Expansion of medicare, child care, among Liberal promises

By Roderick Benns

Expansion of medicare, child care, among Liberal promises
Liberal candidate Brooklynne Camp-Waldinsperger.

Three community groups — The Access to Permanent Housing Committee, the Kawartha Lakes Food Coalition and the Haliburton County FoodNet – posed questions on poverty, housing, and food insecurity to candidates in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock running for office in this provincial election. In this installment, we hear from Liberal candidate Brooklynne Camp-Waldinsperger.

 What will your party do to increase and maintain access to affordable, safe housing, in addition to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Canada-Ontario Investment in Affordable Housing Agreement?

Camp-Waldinsperger: Many families are finding it difficult to secure and sustain housing in Ontario. Our party recognizes this challenge facing Ontarians.

Since 2003, the City of Kawartha Lakes Service Manager has received over $29 million in funding for affordable housing, of which $12.8 million has been contributed by the province.

As a result, 156 affordable units have been created, 416 affordable units have been repaired, 86 households were provided down payment assistance, and 204 evictions have been prevented.

The impact of rent control has increased Ontarians’ ability to secure affordable housing, the 1991 exemption did not achieve its core objective of encouraging rental housing.

To improve access to affordable housing, we have invested over $743,000 in the City of Kawartha Lakes Service Manager as part of the Investment in Affordable Housing program between 2011-2015.

Since 2014-2015, we have committed to invest over $8.4 million in the City of Kawartha Lakes, as part of our Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative program; an initiative which helps individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. By 2019-2020, Ontario will be providing over $338 million in annual funding to communities to empower them in the fight against homelessness.

What strategies will your party implement to make hydro affordable?

Camp-Waldinsperger: As part of the Fair Hydro Plan, Ontarians are saving an average of 25% on their hydro bills. The Ontario Liberal government has also provided extra relief to those facing the highest delivery costs in the province. This includes a rural customers of Hydro One whom, through our new program, are expected to save an additional $20 per month. This is in addition to the 25% savings households are receiving. As a result, some customers’ savings could reach as high as 40-50%.

We understand that hydro rates create a challenge for rural Ontarians, but it should be noted that MPP Laurie Scott voted against the Fair Hydro Plan and are only promising a 12% saving on hydro bills.

Does your party support income based solutions to address poverty such as a Basic Income Guarantee? 

Camp-Waldinsperger: Yes. In 2017 our government launched a pilot program of Basic Income Guarantee to study how basic income could better support vulnerable workers, improve health, education and housing outcomes for people with low incomes. While some may say that helping 4,000 people is a small number, our program aims to study this program for 3 years, the findings of which will guide broader change across the income security system and allow us to help inform long-term plans for Ontarians.

Will your party support modernization & increased rates of social assistance as well as adequate wages that reflect a living wage to allow low-income earners to meet their basic needs?

Camp-Waldinsperger: In the 2018 budget we committed to investing $2.3 billion over the next 3 years to support a significant start on reform. This includes raising social assistance rates by 3 per cent a year over 3 years and moving to a standard flat rate system by year 3.

Our plan means more money in the hands of those relying on social assistance, not just through an increase in rates, but through broader reforms, including the elimination of punitive rules, and increases to earnings exemptions.

We have also committed to raising the minimum wage. This year in January 2018 we raised it to $14.00 an hour and will increase it to $15.00 an hour in January 2019. I contrast, the Conservatives voted against the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act and have promised to delay this wage increase by four years and as Laurie Scott stated, “Really, when the government says they hit the right spot, I would say the government is actually harming the people it purports to help by doing this increase so quickly.” (October 4, Bill 148 debate.)

How will your party ensure people have adequate incomes to meet their basic needs including covering the cost of nutritious food?

Camp-Waldinsperger: We are working with our partners to develop a food security strategy that addresses physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food; including in remote First Nations communities. Funding for this strategy was announced in the 2018 budget.

What would you do to increase accessibility or reduce barriers to accessing these services?

Camp-Waldinsperger: All Ontarians deserve access to high-quality health care. Patients come first and every decision we make is centered around helping people and providing quality and convenient care. Since 2003 we have increased our investments in healthcare each and every year, allowing us to treat more patients. With the 2018 budget, we have committed an additional $5 billion in our health care system over the next 3 years, with a plan hire an additional 3,500 nurses.

Will your party continue to support programs that cover prescription medication for people under 25, seniors, and people on social assistance?

Camp-Waldinsperger: Yes. Ontario Liberals have led the largest expansion in medicare in a generation. OHIP + was first introduced to provide free prescriptions to children and youth under the age of 25, and in, 2019 this will be extended to seniors as well.

OHIP+ is giving young people access to more than 4,400 medications, removing a financial burden for their families.

Would your party expand coverage for individuals between age 25 and 64 who do not have private insurance?

Camp-Waldinsperger: Yes. We’re moving closer to the goal of pharmacare for all Ontarians.

One in five people in Ontario don’t visit a dentist due to cost. What will your party do to make oral health care accessible for those who can’t afford private dental insurance?

Camp-Waldinsperger: In the 2018 budget, we committed to providing Ontarians without private workplace insurance affordable access to dental care. Under the program, families would pay upfront and be reimbursed up to 80% of the yearly cost to a maximum of

Single: $400
Couples: $600
Families: $50 for each child
Families would be able to also pool their reimbursement cost for family members who may need extensive dental work.

How will your party address the need for affordable childcare for working parents and those wishing to continue their education?

Camp-Waldinsperger: As a Liberal government, we are committed to making high-quality licensed child care free for preschool children between the ages of 2 and a half to kindergarten starting in 2020. The Conservatives voted against the Child Care and Early Years Act which brings better oversight of children’s safety in child care. This program will invest $2.2 billion over 3 years that will help parents save an estimated $17,000 per child and allow parents to go back to work or continue their education to help give their children the best start in life.

In 2018, the total funding for child care is $7.6 million, an increase of 31% since 2016. The funding includes $1.2 million for the first 2 years of our child care expansion plan. In Trillium Lakelands DSB, the Scott Young Consolidation will create 3 child care rooms, with 49  spaces for children. The addition of the Bobcaygeon Project creates 2 child care rooms with 25 new spaces, while the Minden Project will create 3 child care rooms, with 49 spaces.

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