By MPP Toby Barrett
Reflecting on the last six months of 2019, animals were the topic of discussion as we moved into summer.
The OSPCA informed the Solicitor General it would no longer enforce the OSPCA Act. The OSPCA withdrew all responsibility for livestock and horse related issues and complaints. This triggered the implementation of the OSPCA Amendment Act as an interim solution. Through consultation with advocacy groups, humane societies, animal experts and the public, we developed an accountable, transparent and all-encompassing legislative framework for animal rights and animal welfare. As a result, our government passed the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act – an act that ensures the protection and well-being of all animals.
During 2019, I continued to promote ALUS, which stands for Alternate Land Use Services. With consent and cooperation from landowners/farmers, ALUS projects promote a healthy environment and good land stewardship.
On that note, phragmites continues to threaten Ontario. They have taken over our wetlands, invaded our ditches, and have been able to establish roots almost anywhere. Although our government spent nearly $2 million in 2019 on phragmites removal in our area, we must be vigilant in the future as the monster will return.
2019 brought us closer to better internet service for Norfolk County, through Request for Proposals for up to $8.3 million in broadband infrastructure. Norfolk is part of SWIFT – a partnership of Southwestern Ontario municipalities, also including Caledon, Six Nations, the Niagara Region, London, Waterloo and Windsor. Haldimand County did not opt into the SWIFT program; rather they have planned a separate initiative for internet service and connectivity.
The Fall Economic Statement presented a vision and a plan for what Ontario could be – a vision of an economy that is open for business and open for jobs. It is a vision of safe communities, strong healthcare, supportive social services, and good governance.
As announced in the Fall Economic Statement, we are now spending $1.9 billion more on health care.
We just learned a number of hospitals in Haldimand-Norfolk received funding through the Health Infrastructure Renewal Fund: Norfolk General received $2,061,365; Hagersville’s West Haldimand General Hospital received $442,544; and $722,010 went to Haldimand War Memorial in Dunnville. This builds on October’s $1.5 million announcement for Norfolk General; $118,000 for West Haldimand; and, $133,000 for Haldimand War Memorial Hospital.
Education-wise, post-secondary tuition fees have been cut by 10 per cent this year and will be frozen next year to reduce the costs of education that students and their families face. Our government remains committed to investing and providing the best possible education for all our students.
We are also proposing to cut the small business tax rate by 8.7 per cent – 275,000 small businesses across Ontario will benefit.
To date, actions to provide accelerated capital cost write-offs, cancel the cap-and-trade carbon tax, reduce WSIB premiums and other measures are saving Ontario businesses $5.4 billion this year alone.
The stage was set for devastation with Lake Erie at record highs through much of 2019. This, combined with winds that reached 100 km/h, created a storm surge that reached 1.5 meters on Halloween. As a result, break-walls were lost in Haldimand County, houses and businesses were flooded and water submerged roads across Haldimand-Norfolk.
I concluded my legislative year at Queen’s Park by introducing private members legislation titled ‘The Great Lakes Protection and Promotion Act’.
Looking forward to 2020!
Toby Barrett is MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk