elow are the responses we have received from provincial election candidates from the four major parties at Queen's Park running in Willowdale. We will update this page as more answers come in.
Monica Henriques - Green 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?
Monica Henriques: The Green Party is committed to building 182,000 new permanently affordable community housing rental homes over the next decade, including 60,000 permanent supportive homes. In addition we would mandate inclusionary zoning and require a minimum of 20% affordable units in all housing projects above a certain size, and create a seed fund for co-operative housing. In order to continue to protect and expand supplies of affordable housing, we will renew 260,000 community housing units over the next decade, and work with non-profits, co-ops and community land trusts through measures such as access to capital to purchase rental buildings, exploring right-to-buy and facilitating the development process for nonprofits. Details available here in what has been termed our "master class" housing strategy: https://gpo.ca/platform/connected-communities/#address-the-housing-crisis.
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?
Monica Henriques: The Green Party would immediately repeal Bill 124 and the problematic sections of Bill 106 which placed unjust limits on collective bargaining. Mike Schreiner, the leader of the Green Party, has been consistent in standing up for nurses and has repeatedly called for the repeal of Bill 124 (https://gpo.ca/2022/02/22/schreiner-calls-on-ford-government-to-repeal-bill-124-and-support-nurses-mental-health/). Further details on our approach to creating an environment of respect for workers is available here: https://gpo.ca/platform/caring-society/#respect-workers-and-increase-economic-security, including other measures to protect precarious and Gig Workers, legislating 10 paid sick days, and increasing minimum wage.
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?
Monica Henriques: The Green Party strongly believes in addressing mental health crises and addictions at the root. While we do not have a specific policy to defund the police, we will focus on funding appropriate supports to redirect the response and avoid the need for justice system involvement.
For this reason we will invest in a 3 digit, 24/7 province-wide mental health crisis response line so callers can be diverted from 911 and connected to the most appropriate service. We will invest in the creation and expansion of 24/7 mental health focused mobile crisis response teams, crisis centres, rapid access addiction medicine clinics, and short-term residential beds across the province. We will work with the federal government to fast-track the decriminalisation of drugs and reallocate funding from the justice system to mental health care services. Additional initiatives such as building 60,000 permanent supportive housing spaces with wrap-around mental health and other supports, investing in more Youth Wellness Hubs, and enhancing mental well-being with connected communities and expanded access to nature trails, parks and protected greenspace will further alleviate the distress in our communities with an appropriate response.
The Hoser: 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.
Monica Henriques: Yes, several of the Green Party policies would invest in increasing safety and public health while at the same time addressing the climate crisis and improving funding for healthcare and education. For example:
- Address the repair backlog for Ontario public schools, providing funding for schools to make energy efficiency and ventilation improvements
- Cap class sizes at 24 for grades 4-8 (26 for kindergarten)
- Retrofit public buildings like schools to dramatically reduce their energy consumption,improve ventilation and make them more resilient
- Invest in hospitals and healthcare workers
- Evaluate the current pandemic response and prepare invest in readiness for the future
- Rapidly moving towards low carbon transportation options, including electric cars, buses, bikes and walking.
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?
Monica Henriques: Yes, the Green Party would increase the floor of the minimum wage each year by $1, starting at $16 in 2022, with a top-up in cities where the cost of living is higher. Other measures such as legislating 10 paid sick days, adding a program for portable health benefits for workers in the retail and hospitality sectors as well as Gig Workers, and phasing in a basic income program would also help to significantly improve economic security. Improving access to transit and improving housing affordability will also help to address the current significant challenges around cost of living. https://gpo.ca/platform/caring-society/#respect-workers-and-increase-economic-security