elow are the responses we have received from provincial election candidates from the four major parties at Queen's Park running in Scarborough Southwest. We will update this page as more answers come in.
Lisa Patel - Liberal Party Candidate
The Hoser: The federal government divested from a responsibility to build public housing in the early 1990s, downloading the responsibility to provinces and municipalities. If your party forms government, how many units of public housing can you commit to building in your first term?
Lisa Patel: There are two necessities in life and that is food and shelter. I strongly believe in the importance of public housing for a safe and stable environment. A roof over your head is vital to your health; that includes mental health; personal safety, and the ability to pursue an education or career. My party and I care about the residents of Scarborough Southwest and the people of this province. We care about their safety and well-being. Housing affordability in Ontario is concerning. Numerous individuals and families are increasingly vulnerable to homelessness. If no immediate action is taken, this issue will only worsen with lasting effects on future generations.
The Ontario Liberal Party aims to build 138,000 affordable homes. I am certain that with my experience as the immediate past President of the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB), along with many housing stakeholders and including working with local communities on where and how to build more homes, so and assist in ensuring they have the resources they need to approve housing as quickly and responsibly as possible. In collaboration with municipal partners to end exclusionary zoning and allow homes with up to three units and two storeys to be built as-of-right in residential areas across the province. We’ll also encourage the development of low-rise ‘missing middle’ multiplexes and other mid-rise housing options near rapid transit stations and routes through neighbourhood transition zones. I can help navigate the system and be a strong voice for Scarborough Southwest at Queen’s Park, tackling the housing crisis, head-on. My personal commitment is to help improve the level of communication with the Scarborough Southwest residents as we work together on many initatives to help Scarborough Southwest be enhanced and thrive.
The Hoser: Bill 124 has frozen public sector wage increases at 1 percent since 2019. Inflation has climbed upwards of six percent in 2022. Will your government keep Bill 124 as provincial law? If not, will you legislate any limitations to public sector workers’ collective bargaining rights?
Lisa Patel: Bill 124 has resulted in health care workers feeling underappreciated and disrespected as it caps salary increases at one percent, far lower than the rate of inflation. Health care workers specifically deserve the utmost respect and dignity for the sacrifices they make and the exhaustion and stress they encounter. This is especially true in the last few years with the pandemic: the number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario overwhelmed the provincial health system, particularly in Scarborough and the GTA.
Ontario’s cost of living has skyrocketed in recent months and the government needs to step in to help ensure people earn a proper living wage. Our plan is to give $25/hour raises to PSWs and increase wages for health care workers across home and community care, long-term care and hospitals. We also intend on repealing the wage capping Bill 124 and even sections of Bill 106 gutting the pay equity act.
The Hoser: Communities and advocates concerned with police violence have for years been demanding a defunding of police services, rerouting that money to public social services. Is this a policy your government would pursue? If so, how much money would you reallocate from current provincial policing budgets?
Lisa Patel: The current government has failed to take initiative and fight police violence, brutality and the painfully obvious systemic racism faced in Ontario.
The number of hate crimes in Ontario has risen dramatically amidst the pandemic, gravely affecting our Asian, Black, Muslim and Jewish communities. The Ontario Liberal’s plan includes reversing Conservative funding cuts by supporting anti-racism programs and investing in police forces who resemble the community they serve.
We will also support Black entrepreneurs and small businesses. Moreover, we intend on creating a new fund to hire more diverse and underrepresented police officers and provide regular training on mental health, cultural sensitivity, anti-racism and de-escalation.
Considering that COVID is airborne and cases are once again quite high, will your government make any investments in retrofits or building new hospitals, schools, public transit vehicles, or any other large-scale investments related to public health, indoor crowding and ventilation?
Our primary concerns are the safety of our community, minimizing COVID-19 cases, and earning individuals’ lost trust. We believe the incentives we will offer provide a sense of direction and clarity in these unprecedented times.
Regarding health services, we aim to hire 100,000 new health care workers including internationally trained graduates and hire and train 3,000 mental health workers, with an additional 1,000 for schools. We will also guarantee access to primary care within 24 hours, and renovate and fund our Scarborough hospitals which as many of us have observed, seem to be last in line for provincial funding...until now.
Our youth each have unique needs and strengths they bring to school and higher learning institutions. We want to ensure students get the best learning support possible. To accomplish this, we will fund $10 billion to help build and repair our schools, funded by scrapping Highway 413. Our plan includes hiring 10,000 teachers, capping class sizes to 20 students and fully funding an optional Grade 13 to give students who want it, the chance to catch up.
To improve public transit, we aim on adding a Durham-Scarborough Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Line connecting to Oshawa and fund an Eglinton East LRT (Kennedy to Malvern). Transit riders can also expect to pay a buck a ride everywhere in Ontario until 2024, making transportation more affordable.
The Hoser: As of 2021, the living wage in Toronto was over $22 an hour. In all major cities and towns in the province, the $15/hr minimum wage is below a living wage. Inflation is now upwards of six percent, and scheduled wage increases and cost of living adjustments are not keeping up. Is your government committed to getting minimum wage levels to a living wage? If not, why?
Lisa Patel: COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on Ontarian’s financial stability and past decisions to scrape minimum wage increases, paid sick days and worker protections have made the ability to make ends meet even more challenging. Our Liberal Plan for Economic stability and Dignity aims to give much-needed relief to the workers, businesses and families of Ontario and its future generations.
We plan on increasing the minimum wage to $16 an hour and developing a living wage structure that provides affordable wages to people, allowing them to live in different regions of Ontario. Moreover, we aim to ensure production quotas are fair and safe, protect gig workers and bring back equal pay for equal protection and work for on-call workers. Previous elimination of Ontario’s paid sick day, greatly affected individuals. Therefore, we want to provide 10 paid sick days for all workers and ban the requirement of doctor’s notes. Right now, half of working people in Ontario don’t have access to workplace benefits such as mental health, vision and dental care. We will create a package including all those portable benefits.