April 2015 Update: Stoney Creek News
I have heard from many of you recently about the rising cost of hydro. Rates have gone from 4.3 cents/kWh in 2002 to 14 cents/kWh today, and the projections for the next few years make grim reading. We pay the highest hydro bills in Canada. The massive price increases over the last decade have put serious pressure on Ontario families, especially seniors and others on fixed incomes. Some of the monthly bills I hear about are shocking. On top of this pain, the high cost of energy is hampering our economic recovery and costing us jobs. My NDP colleagues and I will be pressing for hydro relief for Ontarians as a priority in the coming budget.
I am very worried about the Liberal plan to hold a fire sale of public assets like Hydro One. We are all familiar with the debacle that was Highway 407, sold off at perhaps a quarter of its true value. The revenue generated by our shared public assets helps to pay for our schools and hospitals. Closing schools and daycares, laying off nurses, and selling off our electricity system to the highest bidder do nothing to help middle class and struggling Ontarians. It is no surprise that these asset sales are going hand-in-hand with planned cuts to education and healthcare funding.
On a happier note, I would like to thank the Insurance Bureau of Canada for their generous donation to Hamilton Food Share and St. Matthew’s House. It will help a lot of struggling families this spring.
I have been privileged recently to have met with many of the Canadian athletes who will be competing at this summer’s Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. I encourage you to offer them your wholehearted support, and to attend some of the many events if you can. I am very troubled by the hope-and-pray nature of some of the traffic management plans during the Games, especially those in and around Toronto. Hamilton-Toronto commuters may face challenging times, and I would advise any of you who can to make plans to carpool, take transit, or change your commute time well in advance of the Games. Happily, the City of Hamilton appears to have a good traffic plan in place, and with the inevitable exception of the stadium area, there should be only minimal disruption in our city.
In November, the Ministry of Community and Social Services rolled out new software called SAMS. Unfortunately, SAMS has been plagued with problems and many Ontarians who rely on social services such as ODSP and OW are not receiving the support they need. Since November, families have been underpaid. Cheques have been too late to pay the rent. Staff are overwhelmed and exhausted. This is a disgraceful state of affairs after spending a quarter of a billion dollars. If you are a support recipient and have had difficulties with these programs, please call my office and my staff will assist you..