Greens would get people moving with immediate transit options in southwestern Ontario

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GUELPH, ON — Today in his home riding of Guelph, Mike Schreiner announced the Green Party of Ontario’s commitment to improving public transportation in southwestern Ontario to better connect people to the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

“Gridlock in the GTA is paralyzing – hurting our economy with lost productivity and taking us away from families and communities. In Guelph and in the wider region, people want to use sustainable public transit, but we must have efficient and reliable service that is a viable alternative to driving a car,” said Leader, Mike Schreiner.

Schreiner wants to see all day, two-­way GO service to Guelph and Kitchener as quickly as possible, but stopping there is not enough.

“There is no reason why we cannot have decent services right now with express bus service between cities like Hamilton, Cambridge and Kitchener-Waterloo. These services – shockingly – don’t exist. It’s a matter of political will,” said Schreiner.

“Greens would speak for commuters and demand the investments necessary to truly allow us to move freely on public transit. We have the capacity and the infrastructure, and now it’s time to step up to the plate,” he added.

The region is home to over 2.5 million Ontarians, and yet the three status quo parties have not made intercity travel a priority, leaving people with long journey times and infrequent service delivery if they want or need to use transit.

“How is it that in 2018 you can still only travel directly from Guelph to Toronto in the early morning hours, while if you want to get to Kitchener, you’re left taking a two-hour bus ride for a journey that would take 30 minutes in a car?” said Schreiner.

Greens are also committed to reducing greenhouse emissions from transportation, the largest contributor to Ontario’s carbon pollution from any sector.

“We will work to rapidly bring our transportation system towards carbon neutrality, electrifying GO train services as quickly as possible and introducing electric and hybrid buses where feasible. Our transportation infrastructure needs to serve people and the climate,” said Schreiner.

Endangered species at risk of another four years of status-quo politics

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QUEEN’S PARK, ON — On International Day for Biological Diversity, the Green Party of Ontario is calling attention to the Liberal government’s categorical failure to protect the approximately 237 species at risk found in Ontario.

“Five years ago the Liberals gutted the Endangered Species Act  to make it easier for the forestry, aggregates, mining and energy sectors to run roughshod over Ontario’s sensitive wildlife habitats. Loopholes and exemptions turned the Act from a source of pride to a source of shame,” said Green Party Leader, Mike Schreiner.

It is accepted knowledge in the scientific community that we are on the verge of a sixth mass extinction – a biological annihilation of wildlife – with today’s rapid loss of species estimated to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times the natural rate. A 2016 study found that humans have destroyed one tenth of the Earth’s wilderness in the last 25 years.

With these sobering statistics in mind, Greens are calling for urgent reform to the Endangered Species Act to reverse Liberal changes that effectively re-engineered the legislation to serve companies rather than wildlife and habitats.

“Climate change and development pressures are putting enormous strain on biodiversity. Without the proper safeguards in place in Ontario, we will decimate our plant and animal life.” said Schreiner.

The environment commissioner agrees with Schreiner. Last October’s scathing report found the Liberals had abdicated their responsibility to the species most at risk.

“With each passing year, the extent of this failure becomes more clear — the Ministry [of Natural Resources and Forestry] has reduced what should have been a robust system for protecting species at risk to what is largely a paper exercise,” said Dianne Saxe.

While Ford promises to drive a bulldozer over environmental protections and Horwath remains AWOL on the environment, Greens are the only party offering greater protection for the places we love in Ontario.

Our plan calls for a freeze to urban sprawl, extending the Greenbelt to include the region’s drinking water sources, and an immediate ban on logging in Algonquin Park. Find out more at www.gpo.ca/vision.

 

Prevention is the long-term solution to our healthcare woes

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TORONTO, ON — Today, Green Party of Ontario Leader, Mike Schreiner, called for a transformation of Ontario’s healthcare system towards one that doesn’t just treat illness, but prevents it in the first place. This followed an appearance on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin, where Schreiner criticized the status-quo parties for their short-term thinking.

“The status-quo parties continue to focus on the symptoms of our healthcare crisis at the expense of addressing the real drivers. Greens are putting forward a plan to get at the root causes of our overcrowded hospitals,” said Schreiner.

47% of Ontarians reported visiting an emergency department in 2013 for a condition they thought could have been treated by their primary care provider if they had been available. While the PCs, Liberals and NDP rely on band-aid solutions, Greens are suggesting a paradigm shift in the way we look at health to focus on prevention.

The party is proposing an historic $4.1 billion investment over four years into mental health as a first step to making mental health services part of OHIP+, as well as removing the HST charges from accredited private mental health service providers during the transition to full public delivery of mental health services.

“It is unacceptable that 12,000 children and youth are on a waitlist for mental health services. There is a mental health crisis in Ontario, and we must act now. Investments in people’s mental wellness today will save us money many times over in the future,” said Schreiner.

The Green Party will increase the number of Nurse Practitioner-led Clinics in the province and step up other primary care models like family health teams, community care centres, and Indigenous health access centres.

“Our acute care resources are stretched beyond belief and the only way to sustainably relieve this burden is to invest in the community-level services that can better reach people before a health issue turns into a crisis,” said Schreiner.

“We need to start embedding the social determinants of health into our approach – food security, environment, education, income level. The real causes of poor health are effectively ignored by a sick care system that only kicks in when a problem comes through the hospital door,” he added.

Schreiner is calling on the province to emulate BC, which spends three times more on illness prevention and health promotion and leads the country on most health outcomes.

“Cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes – we can save money and reduce the rates of these illnesses by prioritizing healthier communities. It’s time.” said Schreiner.

 

Schreiner: Liberals should say no to Hydro One’s proposed merger with Avista

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In response to news that Hydro One’s acquisition of Avista passed another hurdle, Green Party of Ontario Leader, Mike Schreiner, said the following:

“The Ontario government must use its position as the largest shareholder in Hydro One to say no to its proposed merger with Avista Corporation.

Ontarians breathed a sigh of relief when we got off of coal in 2014. It was a moment to be proud of in the fight against climate change. But now Hydro One is getting back into the coal game, acquiring a US company with a major stake in one of the country’s largest coal-fired generating plants. How can the Liberals claim to be climate leaders when they’re happy to get into bed with big polluters south of the border?

The disastrous privatization of an important public asset has given rise to a multinational corporation whose bottom line is making profits for private shareholders, whether this means higher bills for the people of Ontario or pumping more greenhouse gas pollution into the atmosphere. By selling ownership in Hydro One, Ontario can no longer keep our hands clean from dirty energy projects that worsen the climate crisis. This is wrong.”

Open Letter to Ontario Broadcasters Group regarding Green Party exclusion from May 27 debate

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To: Ontario Broadcasters Group
℅ Mackay Taggart
News Director
Global News Toronto
mackay.taggart@globalnews.ca

Dear Mr. Taggart:

With the final televised provincial leaders debate approaching, I respectfully urge the Ontario Broadcasters Group to reconsider its decision to exclude the Green Party of Ontario.

To date more than 25,000 Ontarians have signed petitions calling for fair debates that include all four major parties. You can see these petitions at www.fairdebates.ca and www.MikeAtTheMic.ca. We have the support of Premier Kathleen Wynne and NDP Leader, Andrea Horwath, as well as multiple journalists who believe our voice should be at the table. It is with this significant backing that I write this letter.

Televised leaders debates are an important part of our democracy and have far-reaching implications for the outcome of elections. I believe decisions about participation in these debates should be fair, transparent and made by people accountable to voters in Ontario.

That said, I recognize that the Ontario Broadcasters Group has the decision-making authority in this case. Therefore, you have a significant responsibility to the voters to present fair debates that accurately represent the political landscape and the options on June 7th. By excluding the Green Party, you are failing in that responsibility to the people of Ontario.

First, your insistence that a party must have a seat in the provincial legislature ignores the broad support the Green Party has across Ontario and Canada. Greens have been elected to provincial legislatures of BC, PEI and New Brunswick. In all of these cases, the election of Greens was preceded by their inclusion in televised debates. And in the last Ontario election, our party received over 233,000 votes and nearly 5% of the popular vote. By limiting our visibility, you are ignoring a growing movement – whose reach is global, with Greens elected in countries from Iceland to Germany.

Second, the decision ignores our credibility as one of the four major parties in Ontario. We have run a full slate of candidates in every election since 2003, and this year our full slate includes 52% women candidates. We have released a costed platform that touches on all major issues in the province. And most importantly, we are one of four parties to receive enough votes to qualify for public funding under Elections Ontario rules.

In our view it is simple: if a party qualifies for public subsidies, then it should be held accountable in the televised leaders debates. By silencing our voice, you are denying Ontarians the right to hear a viable vision for Ontario that their tax dollars are supporting. This is a disservice to democracy.

Third, as I have toured the province and spoken out on this issue, I have been told by countless media personalities and Ontarians of all political stripes that it is unacceptable that I am being shut out. In an online poll by the Toronto Star, 69% of people responded unequivocally that Greens should be included, while another 15% responded that Greens should be included if the other parties agree to it.

With this broad support from politicians, media and the people of Ontario, I ask whether you can stand behind your original decision?

There is still time to do the right thing. There are four major parties in this province – not three. I ask that you provide the voters of Ontario with the true picture of this election and allow them access to the views and policies of all four major parties.

Sincerely,

Mike Schreiner
Leader, Green Party of Ontario

cc:
Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Premier and Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party
Andrea Horwath, Leader of the Ontario NDP
Doug Ford, Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario

This is our last chance to get #MikeAtTheMic

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We have less than one week left to change the minds of the unelected, unaccountable media consortium trying to shut Mike Schreiner out of the televised Leaders Debate on May 27.

These debates can change elections. In BC, PEI and New Brunswick, Greens were all elected after appearing in debates. Getting #MikeAtTheMic to debate Wynne, Horwath and Ford will greatly improve our chances of a Green Wave on Election Day.

On Thursday, May 24, we are mobilizing all of our supporters to join a MASSIVE TWITTERSTORM to pressure the Ontario Broadcasters Group to do the right thing and put #MikeAtTheMic.

Join the Twitterstorm

Goal: Get #MikeAtTheMic trending and ensure the media consortium hears us loud and clear!

WhenThursday, May 24 between 12-1pm 

What you need to do: On Thursday, May 24, between 12-1pm, choose from the tweets below or write your own creative tweet using #MikeAtTheMic and tagging the media consortium members. Post the tweet during this time – it’s important we get as many people tweeting in this window so we can get #MikeAtTheMic trending on Twitter.

Sample Tweets

  1. 4 parties are publicly funded in Ontario and 4 parties deserve to debate on May 27. Ontario deserves to hear what the Greens have to offer. MikeAtTheMic.ca @GlobalTV @CBCNews @CHCHTV @CPAC_TV @TVO @CTVNews #MikeAtTheMic #onpoli #ONelxn (Click to Tweet)
  2. Hey @GlobalTV @CBCNews @CHCHTV @CPAC_TV @TVO @CTVNews, do the right thing and put #MikeAtTheMic MikeAtTheMic.ca #onpoli #ONelxn (Click to Tweet)
  3. End the three-ring circus and make May 27th a fair debate with @OntarioGreens leader @MikeSchreiner. @GlobalTV @CBCNews @CHCHTV @CPAC_TV @TVO @CTVNews #MikeAtTheMic #onpoli #ONelxn MikeAtTheMic.ca (Click to Tweet)
  4. Stop telling Ontarians there are only three choices this #ONelxn @GlobalTV @CBCNews @CHCHTV @CPAC_TV @TVO @CTVNews. @MikeSchreiner is a real alternative to the status quo circus #MikeAtTheMic #onpoli MikeAtTheMic.ca (Click to Tweet)
  5. Silencing @OntarioGreens is a disservice to democracy. Full slate of candidates. Costed platform. 233,000 votes in 2014. Put #MikeAtTheMic @GlobalTV @CBCNews @CHCHTV @CPAC_TV @TVO @CTVNews. MikeAtTheMic.ca #onpoli #ONelxn (Click to Tweet)

If you don’t have Twitter, you can still help. Send an email tomackay.taggart@globalnews.ca asking for the Green Party to be included in the televised debates. If you need some inspiration, read Mike Schreiner’s open letter here.

Lastly – if you haven’t already – sign and share the petition at MikeAtTheMic.ca.

Television managers in back rooms should not get to decide who has legitimacy and who should be held accountable by the voters in Ontario. So we need YOU to help us tell them they got it wrong.

This is our last chance to get #MikeAtTheMic. We hope you’ll join us in this effort to get our Green voices heard.

Green Party Leader receives endorsement from Toronto Star

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TORONTO, ON — The city’s highest circulation newspaper has given its endorsement to Green Party Leader, Mike Schreiner, in his bid to become the first elected Green MPP this election.

“Ours is a party offering honest politics and real change from the status quo. We do not rely on slogans or populism, empty promises or faulty accounting to get votes. We rely on people power and hard work. I’m happy the media is recognizing the real solutions the Green Party is putting forward – on affordable housing, basic income and embracing the 21st century clean economy,” said Mike Schreiner.

Schreiner was the first to be interviewed by the Toronto Star last week in its series of live-streamed editorial board meetings with each of the four major party leaders. The endorsement notes Schreiner’s candour on challenging issues, as well as his depth of policy knowledge in a landscape where it has become all-too-common to dumb down the political discourse.

“It is arguably the Green leader who has been the most forthright leader in the campaign for the June 7 Ontario election,” reads the article. “It would not be an unwelcome development at all if the electors of Guelph were to decide on June 7 to make a little Ontario history,” it concludes.

Read the article here: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2018/05/21/guelph-voters-should-consider-making-history-and-sending-the-greens-mike-schreiner-to-queens-park.html

Schreiner presents plan to support local businesses

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GUELPH, ON — Today, from his home riding of Guelph, Mike Schreiner outlined a plan for supporting small businesses and Ontario’s workers through fair tax reform. This plan will result in an additional $1 billion remaining in communities each year to help businesses pay a living wage.

“Liberals and Conservatives have been playing wedge politics with people’s lives by pitting workers against small business owners in a bid to harvest votes. But it does not have to be a choice between people and business. We have real solutions for fair tax reform that benefit everyone,” said Mike Schreiner, Leader of the Green Party of Ontario.

The Greens are committed to following through with the Liberals’ plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 because it is simply the right thing to do. But Greens will not leave small businesses in the lurch.

The Green Party would increase the exemption level for the Employer Health Tax from $450,000 to $1 million in payroll for businesses and organizations with payrolls under $5 million. This would be paid for by reversing the Liberal’s corporate tax cut for big businesses by 1%.

“Ours is a plan to support the small businesses with immediate cash flow relief that will help local, family independent businesses to continue thriving in this transition to better wages,” added Schreiner.

Asked how his plan compares to Doug Ford’s corporate tax cut, Schreiner said: “I’ve spoken with nearly all of the small business owners in Guelph and heard their concerns. They need cash flow support right now. They cannot wait a year or a year-and a-half like they would with a corporate tax cut.”

Schreiner’s home riding of Guelph is a small business heartland in Ontario, with creative entrepreneurs turning clever ideas into reality, from corner stores to high tech start-ups, local organic farms to advanced manufacturing, retailers to home builders.

“When we talk about about why Guelph is such a livable community, it’s because we have such a vibrant small business community. Statistics show we’re the fourth best community in all of Canada to start a business.”

“I am so proud to call this place home,” said Schreiner.

Learn more about our platform at gpo.ca/our-platform.

Statement from Mike Schreiner on International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on May 17

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QUEEN’S PARK — The Green Party of Ontario Leader made the following statement:

The Green Party of Ontario stands alongside all allies in commemorating this important day for the LGBTQIA2S+ community. Since 2004, this day has been marked to draw attention to the historic and institutional discrimination, as well as tragic losses, suffered by LGBTQIA2S+ people, and the barriers that continue to prevent their full inclusion and acceptance by society.

May 17 was selected because it was on this day in 1990 the World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder.

“We have come a long way since then, but we know that prejudice still exists in Ontario – both openly and in more hidden ways that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. “ said Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner.

In our laws and services across Ontario, we must ensure that everyone receives full human rights protections, regardless of gender expression, gender identity or sexual orientation. But individually and in our communities, we must make the conscious effort to celebrate diversity and applaud and support those who have the courage to honour their true selves.

“The lived experience and everyday struggles of the LGBTQIA2S+ population remain under-appreciated and it is up to all Ontarians to build a truly equitable, open and inclusive society.” added Schreiner

Ford sells Ontario a trumped bill of goods

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QUEEN’S PARK — Doug Ford’s announcement of a gas tax cut is yet another back-of-the-napkin policy idea that fails to pass the sniff test.

“The Liberals played this game with the UnFair Hydro Plan to artificially lower energy bills before an election. Now Ford is jumping on the bandwagon, hoping to buy people off at the pumps while he guts public services and takes our economy backwards,” said Green Party Leader, Mike Schreiner.

By closing his eyes to the overwhelming evidence that carbon pricing works, Ford is thumbing his nose at the basic principles of economics. You put a higher price on pollution, and you incentivize the good behaviour through the use of low carbon goods and services.

“Globally, cleantech is a $6 trillion industry. If Ontario were to capture even 1% of this, it would be the largest contributor to our GDP. Yesterday, after announcing the gas tax axe, Ford toured a cleantech facility in Mississauga. Does he realize that he is a walking contradiction?” said Schreiner.

“Ford’s wish to cancel all cleantech and energy efficiency programs would be like someone in the 1920s vowing to stick with horse-and-buggy transportation over the automobile. I refuse to let Doug perpetuate the myth that the economy and the environment are at odds,” said Schreiner. “The jobs of the 21st century are the clean jobs of the new economy that are already employing close to 300,000 Canadians at an average salary of $92,000 per year,” he added.

The estimated loss of over $1 billion dollars in gas tax revenues comes on the heels of Ford’s announcements of massive corporate and income tax cuts, hydro subsidies and an end to cap-and-trade revenues that put Ontario in the red to the tune of over $8 billion dollars.

Ford refuses to explain how he’ll pay for any of these promises.” This is irresponsible. If you are going to gut public services and starve the government of revenues, at least have the decency to admit it.” said Schreiner

Instead of ignoring scientific evidence and the growing business consensus, Greens have a fully costed plan to leap into the future and embrace the new economy:

  • Redirect the $3.1 billion per year in existing business support programs to target cleantech innovation, advanced manufacturing and bio-products.
  • Create a $4.18 billion Green Building and Business Program to provide grants and interest-free loans to help homeowners, renters and businesses invest in energy efficiency and conservation.
  • Put a stop to government subsidies of businesses that pollute and worsen climate change
  • Cancel the UnFair Hydro Plan and put Ontario on a path to 100% renewable energy by purchasing low-cost water power from Quebec at one-third the price of nuclear.