Ottawa/Queen's Park




- by Karen Gventer

Doug Ford channels anger and there is a lot of well-deserved anger in rural Ontario. The Liberals have virtually ignored areas like Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound for their whole mandate. One of the things that sticks in the craw of a lot of people is how wind farms were shoved down our throats. That alone is one of the reasons it's NDP policy to consult.

People need more money and better housing. We're tired of seeing industry go south and our kids go along with it. Those of us who stay are left hunting for a living among a poor selection of part time, low wage precarious jobs.

Rural folks are angry and we have a right to be. But Mr Ford's platform offers no relief. He'll deny workers the raise in the minimum wage they need. He says they'll make it back at tax time, assuming everyone files tax returns. Even if they do, they won't get as much back as $15 an hour will pay.

OK, he'll cut hydro costs. But he'll do it the same way Ms Wynne has been doing – by borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. That'll add to our debt. In fact, when you tally up his promises, the only thing he can guarantee is a bigger deficit than the Liberals have left us.

We know that bad jobs and bad housing contributes to bad health and that's why we want more people to have better access to prescription medicines and dental care – the things you've heard us promise.

But perhaps the best prescription is what no one has talked much about – how to create jobs, good jobs, with benefits. That's tough in rural Ontario these days, but then, the folks of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound are a hardy and inventive lot. I believe that, if government puts the pieces in place we can create the kind of jobs that will pay for a middle-class lifestyle and tempt our children to stay.

Here's how an NDP government would do it ...

We put dollars and energy into fostering innovation – not just technical innovation, but innovative services and practices in a number of fields, including farming, housing, nuclear, tourism.

· We complete the job that the excellent team at SWIFT has started and deliver high speed Internet to the riding, including farmers who are increasingly selling to a global market.

· We bring universities into the area – either in the form of satellite campuses or in partnership with Georgian College. The University of Guelph has closed its agriculture campus in Kemptville. Why not open another one in Grey or Bruce?

· We encourage Georgian College in Owen Sound to create and promote courses relevant to our needs – farm management, solar electrical engineering, innovative entrepreneurship, for example.

· We stop thinking of economic development in terms of municipalities and start thinking about what a regional economic plan might look like.

· We scour the innovation hubs in Kitchener Waterloo and Toronto for people who would love to start a business in such a beautiful part of the Province. Caframo is a good example of a company that manufactures eco-friendly, innovative products for a world market.

There's a lot we can do if we put out minds to it. It'll take work and cooperation and thinking outside the box we usually put ourselves in. This is what change for the better looks like.

Karen Gventer is the ONDP candidate for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound


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