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FORUM: Privatization, sprawl, and highways, oh my (Mar. 2024)

April 7th, 2024 · No Comments

Ford adds increased natural gas costs, and heath-care failures to the mix of misdeeds

By Jessica Bell

Premier Ford loves to say he’s getting stuff done. But who is Ford getting stuff done for, and how does it affect the rest of us? Here’s the latest roundup from Queen’s Park.

Is Highway 413 coming to a farm near you?

The Conservatives are moving ahead with building the controversial Highway 413, a $6 to $10 billion project that cuts through precious farmland and the Greenbelt.

Instead of building a highway we don’t need, let’s use the highways we’ve got. 

We are calling for the removal of tolls for transport trucks on Highway 407. Environmental Defense, who is supportive of this proposal, calculates this would move 12,000 to 21,000 trucks a day off Highway 401, cutting travel time for passenger vehicles by 50 per cent. 

Highway 407 is so underused you can land a plane on it in the middle of the day. Literally, a plane did land on Highway 407 in the middle of the day.

Gas prices could be on the rise.

The Conservatives have introduced Bill 165, the Keeping Energy Bills Down Act. It does quite the opposite.

The bill gives Enbridge the power to force existing customers to pay for its plan to expand gas infrastructure. That means you and I could be paying up to $600 more in our energy bills to fund Enbridge’s plan to build risky gas infrastructure and keep us hooked on gas.  

Ontario needs to rapidly move away from fossil fuel use and toward energy efficiency and green energy, installing heat pumps in homes, retrofitting homes and buildings, and encouraging local electricity generation. Other cities and states are doing it, and so can we. 

Sprawl 3.0. No thank you. 

I kid you not, the Conservatives are once again stealthily redrawing municipal boundaries in Halton, Waterloo, Peel, York, Wellington County, and more, to approve the construction of low-density single-family homes on nearby farmland.  

We are already hearing reports that some of the rezoned land is owned by PC party donors who stand to make a whole lot of money by having their land rezoned for development.  

The government’s own housing affordability task force says Ontario doesn’t need to pave over more farmland to build enough homes to meet demand because there’s enough land zoned for development. Toronto and Hamilton are two cities that are moving ahead with building more duplexes, triplexes, and apartments and are well on track to meet their housing targets. We can solve our housing crisis and protect our farmland at the same time.

It costs how much to go to a family doctor? 

In February, I held a press conference at Queen’s Park with former patients of the Taddle Creek Family Health Team who were suddenly left without a family doctor when their physician moved to a for-profit, executive health clinic called MDDirect. The clinic charges patients $4,995 per year just to see a family doctor. 

The rise in executive medical clinics like MDDirect are a warning that we are moving to a two-tiered health care system, where those with means get better access to the care, and the rest of us are left with less.  

In fact, many residents in University-Rosedale do not have a family doctor. 

This is Canada. We strive to build an excellent public health care system where you get good care based on need, not on how much you earn. 

The Canada Health Act is very clear. Health care providers cannot engage in extra billing or charge for medically necessary services like this.

 The government should be investigating these private clinics. They should be enforcing the Canada Health Act and banning exorbitant annual fees. And the government should be investing in primary care to ensure everyone in Ontario has a family doctor they can see with their OHIP card, not their credit card.

I want to thank the Annex residents who raised this issue with me. 

Jessica Bell is the MPP for University-Rosedale and the Official Opposition’s Housing Critic. She can be reached at or 416-535-7206. 


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