in the Ontario election this spring were present for the  University-Rosedale All Candidates Provinical Election Debate held Tuesday, May 10.   

Andrea Barrack for the Liberals, Jessica Bell, incumbent MPP for the NDP, and Dianne Saxe of the Green Party debated questions from the audience. Progressive Conservative candidate Carl Qiu was not present. One of the moderators, Rory Gus Sinclair, said organizers made multiple attempts to invite Qiu but received no response.

Topics covered were wide-ranging, but major themes included climate change, housing policy, and health care in Ontario.

The event was held over zoom and was organized by a collective of community organizations including residents’ associations and business improvement areas. At its peak, the event was attended by 85 community members. 


A major focus of the debate was the transition to clean and renewable energy. Ontario is one of the only provinces where emissions have increased since 2017. 

All three candidates pointed to Ford’s plan to increase investments in natural gas, which experts say could increase Ontario’s emissions by 300 to 400 per cent over the next decade. “It’s a totally stupid policy,” said Saxe.

Both Bell and Barrack were strongly opposed to expanding the gas grid and advocated for moving away from fossil fuels. They mainly support carbon pricing, active transportation, fewer cars on the road, and retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency.

Saxe was critical of the other parties’ climate plans, saying “the Liberal plan is about an eighth the size of what we need, the NDP plan financing doesn’t make sense.”

The Green’s plan, said Saxe, does acknowledge the importance of reforming the transportation and building industries, but goes further because it includes a legally binding climate budget that  would stipulate a set amount of carbon emissions that the province could not exceed. 

Saxe also said that Greens plan to increase carbon prices to $300 per tonne by 2032 to disincentivize large polluters. This would amount to a 600 per cent increase in carbon prices compared to the current federal rate which is at $50 per tonne.

Affordable Housing

All candidates expressed a need for increased housing supply and government policies that would make living in Ontario more affordable.

Bell, who said “the NDP is the working people’s party,” advocated for increasing the minimum wage to $20 per hour. 

She also advocated for building homes on public lands and for government-run housing. “It is absolutely vital that the government get back into the operation of building affordable homes,” said Bell. 

Barrack agreed that the minimum wage should be increased, though the Liberal plan involves an increase to $16 per hour, with region-specific wage rates based on the cost of living. 

The Liberal’s plan, said Barrack, includes a promise to build “1.5 million new homes in the next 10 years,” including “138,000 new, deeply affordable homes” with supportive housing and units for Indigenous peoples. 

The Green Party is also calling for “100,000 new, deeply affordable homes plus 60,000 supportive homes and 22,000 indigenous owned and run units specifically for indigenous people,” said Saxe.

Saxe said reliance on fossil fuels is driving up the cost of living and that increased efficiency, promised by the Green Party, would significantly reduce living costs. She also pointed to the Green Party’s promise to double ODSP rates, if elected.

Health Care

Barrack, who spent 10 years working in community health care, said the Liberals “will ensure that we have an additional 15 funded community health centers.” She said this would increase patient access to a primary care doctor and a team of professionals, while “building community cohesion.” 

Bell said Ontario has the lowest per capita health-care funding of any province in Canada and that an NDP government would change that.

She added that more needs to be done to attract and retain medical professionals and family doctors in the province. 

Saxe advocated for community-based wellness hubs and patient-centered care with an increased focus on mental health support. She said the climate crisis is a major cause of health problems, so decarbonization would also reduce health-care costs in the long term. 

Bell also promised an NDP government would repeal Bill 124 which limits possible salary increases for public sector employees, including nurses and other health-care workers, to one per cent per year. 

Other issues such as improvements to long-term care (less privatization), maintaining, but not increasing, nuclear energy facilities, and electoral reform, were largely points of agreement among the candidates.  

All three candidates had progressive policies and presented themselves in opposition to the Ford government. This stance would appeal to voters in the riding since they have not voted Progressive Conservative since 1995. 


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