End of Year op-ed
MPP for Sudbury Jamie West
December 21, 2020
I want to begin by thanking everyone who has reached out to me with your comments or concerns relating to Sudbury, Copper Cliff, and the province of Ontario. I could not be more proud to represent such a resilient city!
Although we remain resilient, we cannot deny that this has been a difficult year across the province. The Covid-19 pandemic made it extremely clear that we rely on our social safety net every day; it highlighted the gaps in our provincial government services; and, it demonstrated that our province was not really prepared to take care of people during an emergency.
Although it became more apparent in 2020, these issues had been broken for years. Let’s be honest, if successive governments had properly invested in health care, long-term care, and other public services, then Ontario would have been in a better position today. The erosion and underfunding of public services didn’t start in 2020; they happened over the past 15 years of Liberal government; and, unfortunately, accelerated under the current Conservative government.
For example, pre-pandemic, Premier Ford and his Conservatives gutted most of our provincial programs – including Public Health. In the 2019 budget, the Conservative government planned to cut provincial funding for Public Health by 27 per cent; and, planned to cut the number of local Public Health Units from 35 to 10 (the same Public Health Units that have been instrumental in helping the province navigate through the Covid-19 pandemic).
In contrast, the Ontario NDP has been fighting for all individuals across the province. We have put forward many different strategies to address the root causes of Ontario’s current struggles, including:
- A better long-term care system, including home and community care that delivers better living, better care, and more peace of mind for families. This would include a ban on greedy profit-driven corporations from the home care and long-term care sector.
- A Housing Strategy with the belief that housing is a human right. Our plan will address homelessness and affordability issues in the North without leaving “mom and pop’ landlords behind.
- A “Save Main Street” plan that will drive our economic recovery by investing in small businesses, keeping Ontario workers safe and banning commercial evictions.
When people feel safe and their basic needs are met, we can overcome obstacles together. As a community, we have come together and shown our true strength by following health guidelines and keeping COVID-19 numbers low. We have run food drives, we have checked in with our neighbours, and we continue to look out for each other.
Our essential workers have been AMAZING, keeping all of us safe while continuously adapting to the ever-changing rules of this pandemic. As well, even though they have lost thousands in revenue this year, our non-profit sector continues to step-up to help those most in need.
Locally, my office has been sharing pandemic-related information with the community; we’ve connected with local agencies; we’ve amplified the voice of thousands of Sudburians within the legislature; we’ve held four virtual town halls to discuss important issues; and, as always, we will continue to help as many people as we can with their individual cases.
Looking ahead, I will continue to fight for:
- A better system for long-term care, including a hiring strategy and fair wages for PSW’s to address the shortage in our province.
- Proper Personal Protective Equipment for ALL health care heroes.
- Guaranteed paid sick days for every worker so people who can’t afford to miss shifts don’t take the virus to work.
- Guaranteed paid family-care days so parents can stay home with a child that’s experiencing symptoms, and families can isolate at home without missing a paycheque if they’ve been exposed to the virus.
- In-workplace testing, starting with large workplaces like manufacturing facilities.
- A safe re-opening and remote-work fund for small-businesses.
- Smaller and safer classes sizes within schools and expanding in-school testing to try and prevent outbreaks.
- The Opioid Crisis to be addressed, by declaring it a public health emergency and funding harm-reduction strategies like Safe Consumption Sites.
These are only some of the issues that must be addressed right away to ensure that 2021 is safe and prosperous for everyone!
One of my favourite sayings about Sudbury is that we “punch above our weight”, and I know that Sudbury will continue to thrive in spite of all these obstacles. As 2020 ends, let’s remember the good moments and bring that forward in the new year. Let’s continue to come together as a community and look out for each other.
I hope you find joy with your loved ones this holiday season and an abundance of hope for a brighter year ahead.