Grassy Narrows needs local Mercury Home and Treatment Centre

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TORONTO – The Green Party of Ontario fully supports the call by the people of Grassy Narrows for construction of a local Mercury Home and Treatment Centre to help the survivors of decades of mercury poisoning in the First Nations community.

GPO Leader Mike Schreiner says Grassy Narrows residents should not have to travel to distant health facilities, where they report intense loneliness and alienation because they are separated from their families, their community and their culture.

“It is shameful that successive Ontario governments ignored the devastating impact of mercury poisoning on the people of Grassy Narrows. We owe them proper treatment close to home,” said Schreiner. “It is wrong to force people to travel hundreds of kilometres to receive the health care they deserve.”

Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Fobister has said researchers have concluded that more than 90 per cent of the people in Grassy Narrows and the nearby Wabaseemoong (White Dog) First Nation have symptoms of mercury poisoning, including neurological problems and birth defects.

A 2016 report, recently published by The Toronto Star, found mercury contamination in the area has lingered for decades and likely still does, despite repeated assurances from public officials over the years that there was no ongoing source of mercury in local rivers.

As scientists sounded the alarm that the neurotoxin was poisoning the fish and the people who eat it, “government official after government official kept repeating that there was no ongoing source of mercury in the Wabigoon River that is the lifeblood of Grassy Narrows,” reported the Star.

“It was a betrayal for successive provincial governments to hide the fact they knew mercury was still present at a former paper mill in Dryden. We can not tolerate environmental racism in Ontario,” said Schreiner.

“No one wants to live in a province that allows people to be poisoned.”

The mercury contamination also destroyed the local economy by forcing the closure of the commercial fishing industry. The Liberals must take real action to clean up the mercury contamination.

“How can the Grassy Narrows First Nation thrive when the river they rely on for water, food and their economy continues to be poisoned by mercury?” asked Schreiner.

The Green Party will continue to support the Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong First Nations to make sure the government fulfills its duty to them.

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Lower labour costs for small businesses following minimum wage legislation

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TORONTO – Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner says the Liberal government should follow today’s passage of legislation increasing the minimum wage by immediately lowering labour costs for small businesses.

The GPO plan to raise the exemption level for the Employer Health Tax from $450,000 to $1,000,000 in payroll would automatically and immediately benefit small businesses, and they wouldn’t have to fill out paperwork to apply or wait until they file their taxes.

“Payroll tax reductions help small businesses by immediately lowering labour costs, improving their monthly cash flow and creating incentives to create jobs,” said Schreiner. “Lower labour costs help businesses create more jobs and better paying jobs.

The Liberals’ corporate tax cut isn’t enough to help small businesses cope with the hike in the minimum wage, but it helps them maximize their profits, even if they do that by cutting jobs, warned Schreiner.

The Green Party is the only real voice for small businesses in Ontario.

“It’s clear there are two parties of big business and one party of no business at Queen’s Park,” said Schreiner. “Only the Green Party has a balanced plan that supports a living wage for workers and gives their employers immediate help to offset the cost of the increased minimum wage.”

The GPO supports the legislated increases in the minimum wage, to $14 an hour Jan. 1, 2018 and $15 in 2019, but would also like to see increases in social assistance rates to help Ontario’s most vulnerable residents.

“Both policies would inject more money into local economies, benefitting local businesses,” said Schreiner. “We are the only party advocating for a balanced approach, supporting a decent living wage for workers and lower payroll taxes for their employers.”

The Green Party of Ontario is made up of real people who simply want to make the world a better place.

Sign our petition to support lowering payroll taxes for small businesses here.

Lest we forget.

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Today, we honour those who have served our nation and selflessly defended our democracy. We owe it those who have served to never forget.

Remembrance day is a time for reflection. We are eternally grateful to our veterans and their families who have endured pain and loss in the name of our country.

We cannot forget the cost of war. We must strive to be better. Veterans have put themselves in harm’s way to protect us, and we owe them our respect, support, and commitment to strive for peace.

And when those veterans return home, we owe it to them to provide the care and support they need.

We must do our part and commit ourselves to strive for a more respectful, fair, democratic and peaceful world.

​Reducing waste from single-use coffee pods a good initiative

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Matt Richter, GPO candidate in Parry Sound Muskoka, made the following statement on MPP Norm Miller’s Bill 173 An Act respecting the sale of single-use beverage pods: 

“Thank you to Norm Miller for taking the initiative with Bill 173 to support fully compostable single-use coffee pods.

Keeping the millions of pods used annually out of garbage dumps helps the environment and our economy.

Ontario entrepreneurs already have the creativity to come up with various compostable options. Passing Bill 173 will help support this creativity, promoting a sustainable business model and reducing trash that affects the bottom line of every municipality.

The Green Party has long called for a zero waste strategy, involving businesses and consumers in creating a system for sustainable waste management.

Thanks to MPP Miller for taking this step in addressing a growing waste problem. We just wish it had a faster implementation than four years – we support taking urgent action.

I urge the other parties at Queen’s Park to support MPP Miller’s initiative.”

​Liberal government is letting students across the province down

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Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner will speak to attendees of the College Student Alliance’s rally at Queen’s Park today, focusing on the idea that the Liberal government is letting students across the province down.

Cannabis monopoly will ramp up criminalization of pot

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Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner supports efforts to keep cannabis retailers away from schools. But he is calling on the Liberals to stop the government-monopolization of marijuana, which will do nothing to stop the underground market for cannabis.

The Liberals sent letters today to all Ontario municipalities saying the government-owned LCBO will try to reduce the number of existing dispensaries as it helps identify which towns and cities will get government-run cannabis stores.

“The Liberals’ approach seems to ramp up criminalization of pot outside the government monopoly, which undermines the reasons for legalizing it in the first place.” said Schreiner.

“There is a better way – highly regulated and licensed local businesses to allow local farmers, small businesses and Indigenous groups to participate in the market, creating local jobs and contributing tax dollars to local communities across the province.”

The Liberals current plan to open only 40 stores next year with a maximum of 150 across the province will not be enough to meet demand or combat the underground market.

“The government’s plan is likely to result in unsafe, unregulated cannabis to still be available on the underground market,” warned Schreiner.

The GPO is calling for a system that:

1. Regulates and licenses small businesses and dispensaries to sell cannabis in a safe and controlled way;
2. Ensures tax revenues from cannabis sales are used to fund education, mental health and addiction programs;
3. Creates more local jobs and prosperity by supporting small businesses, local farmers, and indigenous communities.

Read Schreiner’s open letter to Ontario cabinet ministers at gpo.ca/stop-monopolization-marijuana
Sign our petition to stop the monopolization of cannabis.

 

​Liberals double down on risky, expensive electricity mix that will create higher electricity bills

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The Liberal's energy plan is going to mean even higher electricity bills for people and small businesses in Ontario.

​Liberal government failing to protect the people and places we love

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The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario's report proves that the government cannot be trusted with defending the people and places we love in Ontario.

​Happy Diwali!

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Happy Diwali to all who are celebrating!

Diwali is a holiday enjoyed by Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs around the world. On this festive occasion, communities are encouraged to make contributions to charitable causes to promote kindness and compassion toward others.

The festival of Diwali is representative of the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. It is a reminder for all of us to renew our commitments to self-improvement and care for those around us.

May the Festival of Lights bring you joy, goodwill, prosperity and peace.