Pat Freel, Walter Baker Park, May 4th, 2022

This election is going to be crucial for Ontario. Not only are we dealing with the ongoing climate crisis, but we are faced with a poorly supported healthcare system, and public education that does not work in favour of its students. 

The Liberal and Progressive Conservative parties are responsible for the mess our province is in right now. The NDP is also to blame. When they had the balance of power in 2014, they failed to effectively hold the government to account, and all they fought for was reducing car insurance rates.

Our healthcare system has been the victim of decades of underfunding from Liberal and PC governments.. Under the current government, more cuts have been introduced, and the rights of our healthcare providers have been limited by Bill 124 – despite the invaluable service they continue to deliver through this COVID-19 pandemic. Even though the government has made investments in providing more beds in healthcare settings, these beds are not effective without the sufficient, trained staff to look after them. 

The Greens’ plan for Ontario’s healthcare system is to increase the number of nurse practitioners in care facilities to improve patient care and outcomes, and provide these care providers with equal pay for work. This will help reduce hospital overcrowding by equipping providers of home care, long-term care, nurse-led clinics, and primary care facilities to take better care of their residents. 

I support our plan to introduce special public transit services, and increase telemedicine and tele-psychiatry so that rural residents have better access to health care. Kanata-Carleton is a unique riding, with a huge rural population, and it is the job of our MPP to make sure that rural residents are served just as well as urban residents.

I’m also keen to improve access to healthy foods by supporting community food hubs and school food programs so that people can benefit from healthy lifestyles and better nutrition. Local, healthy food is such an important thing, and we have some amazing farmers and home growers here in Kanata-Carleton that can support us in realising this. 

I believe we need to treat mental health and addiction as a public health issue. We owe it to each other to make sure we are of sound mind and body, so that we can function better as a society. The Ontario Greens will commit to integrating mental health and addictions services into Expanded Family Health Teams and walk-in clinics, in order to improve early intervention and make mental health and substance use part of regular check-ups. We also believe in creating partnerships between private workplaces and the province to improve mental health and workplace wellness.  

Pat Freel with some of the volunteers, Walter Baker Park, May 4th, 2022

We have a plan to incorporate mental health, wellness, and resilience training across the entire education system. We will make sure training and services offered are delivered in both official languages by investing in French-language services for mental health.

I support the Green Party’s plan to reinstate the licence plate sticker fees to help fund this. These fees typically went to funding infrastructure, but road infrastructure will be funded by implementing congestion charges on highways, as outlined in our climate plan. 

Our future depends on the quality of the education we deliver to youth. Ontario’s education system is in jeopardy following the Ontario PC’s decision to increase classroom sizes, and their lack of commitment to funding education assistants. 

I support the Ontario Green Party’s plan to eliminate EQAO testing to reinvest the savings back into education in order to help address the $612 funding gap between primary and secondary students. 

I am also committed to keeping the discussion going about merging the English public and English Catholic school boards. The potential savings from eliminating duplicate administrative services can be reinvested into the system, and help deliver front line services such as counsellors, psychologists, social workers, and educational assistants. This would help students have greater access to services, and no more schools would have to close down.

And last, but certainly not least, the Ontario Greens are the only party with a serious plan to address the climate crisis. This plan has been scrutinised by scientists and economists who committed to coming up with the most cost-effective way to reduce our emissions, and restore biodiversity in this province. 

The Green Party will adopt a more effective carbon fee-and-dividend program, to further incentivize businesses and individuals to move away from climate-polluting behaviours, and adopt more environmentally conscious habits. Our plan would replace the bare-minimum program implemented by the Federal Liberal party, and cap out at $300/tonne in 2032. 

I will also work hard to permanently protect natural carbon sinks, such as grasslands, wetlands, farmlands and forests, and work with Indigenous communities to conserve and protect their unceded lands. 

Our ambitious climate plan will be expensive, but will be much cheaper in the long run, and better for people and the planet. It can be achieved by simply shifting where current public dollars are being spent. Funding the plan can be realised by introducing congestion charges on highways, redirecting energy subsidies away from wealthy households, adaptation levies on parking and fossil gas, and ending fossil fuel subsidies for industries, with the exception of farming and fly-in Indigenous communities.

These issues are overwhelming to think about. But they’re not impossible to overcome. I believe the Green Party has the best plan to address them, and that’s why I’m proud to be representing the Green Party and leader, Mike Schreiner. The Green Party is not afraid to speak about hard truths during this election – or any election – because it is through these truths that we can become a more caring and sustainable Ontario for everyone. 

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