By MPP Toby Barrett
As with the previous year, the winter and spring of 2018 left me little choice but to pressure the government on a series of issues plaguing constituents here in Haldimand-Norfolk.
One of the biggest issues early in the year was the potholes on Highway 6. The previous government committed to fixing the highway two years prior but it wasn’t until January I learned the Minister of Transportation had delayed maintenance and reconstruction due to archeological work. The Ministry eventually fixed the potholes. I will continue to pressure the Ministry of Transportation to find measures to make our highways safe – given the tragedies on Highway 6 and Highway 24.
One of last year’s big debates was the increased minimum wage. Area small business and farmers were worried they would lose their livelihood. It quickly became apparent the very people the government was claiming to help were indeed the ones that would be the most negatively impacted. During testimony before the Finance Committee, it was reiterated time again that the disadvantaged and those with disabilities would be the first to become unemployed.
Last February, Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office (FAO) report on the privatization of Hydro One found more evidence of the government’s bungling of the electricity file. The FAO found it would have been more economical to finance infrastructure projects through debt than selling off Hydro One to raise the money.
March saw me table a motion in the Ontario legislature calling on government to provide tax relief. I proposed government reduce taxes where feasible, and not introduce any new provincial taxes or raise existing provincial taxes – including but not limited to, any personal income taxes, business taxes, corporate taxes, or carbon taxes. The Liberals and NDP ensured my motion was defeated.
March then saw the government present a ‘spend-to-get votes budget’. As I countered at the time, this government had 15 years to make change for the better; but rather they saddled us with broken promises, longer hospital wait times, and the most expensive electricity rates in North America resulting in families struggling to make ends meet.
The month of May saw the release of the report from the Lyme disease and Tick-Borne Illness Task Force. In 2015, I introduced a Private Member’s Bill an Act to Require a Provincial Framework and Action Plan Concerning Vector-Borne Diseases, calling for the establishment of a provincial action plan.
Later year, Canada-US trade concerns were at the forefront. I attended a number of NAFTA-related meetings in the US. No other country buys more goods and services made in the USA than Canada—something in the order of $322 billion a year. As a result, Canada supports close to nine million US jobs.
At the state and provincial level, elected representatives agree—and the numbers speak for themselves— trade results in prosperity and good-paying jobs. Restricting Canada-US trade and retaliating in kind suffocates that very prosperity and kills those good-paying jobs.
The winter and spring of 2018 continued our time in opposition. The summer and fall of 2018 brought in our majority government. Next week we will look at some of the changes under our new administration.
Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk