Flawed process for OPP Commissioner appointment must be fixed

QUEEN’S PARK — Mike Schreiner released the following statement following the release of Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake’s report regarding Premier Doug Ford:

“I want to thank the Integrity Commissioner for conducting a thorough investigation; an investigation that validates my position that the hiring process for the OPP Commissioner was deeply flawed.

The separation of political interference from the police is a fundamental principle of our democracy. It separates us from countries where corrupt leaders use the police to do their dirty work.

Just today, the Premier threatened to go to the OPP against the opposition. How would it look if the Premier’s close family friend had to make the call on whether to answer the Premier’s request for an investigation?

It’s obvious to everyone but the Premier that it is wrong for him to hire a family friend to lead the OPP.

It is wrong for the Premier to pick and choose which parts of this report he likes.

We need MPPs from all parties to work on legislation to implement the Commissioner’s recommendations to fix the flawed process that led to this scandal in the first place.”

Bigger classrooms won’t benefit students

QUEEN’S PARK — Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner released this statement following Minister Thompson’s appearance on CBC’s Metro Morning today:

“Increasing class sizes will lead to job cuts and fewer teachers to educate students.

It’s absurd for the Minister of Education to claim that increasing class sizes for high school students will be to their benefit.

The reality of a dramatic 27% increase in class sizes will mean less individual attention. It will mean fewer teachers to support more students.

I’m worried that the government is selling an illusion of ‘modernizing’ our school system, while making cuts that will only worsen the classroom experience and lessen the quality of public education.”

Long term solutions needed for autism services

GPO leader and Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner made the following statement regarding changes to autism services in Ontario:

“23,000 kids on waitlist for autism services is unacceptable and a clear sign that the system is broken. System change and additional investments are needed to get kids the autism therapy they need.

Although it is good to hear that the government will provide new funding for diagnostic centres to address the initial diagnostic wait list challenge, I’m worried that today’s announcement will not be a permanent solution to the waitlist challenges families face.

Clearing the waitlist backlog will require investments to ensure service providers are available for parents to access. A lack of service providers and options is a concern with our existing system. It’s unclear how the government is proposing to address this.

We need a balanced approach with parent choice and investments in the infrastructure and service providers that families rely on for care.

We also need to recognize that the $140,000 per child could run out as quickly as within two years, for children undergoing intensive treatment, leaving families in a very tough place.

Today’s announcement is a start, but I encourage the government to work with families, service providers, experts and opposition parties to develop a comprehensive reform plan.”

Lunar New Year

Today marks the beginning of Lunar New Year. During this fifteen day celebration, communities will come together at temples and gatherings to mark the beginning of the Year of the Pig.

Lunar New Year is the most important date in the lunar calendar and is celebrated with beautiful parades, community festivals, the exchange of gifts, and spending time with loved ones.

These celebrations offer us all a chance to reflect on opportunities for renewal and to find peace moving forward with the year ahead.

The GPO would like to wish all who are celebrating a happy and prosperous New Year!

Ford needs to put evidence over ideology in health care

GPO leader and Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner made the following statement regarding the leaked documents around a new health care system:

“The leaked documents around health care released today are deeply concerning.

Health care is too important for the government to put ideology before evidence.

Why would the government move forward with a centralized super agency without evidence that it will improve care at lower costs? This model, as we have seen in Alberta, has not resulted in cost savings. In fact, Alberta has higher health expenditures per capita.

To learn that the government may have moved ahead already with this model, without hearing from the experts and without public input, is a clear example of the Ford government putting ideology over evidence.

We absolutely should make sure our health care system provides quality care in a way that is affordable and sustainable for the province.

But why is the government rushing what appears to be a massive shift ahead of reports from health care experts they themselves hired? The Ford government has shown a disturbing pattern of leaping first, thinking later.

The speed, as well as the content of these documents, is concerning. Rushing such a massive shift in our health care has high risks for patient care.

I urge the government to pause, to give themselves time to listen to the experts, consult with Ontarians and make sure that the outcome of any changes to our health care system puts patients first.

I will continue to fight for a public health care system that puts people first.”

Statement on Black History Month

GPO leader and Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner made the following statement r:

“Today marks the beginning of Black History Month, where we celebrate the role that Black Canadians have played in shaping the history, culture, and identity of our province.

This month offers an opportunity to learn more about the different voices that contribute to making our province such a great place to live. Ontario is stronger because of our diversity.

As we celebrate Black History Month, it is important to also recognize that anti-Black racism is still a reality in Ontario today. We cannot ignore the challenges that Black Canadians face. We must commit to addressing the systemic nature of anti-Black racism in our communities.

When we reflect on Black history in Ontario, we recognize some of the immense changes that have happened over the span of a few generations. This should give all of us hope to look forward to a future with true equality for all.

I encourage all Ontarians to take part in the many events recognizing Black History Month in their communities. As the MPP for Guelph, I would like to recognize the Guelph Black Heritage Society for the good work they do and encourage everyone to visit Heritage Hall in Guelph.”

Ford must immediately commit to publicly funded health care

GPO leader and Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner made the following statement regarding the threat to universal health care:

I call on the Premier and the Minister of Health to commit to public health care now.

I am outraged to read reports that the Ford government may be opening up our health care system to privatization.

Privatization puts our health care system at risk.

The Premier owes it to the people of Ontario to be clear and unequivocal that he is not using consultations as an excuse to open the door to privatization.”

Province should restore Basic Income pilot and minimum wage increases

GPO leader and Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner made the following statement regarding the FAO report on income inequality:

“Today’s FAO report is alarming. Income inequality is on the rise. And that’s not good for our economy, communities or social stability.

It is getting harder for people to make ends meet.

The Ford government’s actions to cancel the minimum wage increase and to cut the Basic Income Pilot will only make inequality worse.

The economy is changing. We must work even harder to level the playing field, to provide economic security and help people thrive.

Cuts to education and social supports have maximized pain for vulnerable groups. Midwives, school programs, the arts, people on social assistance and community groups are all feeling the sting of Ford’s cuts, while the province’s wealthiest 1% have benefited from tax cuts.

I’m calling on the government to restore funding for the Basic Income Pilot, and look at restoring the minimum wage increases alongside payroll tax reductions to help small businesses with immediate cash flow relief.”

Province needs more investments in community and preventative health care

GPO leader and Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner made the following statement regarding the report on ending hallway health care:

“Today’s report on hallway medicine confirms that we will need innovative solutions to ensure quality health care continues in Ontario. The number of people being cared for in hallways is unacceptable.

It’s clear that investments in community-based solutions and preventative health care – two solutions the Green Party has pushed for years – are needed to address the root causes of hospital overcrowding.

As this report confirms, we need to make sure that health care options, particularly for mental health and long term care, are available in the community outside of hospitals to free beds for acute care. This includes primary health care reform with more community health centres, nurse practitioner-led clinics, and family health teams.

Better community-based care, not cuts, is the solution to hallway healthcare.

As the government approaches their first budget this spring, I urge them to offer more than band-aid solutions. Ontario needs investments in the long-term solutions that will alleviate the strain on our hospitals. Decades of ignoring the root causes of hospital overcrowding have left us in a constant game of catch-up.

Neither funding cuts or just throwing money at the crisis will offer the solutions we need. Smart investments in integrated care with better mental health services, senior care, and community health care is needed to improve quality and efficiency.”