What lies in store for the future of Ontario
By: Kaelen Pelaia, Staff Writer
With June 8thapproximately two months away, the Ontario Provincial Election of 2018 is quickly approaching. The provincial race has been extensively covered in the media for months now, with a sharp focus placed around incumbent Premier Kathleen Wynne of the Ontario Liberal Party, and the candidates for the other political parties: Andrea Horwath as the New Democratic Party (NDP), and Doug Ford as leader of the Ontario Conservatives. This article will provide a brief summary of the policies and ideas put forth by these three parties (as the dominant parties of the election) for the Province of Ontario.
One important issue among voters is car and automobile insurance. Complaints over rising rates and insurance fraud have prompted responses from all three parties. The Liberal Party announced the ‘Fair Auto Insurance Act’ several months ago, a bill focused around lowering insurance premiums by reducing fraud rates. The Conservatives promise to “end regional discrimination” for auto insurance by putting an upward limit on insurance providers’ premiums and cracking down on fraud and uninsured drivers, while citing the current government’s mismanagement of the Ontario Tire Stewardship. The NDP outlined a plan that promises to reduce rates province-wide by 15% (re-iterating a former Liberal campaign promise from years prior), and in general work towards increasing accessibility and affordability of auto insurance.
Another crucial issue has been the discussion of the Liberals’ increase of the minimum wage rate to $14.00 in January 2018, with further increases in 2019. The NDP has also voiced their support of increasing the minimum wage, while the Conservatives would keep the current minimum wage at $14.00 and postpone or scrap the scheduled raise to $15.00, while citing arguments from business owners that they have been forced to scale back employment to combat rising costs.
This election will also see a pivotal moment for Ontario’s power generation. Wynne’s government has responded to complaints about Ontario Hydro, scaling back 60% of the department, and implementing a number of green energy initiatives while cutting the costs of power bills province-wide by up to twenty-five percent. However, criticism comes from the fact that the market for green energy was being artificially propped up by the government at the expense of taxpayers. Ontario has also produced so much energy in recent years that it has been shipped to Quebec and the United States for little to no cost. The Conservatives, in response, have promised to undo the Green Energy Act upon election and remove the Smart Meter charges on electricity bills. The NDP has made mention of the importance of protecting vulnerable Ontario rural workers and industries from the transition to a low-carbon economy in the future.
It’s important for Ontarians to make an appearance at the polls in June; voter turnout in the province has been abysmally low in past elections, with as little as 52% showing up to vote in 2015 (the federal election of 2015 saw a turnout of 68%). The democratic process requires participation by the public in order to remain effective, and this election will have a tangible impact on the day-to-day lives of people in Thunder Bay and other communities at the local level. Get out and vote! June 8th is closer than you may think.