Eric Hoskins for LeaderEric Hoskins for Leader http://ericforleader.ca Principled. Experienced. Tue, 15 Jan 2013 20:17:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5 Eric Hoskins Gives Speech to Toronto Board of Trade http://ericforleader.ca/2013/01/15/eric-hoskins-gives-speech-to-toronto-board-of-trade/ http://ericforleader.ca/2013/01/15/eric-hoskins-gives-speech-to-toronto-board-of-trade/#comments Tue, 15 Jan 2013 20:05:08 +0000 gabe http://ericforleader.ca/?p=374 website-vision-header

 

SPEECH TO THE TORONTO BOARD OF TRADE

Check against delivery.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for coming today.  And thank you, Richard, for that warm introduction.  The work that you do with the Toronto Board Trade to advance the policy discussion toward a more prosperous future is un-matched – and it’s an honour to address the Toronto Board of Trade today.

Many people are wondering, after the results this past weekend, what strategy I might possibly have for winning?

My strategy, simply put, is to keep going.

In politics, victory today may mean defeat tomorrow.

And equally, defeat today, may result in victory tomorrow.

 

What is most important through this process, however, is to have conviction, to know what you stand for, to be driven by ideas, and not by ego.

So here are my ideas:

When I entered politics three years ago after a long career as a doctor and the co-founder of an organization that helps children and women in areas of the world ravaged by war, I did so with three fundamental beliefs – beliefs that have motivated me throughout this leadership campaign, and that will continue to motivate me in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

One – all people, no matter where they come from, deserve access to opportunity and prosperity.

Two – we must to work together to bring about that opportunity and prosperity.

And three – we must ensure, always, that no one is left behind.

And so this speech is a call for creativity and innovation, a call for unity, and a call for compassion.

These are my fundamental beliefs – my values.  And I strongly believe that these are also the values that Ontarians hold close to their hearts.  They are the values that will help the Ontario Liberal Party re-connect with Ontarians, and win their trust once again.  They are the values that we as a party must embrace, the values that our new leader – whoever that may be – must embrace for our party and our province to be strong.

It starts with access to opportunity and prosperity.

Our next Premier must show resolve – an un-wavering commitment to a stronger economy where job creation can thrive, where prosperity is shared by all, where government is more effective and more efficient.

To create jobs in our province, the next Premier must embrace innovation and entrepreneurship.  We cannot limit our support for innovation simply to more research and development.  We in Ontario have some of the world’s foremost scientific minds, and for all Ontarians to share in the prosperity their discoveries promise, we must focus on bringing that innovation to market, especially in biotechnology, water technology, and ground-breaking medical research.  That is how innovation creates jobs, and it’s how we will compete on a global scale.

But for a perfect distillation of what I mean when I say that we must support a growing economy where prosperity is shared by all, we must look to an emerging sector of our economy that combines entrepreneurship with a dedication to the social good.

Ontario, we must embrace social innovation! We must embrace the partnerships between private sector and not-for-profit sector partners that hold so much promise not only in growing Ontario’s economy, but in their contributions to the social good.

Despite a range of exciting social innovation projects that are operating at a small scale right now, Ontario is lagging behind other jurisdictions when it comes to social innovation and entrepreneurship.

One of the things that is preventing us from capitalizing on the incredible potential in our communities is the continued refusal of government to afford the not-for-profit sector the same level of respect that it does our private sector.   As someone who ran a not-for-profit for a decade – this sector is every bit as creative as the private sector, every bit as accountable, and every bit as crucial to the economic health of our province.

But the numbers speak for themselves – one million Ontarians work in the not-for-profit sector.  The economic impact of the not-for-profit sector on our province’s GDP is greater that the construction and automobile sectors combined.

But we are falling behind because we have been too slow to embrace the new tools that are flourishing in other jurisdictions – especially in the area of financing, where social innovators face unacceptable regulatory barriers.

Ontario can lead the world in social innovation.  We can export tools that combine profit with the social good.  But it has got to be a priority for the next Premier.

And while we focus on innovation both in the private and not-for-profit sectors so that we can grow our economy and create jobs, we must never lose focus on what I believe is one of our province’s most urgent challenges.

If we do not face our youth unemployment crisis head-on, we risk creating an economic lost generation in which the long-term sustainability and competitiveness of our workforce is threatened.

The unemployment rate for young people under the age of 25 is currently about one-in-five, or nearly 20 percent.   Compare that to an unemployment rate of about 6 percent among adults.

Too many young people are without opportunity.  The problem is especially bad in neighbourhoods and communities with higher concentrations of poverty.  We see it in the news reports on increased gang violence, and we all know the tragic consequences.  This point was driven home for me in the wake of the Danzig Street shooting, when Premier McGuinty tasked me with the creation of our province’s Youth Action Plan.

Through that process, I saw the systemic barriers that many disadvantaged young people face, especially when it comes employment.  I’m proud that through the Youth Action Plan, we have been able to expand our government’s summer jobs programs into the school year, and increase our investments in the programs and services that help young people find jobs and connect with important mentors.

But this isn’t just an issue for youth in communities where there is concentrated disadvantage. It’s a problem for our middle class families too – how many of you have a twenty-something son or daughter, or know of a family where their son or daughter is living in their parents’ basement, without access to a job that matches their qualifications, or that will lead to a career and later, to independence.

It’s easy to make light of this problem when we talk about kids living in their parents’ basements – but if a young person cannot be independent, if a young person is not able to get their foot in the door (and out of the door) on the way to a fulfilling career, our workforce and our economy will suffer in the long-term.

Our next Premier must address the youth unemployment crisis – she or he must take immediate and urgent action to create a Youth Employment Strategy, in partnership with private sector employers and the agencies that provide our young people with the supports they need to find a job and succeed in Ontario’s workforce.

Bringing innovation to market, supporting social innovation and our not-for-profit sector, tackling the youth unemployment crisis.  These are some of my priorities, and they must be priorities for our next Premier.

But when it comes to an economy that is growing, creating jobs, and firing on all cylinders, we must ensure the swift and efficient movement of people and goods.

Too many productive hours are lost in gridlock.

Our next Premier must take action to improve our transportation infrastructure, and especially to invest in expanding our public transit systems in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.  And I know this is a priority for the Toronto Board of Trade.

I have proposed the creation of a new regional transit body – a strengthened Metrolinx – that would be responsible for transit planning and expansion.  This regional body would be separated from the political bickering that has characterized our transit debate especially at the municipal level, as we all have watched the debate over the future of transit in Toronto with growing frustration.

This strengthened regional body would be able to take the long-view, implementing the Big Move as part of its 25-year transit plan, and with strengthened revenue tools.  In assuming responsibility for planning and funding expansion, it would free up municipal transit agencies like the TTC to focus on operations and improving customer service.

We need subways and we need light rail.  We need buses and we need trains.  Simply put – we need to get it done.

Our government is investing $8 billion in transit projects in Toronto.  That is our record – the largest expansion of surface transportation in North America.  We can’t be shy about running on our record, but we also need to ensure that we build on that record and continue to be the party with the best plan for transit in the GTA.

So, I’ve spoken about how we must support greater prosperity, and how we can ensure that all Ontarians share in that prosperity.  And now I want to talk about unity – about the need for a new governing consensus.

I have spent my career building consensus.

As a humanitarian worker in parts of the world ravaged by war – whether in Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan or Iraq – you learn quickly that “going it alone” is not an option.

It is the same in government.  We cannot “go it alone” issuing pronouncements from on high.  The problems are too great, and the need for solutions is too urgent for us to allow partisan bickering to keep us from getting results.

That goes for our own party and how we manage the relationship between MPPs, Ministers, and the Premier’s Office.

And that goes for how we’ve worked with the opposition parties.

Our next Premier must work with the opposition and the communities we serve to get results.  Ontarians gave us a minority government, and said “work together.”  We need to take that to heart by building a new governing consensus.

Consensus is possible.  I believe that we can work with both the Conservatives and the New Democrats to get our budgets passed and improve the lives of Ontarians across the province.

First, with the Progressive Conservatives – I believe that we can work together to make government more efficient, eliminate red tape for our businesses, and grow our economy in new ways.  We can do this by:

  • Re-committing ourselves to our deficit-reduction timetable, with the goal of eliminating the deficit by 2017-2018, a timetable we share with the PC Party.
  • By introducing greater accountability in our relationship with the agencies that receive transfer payments from the government to deliver services.  Too often these organizations continue to receive funding year after year simply because that’s how it’s always been done, without an eye to efficiency or proven, measurable outcomes.
  • By working collaboratively with businesses of all sizes, but especially small businesses, to eliminate red tape through an expanded, collaborative “Open for Business” model that has already seen excellent results.
  • And by paying more attention, and showing more respect, to rural Ontarians.  That means giving local communities a stronger voice in new energy projects.  And it means creating a workable plan for Ontario’s horse racing and horse breeding industry so that this sector, one that employs so many in rural Ontario, can be sustainable and can thrive.

And second, with the NDP – I believe that we can work together, and in fact, we must work together to address the unacceptable levels of poverty in our province.

With that in mind I’d like to turn to my third fundamental belief, that we have a responsibility as Liberals and as servants of the public good to ensure that no one is left behind.

Too many children in this province go hungry.  Too many people are stuck on social assistance with no hope of employment.  Too many people work full-time at minimum wage and struggle to support their family.  Too many of the working poor are unable to afford prescription drugs for themselves and their kids.

I first introduced my plan to reduce poverty in a bit of an unlikely place – the Economic Club of Canada.  And there were some raised eyebrows in the room.  Why is this guy talking about poverty?  Shouldn’t he be talking about deficits?

But I believe reducing poverty must be a core part of our governing consensus.  It’s who we are as Liberals – and Ontarians -, and it’s absolutely crucial for the health of our economy.

And we must start with children.  As a government we’ve lifted more than 40,000 children out of poverty.  That’s an important achievement but there is much more work to do.  We must continue to raise the Ontario Child Benefit.

We must provide a path to employment for people on social assistance.  This means implementing the reforms recommended by the Social Assistance Review, authored by Francis Lankin and Munir Sheikh and supported by an impressive and broad coalition of private sector partners.

We must be prepared to raise the minimum wage so that no adult working full-time at minimum wage falls below the poverty line.

We must create an income-tested prescription drug program so that the working poor can afford medication for their families, and so that individuals receiving social assistance find it easier to transition to the workplace knowing that their drug benefits remain.

These four actions will make a real and immediate difference in the lives of our most vulnerable citizens.  It’s something we can agree on.  It’s the right thing to do in an economy and a province that leaves no one behind.

So there you have it.  My three fundamental beliefs:

One – all people, no matter where they come from, deserve access to opportunity and prosperity.

Two – we must to work together to bring about that opportunity and prosperity.

And three – we must ensure, always, that no one is left behind.

Over the next ten days, I will continue in this leadership race, right into the convention.

I will continue because even if victory ends up being out of reach, you don’t need to win to make a difference.

I got into politics after working for twenty years in places where governments had failed their citizens; because I believe in the power of public service; and because I want to see a strong, vibrant and prosperous Ontario within a strong, vibrant and socially democratic Canada.

I have seen the flip side of these realities…

Twenty years ago, working in Sudan, I saw my friend and colleague arrested, tortured and murdered by his government. I saw children starving to death because of their government’s inability – and unwillingness – to put its citizen’s welfare above its own political interests. And I saw hundreds of thousands of people slaughtered by a regime that could not even begin to understand the concepts of responsible government.

I have since built a career around public service – creating employment for youth where none had previously existed; strengthening communities; designing social programs; investing in infrastructure that improves, promotes and protects people – including health care and education.

I am in this race to effect change, to help this province achieve its potential to be a progressive voice at a time of political disengagement and disillusionment.

And having served now for three years – first as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, most recently as Minister of Children and Youth Services – for me, this is only the beginning.

And I hope, together, we will keep this vision going.

There is no shame in not winning. There is only shame in not trying. I am a voice for change, and I will keep going.

I am proud of the campaign we have run.  I am proud of my team, my volunteers, my delegates, and those who put their name forward to stand.

We have come a long way.  And we did it together.

And now, on to the convention!

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Samantha Nutt speaks about her husband, Eric Hoskins. http://ericforleader.ca/2013/01/12/samantha-nutt-speaks-about-her-husband-eric-hoskins/ http://ericforleader.ca/2013/01/12/samantha-nutt-speaks-about-her-husband-eric-hoskins/#comments Sat, 12 Jan 2013 14:25:23 +0000 gabe http://ericforleader.ca/?p=372 http://ericforleader.ca/2013/01/12/samantha-nutt-speaks-about-her-husband-eric-hoskins/feed/ 0 Bob Wong, Dianne Poole, Bob Speller Join Growing List of Hoskins Supporters http://ericforleader.ca/2013/01/12/bob-wong-dianne-poole-bob-speller-join-growing-list-of-hoskins-supporters/ http://ericforleader.ca/2013/01/12/bob-wong-dianne-poole-bob-speller-join-growing-list-of-hoskins-supporters/#comments Sat, 12 Jan 2013 14:21:30 +0000 gabe http://ericforleader.ca/?p=368 website-NR-header

(TORONTO – January 12, 2013) Former MPP and Peterson-era Cabinet Minister Bob Wong announced today that he is endorsing Eric Hoskins for leader of the Ontario Liberal Party.  Hoskins also welcomes former Liberal MPP Dianne Poole and former federal MP and Agriculture Minister Bob Speller as the co-chairs of his campaign to secure the support of Liberal ex-officio delegates.

“I’ve looked at all the candidates for leader, and it is clear to me that Eric Hoskins represents the future of our party,” Wong said. “Eric Hoskins is the only candidate that can lead us into the next decade. He is someone of great integrity and compassion.  He is a strong leader who will build consensus in government and who will win at election time.”

With wide networks of Liberals who will be standing as delegates, their support provides a strong push in this weekend’s local Leadership Election Meetings.

“I’m proud to welcome Bob Wong, Dianne Poole and Bob Speller to my campaign,” Hoskins said. “Throughout their respective careers they have shown a tremendous commitment to public service and to our party, and their support comes at a critical time as we get closer and closer to the convention.”

Ontario Liberal Party members across the province vote on January 12th and 13th to select their delegates to the leadership convention in Toronto, held from January 25th-27th.

Biographies:

Bob Wong – former Liberal MPP for the riding of Fort York (1987-1990); Minister of Energy (1987-1989); Minister of Citizenship responsible for race relations, multiculturalism, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission (1989-1990).

Dianne Poole – former Liberal MPP for the riding of Eglinton (1987-1995).

Bob Speller – former Liberal MP for the riding of Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant (1988-2004); Chair of the Liberal Rural Caucus; Minister of Agriculture (2003-2004).

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Media contact:
Gabe De Roche
416-723-5261
gabederoche@gmail.com

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“Hockey Mom” – Eric Hoskins Radio Ad http://ericforleader.ca/2013/01/08/hockey-mom-eric-hoskins-radio-ad/ http://ericforleader.ca/2013/01/08/hockey-mom-eric-hoskins-radio-ad/#comments Tue, 08 Jan 2013 18:30:53 +0000 gabe http://ericforleader.ca/?p=352 http://ericforleader.ca/2013/01/08/hockey-mom-eric-hoskins-radio-ad/feed/ 0 Hoskins Releases New Radio Ad http://ericforleader.ca/2013/01/08/hoskins-releases-new-radio-ad/ http://ericforleader.ca/2013/01/08/hoskins-releases-new-radio-ad/#comments Tue, 08 Jan 2013 16:00:22 +0000 gabe http://ericforleader.ca/?p=341 website-NR-header

Ontario Liberal leadership candidate Eric Hoskins released the first in a series of radio ads today emphasizing his electability and the broad appeal he brings to the race for leader.
The ads will run on radio in the Greater Toronto Area.

The first in the series of Hoskins radio ads is called “Hockey Mom.” In this ad, a mother talks about how Eric’s experience outside of politics shows that he’s someone who cares about the most vulnerable, and is the kind of politician families need.

The ad can be heard on Eric Hoskins’s YouTube channel, http://youtube.com/user/erichoskinsmpp.

The ads will run in advance of the local Leadership Election Meetings taking place in ridings across the province on January 12th and 13th to elect delegates for the leadership convention in Toronto during the weekend of January 25th-27th.

YouTube – “Hockey Mom” – Eric Hoskins Radio Ad

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Media contact:
Gabe De Roche
416-723-5261
gabederoche@gmail.com

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Happy Holidays http://ericforleader.ca/2012/12/24/happy-holidays/ http://ericforleader.ca/2012/12/24/happy-holidays/#comments Mon, 24 Dec 2012 13:24:52 +0000 gabe http://ericforleader.ca/?p=349 holiday-postcard

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Hoskins calls on government not to use Bill 115. In return, teachers to halt job actions. http://ericforleader.ca/2012/12/21/hoskins-calls-on-government-not-to-use-bill-115-in-return-teachers-to-halt-job-actions/ http://ericforleader.ca/2012/12/21/hoskins-calls-on-government-not-to-use-bill-115-in-return-teachers-to-halt-job-actions/#comments Fri, 21 Dec 2012 17:20:02 +0000 gabe http://ericforleader.ca/?p=336

website-NR-header

Hoskins calls on government not to use Bill 115. In return, teachers to halt job actions.

Both sides should seek negotiated agreement through collective bargaining based on respect and fiscal realities.

DECEMBER 21, 2012 – For immediate release.

Eric Hoskins, candidate for leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, released the following statement this morning:

The announcement this morning from the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) presents an opportunity for the government to hit reset on negotiations.

A negotiated settlement is always better than a legislated one. The agreement we reached with Ontario’s doctors proves it’s possible.

I commend ETFO’s offer to halt further strike actions on the condition that the government does not implement Bill 115.

Both sides must return to the negotiating table as soon as possible. As Premier, this will be my priority. I am confident that as Premier, if negotiations have not concluded, I will be able to reach an agreement with teachers through collective bargaining based on respect and our fiscal realities.

This means that the government should not impose the provisions of Bill 115, and in return our teachers and education workers must refrain from further job actions.  That is what it will take to reach a negotiated agreement.

The current environment is eroding the alliance we’ve built with our teachers, education workers, and administrators. That education alliance has allowed us to build the best education system in the English-speaking world.

All sides must show leadership. They must be collaborative. They must be flexible. And they must put the interests of students and their parents first.

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Media contact:

Gabe De Roche
416-723-5261
gabederoche@gmail.com

Visit our website: www.ericforleader.ca

Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EricForLeader

Like us on Facebook: http://facebook.com/DrEricHoskins

Watch us on YouTube: http://youtube.com/user/erichoskinsmpp

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Eric Presents Prescription for a Healthy Economy http://ericforleader.ca/2012/12/17/eric-presents-prescription-for-a-healthy-economy/ http://ericforleader.ca/2012/12/17/eric-presents-prescription-for-a-healthy-economy/#comments Mon, 17 Dec 2012 17:17:16 +0000 gabe http://ericforleader.ca/?p=318 website-healthyeconomy

CLICK HERE TO READ ERIC’S PRESCRIPTION FOR A HEALTHY ECONOMY

Ontario Liberal Party Leadership Candidate Eric Hoskins today laid out his five-point plan to build a healthy economy in Ontario.

“The health of our families and our communities is inextricably linked to a sustainable, healthy, growing economy,” Dr. Hoskins said in a speech to the Economic Club of Canada.

“People are healthy when their society is healthy. They thrive when their economy is growing. They only succeed with adequate housing, reliable transit, and strong social services. They can only build a better future for their children when they are financially secure – when they have hope and opportunity.”

Dr. Hoskins said his five-point plan for a healthy economy will address the major challenges to future growth in Ontario by:

  • Transforming health care by investing in preventative as well as long term and home care services, shifting away from fee-for-service payments,  and income-testing for tax credits and benefits;
  • Investing in transportation infrastructure to create new jobs and nurture a future for Ontario where the movement of goods and people is not an impediment to growth;
  • Creating jobs through innovation with a focus on youth;
  • Respecting rural Ontario and the North by investing in its future prosperity through initiatives like high-speed Internet; and by giving small business and entrepreneurs access to economic development funds; and
  • Taking immediate actions to tackle poverty by taking steps towards implementing an income-tested prescription drug plan, continuing to increase the Ontario Child Benefit and ensuring a liveable minimum wage.

Dr. Hoskins said that these steps are just the beginning when it comes to ensuring that Ontario is ready to take on the challenges of the future.

“As a doctor, I know that it’s not enough to simply write a prescription and send your patient on their way.  Delivering on the promise of a healthy economy will take work – hard work – and some difficult decisions,” he said.

“But I have never been one to shy away from tough decisions or hard work – even in the most difficult circumstances. When there’s a job to be done – we roll up our sleeves and we get to work.”

CLICK HERE TO READ ERIC’S PRESCRIPTION FOR A HEALTHY ECONOMY

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Media contact:

Gabe De Roche
416-723-5261
gabederoche@gmail.com

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Eric’s Prescription for a Healthy Economy http://ericforleader.ca/2012/12/17/erics-prescription-for-a-healthy-economy/ http://ericforleader.ca/2012/12/17/erics-prescription-for-a-healthy-economy/#comments Mon, 17 Dec 2012 15:00:22 +0000 gabe http://ericforleader.ca/?p=324 website-healthyeconomy

Eric Hoskins presents his Prescription for a Healthy Economy in a speech to the Economic Club of Canada

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE WEBSITE FOR ERIC’S PRESCRIPTION FOR A HEALTHY ECONOMY

//CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY//

Good afternoon everyone.

I want to thank you for being here – and thank you to the Economic Club of Canada for hosting me today.

I’m here today to present what I’m calling my “Prescription for a Healthy Economy.”

And that isn’t just an opportunity to remind everyone that I am a doctor.

It is a prescription rooted in the fundamental belief that has motivated me throughout my career – whether that has been practicing medicine here in Ontario, or the many years I spent in some of the world’s most dangerous areas where the needs were at times overwhelming.  It is a belief that got me into politics in the first place, and it’s why I have decided to run for leader of our party.

As some of you may know, after finishing my medical studies at McMaster University, I spent nearly a decade as a doctor in war-torn regions throughout the world.

Together, with my wife, Dr. Samantha Nutt, we founded the international charity War Child Canada, which helps thousands of children in war-affected regions around the globe.

My fundamental belief is this: people are healthy when their society is healthy. They thrive when their economy is growing. They only succeed with adequate housing, reliable  transit, and strong social services. They can only build a better future for their children when they are financially secure – when they have hope and opportunity.

And that applies to all people, including Ontarians. The health of our families and our communities is inextricably linked to a sustainable, healthy, growing economy.

My prescription for a healthy economy is a prescription for Ontario. They are one and the same. It is what we need.  It is my vision for what we can accomplish together if I am elected premier.

As premier, I will implement a five-point plan to shape Ontario’s economy.

I will do that by:

  1. Transforming health care;
  2. Investing in transportation infrastructure;
  3. Creating jobs;
  4. Respecting rural and northern Ontario; and
  5. Tackling poverty.

[Reduce Deficit and Sustain Healthcare]

Let me start first by making a clear commitment. I will eliminate our deficit by 2017-2018.

We need to ensure that we meet these targets so that our economy keeps growing; so that our social services, our health care, and our education system – services our families depend on – are sustainable.

But the question is how? The solution is not simply to cut services or raise taxes.

We, as government, must fundamentally change the way we do business. We must innovate. We must be more efficient.

Let’s start with what is by far the government’s largest expense – healthcare.

As a public health specialist and medical doctor who has practiced in Ontario for many years, health care is an issue I understand like no other candidate who is running to lead the Ontario Liberal Party.

My policy and my position on healthcare are based on experience inside and outside of government within the policy arena and on the front lines of health care in this province.

Health care is nearly half the budget.

Think about it!

That means one out of every two dollars government spends goes to health care.

We need to transform healthcare to ensure our healthcare services are sustainable.

I am committed to universal health care.

I will reduce the cost of expensive hospital-based care by investing in preventative as well as long-term and home-care services. This approach includes shifting away from fee-for-service payments.

Better care for fewer dollars!

Just look at the latest Ontario Medical Association deal – doctors will be doing more house calls, so that our seniors will not have to come into hospital when they need care.

Under the deal, doctors have also committed to other innovative ways to cut costs, including doing more evidence-based drug prescribing and eliminating unnecessary testing.

Better care for fewer dollars.

I also support an income-tested drug plan, and I will speak about that in more detail later.

As well, I support enhanced home care. That means helping seniors stay in their homes longer. And that saves money.

The same goes for technological improvements that will allow patients to communicate with health care providers from home through email and tele-medicine, rather than having to go to their family doctor.

This is a fundamental change in how our health care system operates. It will ensure our health care system is sustainable in the future.

But transforming the health care system is only one way that we can deliver better care for less money.  Across the social services sector, we need to improve our accountability measures to make sure that we’re getting value for the money we spend.

We give funding to agencies year after year without the rigorous accountability needed to ensure they’re delivering the outcomes we expect.

As someone who spent more than a decade in the non-profit sector as the head of a multi-million dollar charity, I understand the value of money. I understand what it means to be a transparent and accountable steward of public money.

Everyday we did more with less, stretching every dollar to improve the lives of the people we served. As well, we had to publicly show where the money went.

Government would do well to take a lesson from our dynamic not-for-profit and charitable sector, as well as the business sector.

We also need to shine a light on how much money from our provincial treasury is spent on tax credits and benefits – and it’s time to ask whether they are having the right effect, particularly in this time of fiscal restraint.

Take the Children’s Activity Tax Credit – for families that send their kids to swimming lessons, wealthy families don’t need the fifty bucks. It’s a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have.

So what do we do about it? It’s time to start income-testing these tax credits and benefits.

As premier, I will commit to a full review of the tax credits and benefits currently on the books because those who don’t need them should not be eligible.

[Investing in Infrastructure]

But even in a time of fiscal restraint, we cannot stop investing, which brings me to my second point. We need to invest in the transportation infrastructure that keeps our economy running strong.

NOW is the time to invest in our infrastructure.

Interest rates are extremely low; we have an available pool of labour that needs work; we can create jobs by undertaking the projects we need to ensure Ontario remains competitive.

I am committed to creating the healthy economic conditions in which job creation can thrive.

As someone who lives in Toronto, I’ve watched the debates over the past year between city councillors and the mayor.  I watched with interest, and with growing frustration.

We need to move forward with investment in transportation infrastructure, and we need to do it in a way that is separated from political bickering.  We need subways, and we need light rail.  We need buses, and we need commuter rail. We need to get you home faster.

And I will lead the way.

As premier, I will create a 20-year transportation plan that will make Metrolinx’s Big Move strategy a reality – ensuring a modern and reliable transportation system for future growth.

To do this, we must ensure that planning for transit expansion goes beyond our four-year political cycles – not just at the provincial level, but at the municipal level as well.

We must ensure long-term access to funding and a dedicated income stream that is immune from partisan bickering.

My commitment to the Big Move does that!

I will ensure that planning and investment in transit is done at a regional level – through a new Metrolinx – while directing local transit agencies like the TTC to focus on operations and improving customer service.

That regional transportation authority must also have new revenue streams at its disposal to bring investment in transportation infrastructure outside of the annual political budgeting process.

And those new revenue streams have to be a combination of public and private sector initiatives.  Experts are telling us that they could include parking charges, tolls and congestion charges to pay for the expansion.

Bottom line:  Everything is on the table.

And, as premier, I will work with municipalities and our private sector partners to determine the right mix of revenue streams.

But we need to get it done.

Transportation infrastructure is too important, and the need is too great, to continue to allow it to be held hostage to partisan politics.

Take the Gardiner Expressway here in Toronto.  You can’t focus on a 20-year infrastructure plan at the municipal level when there’s concrete falling from the sky.

But transportation is not only an issue important to the GTA and the Golden Horseshoe region.

Our rural communities need more investment in transportation infrastructure too – like roads and bridges.

I am already on record to give rural municipalities their fair share of gas tax revenues – so they can invest in the transportation infrastructure they need to move people and goods, create jobs and grow their economies.

[Job Creation]

However, investing in transportation infrastructure is only one of the conditions that will support job creation in a healthy economy.

To drive economic growth today and tomorrow, we need to innovate. We need to support research and development. But more than that – we need to put more of our focus on commercializing that research.

That means creating centres of innovation, not just in the high-tech and IT industry, but in areas like biomedical research, sustainable agriculture, and water technology – the so-called Blue Economy, which Ontario can lead given that we are blessed with so many freshwater resources.

But innovation comes not just from new ideas; it comes from new workers.

We need to integrate new skilled immigrants into our workforce much quicker. We’re letting innovation go un-tapped with many unnecessary “Canadian experience” requirements for professionals who have immigrated to Ontario.

But when it comes to job creation we run the risk of creating an economic lost generation. We have a crisis with our future – our youth.

I think everybody in this room would agree with me that young people face an appalling lack of opportunity on the job front.

There is a crisis in youth unemployment across Ontario; especially in rural areas and in some of our urban neighbourhoods.

At nearly 20 per cent, youth unemployment is more than double the provincial and national unemployment rate.

Aside from the obvious economic and social reasons, we have a moral obligation to address it.

As premier, I would focus on youth employment with a series of targeted programs.

Through the Youth Action Plan I spearheaded when I was Minister of Children and Youth Services, we are already expanding employment programs for young people so that they go beyond the summer and into part-time jobs during the school year. As premier, I will expand it further.

But we also need to ensure that young people can enter the skilled trades, where we have a shortage of prospective employees – and that means working with our partners in the private sector and in labour organizations to support youth hiring as part of any major infrastructure project.

Finally, I would also create a volunteer program for youth coming out of college or university.

This would allow students to work off part of their OSAP loans through community service in Canada or internationally. They would gain valuable experience, reduce their debt burden and help the community. Young entrepreneurs could also get a deferral on the payback of their loan.

This is by no means a cure-all here. These are steps, steps that must be taken, and taken together if we are to start reducing youth unemployment.

But the provinces can’t act alone. In fact, Ottawa needs to lead the charge on this crisis and develop a national strategy for youth employment. I would work with the federal government on this.

[Respect for Rural and Northern Ontario]

I would like now to talk to you about another issue that’s very important to me because it’s a part of who I am.

I grew up in a small town, in Simcoe, in southwestern Ontario. I was the youngest of five kids.  I went to the local public schools, and I learned the value of hard work – farming apples, cherries and peaches during the summers.

And I have spent much of this leadership campaign in small-town Ontario, visiting with Ontarians, listening to their concerns, their hopes for themselves, their families, their children.

One thing has become very apparent to me in my travels.  Ontario’s revitalization is not being felt equally in all parts of this province, including rural and northern Ontario.

Small towns have lost their local plant … rural youth face an even more daunting crisis of unemployment … rural communities lack the infrastructure to connect with today’s economy.

It is not enough to congratulate ourselves on the progress we’ve made as a province – especially when it masks the fact that there are so many Ontarians who are at risk of being left behind.

That’s why my first policy announcement was entitled “Respect for Rural Ontario.”

It is a plan for:

A stronger rural voice;

Stronger rural communities;

And a stronger rural economy.

We cannot thrive and our businesses cannot grow in the 21st century economy when they do not have access to a fast and reliable Internet connection.

I am committed to a strategy that will bring high-speed Internet to communities all across this province.

We also need to support rural economic development more broadly by giving small business and entrepreneurs access to economic development funds, tax incentives for hiring rural workers, and supports to provide on-the-job training to new youth hires.

My rural platform is important to me – not just because I was born and raised in rural Ontario.  It’s important because in a healthy economy and a healthy Ontario, we leave no one behind.

[Poverty]

And that brings me to my final point today: my plan to tackle poverty.

As I’ve made clear, a healthy economy leaves no one behind.

We cannot stay silent while the most vulnerable among us, especially children, continue to live in poverty;

While men and women on Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program, better known as ODSP, continue to rely on those benefits with no hope of employment;

Too many Ontario families are living below the poverty line.

We can – and must – do something about it.

We must begin with our children, because that is how we will break the cycle of poverty.  Our government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy showed that good policy makes a difference – and it has lifted tens of thousands of children out of poverty.

But there’s so much more to do.

As premier, I would build on the work that has been done.

I would implement the key recommendations of the Social Assistance Review, headed by Frances Lankin and Munir Sheikh.

In particular, I would consolidate benefits giving Ontarians on social assistance a one-stop shop, because navigating a complicated bureaucracy should be the last thing they have to deal with.

I will also put into place what I believe is their most important recommendation –providing people on social assistance with a path to employment.

The Social Assistance Review, along with an impressive group of private-sector partners, has provided a blueprint. We need to follow it.

As well, I would continue to increase the Ontario Child Benefit providing tangible relief to families in need.

To further help people get off social assistance, we must eliminate other roadblocks.

As I said earlier, as premier, I would take steps towards implementing an income-tested prescription drug plan.

There are too many people stuck on social assistance because they can’t afford to lose their drug coverage.  By income testing our drug plan, we could ensure that those who cannot afford their prescriptions get the support they need – whether they’re working or receiving social assistance.

An income-tested drug plan would help get people off social assistance without costing them their benefits and would assist the working poor who can’t afford medication for their children.

Finally, let me address the minimum wage.

I am committed to increasing the minimum wage over the course of my mandate to ensure that no adult working full time lives below the poverty line.

Ontario’s economy will never be healthy while poverty abounds. The choice is not between supporting job creation and economic growth, or supporting anti-poverty programs.  The two go hand- in-hand.  You cannot have one without the other.

Conclusion

There you have it – a plan to transform healthcare … a 20-year investment in transportation infrastructure… job creation… respect for rural and northern Ontario… and immediate actions to tackle poverty.

This is my prescription for a healthy economy; this is my plan to transform Ontario for the future.

But as a doctor, I know that it’s not enough to simply write a prescription and send your patient on their way.

Delivering on the promise of a healthy economy will take work – hard work – and some difficult decisions.

But I have never been one to shy away from tough decisions or hard work – even in the most difficult circumstances.

My experience working inside and outside of politics, here in Ontario and around the world has taught me a very important lesson.

When there’s a job to be done… we roll up our sleeves…  and we get to work.

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Happy Hanukkah! http://ericforleader.ca/2012/12/15/happy-hanukkah/ http://ericforleader.ca/2012/12/15/happy-hanukkah/#comments Sat, 15 Dec 2012 19:14:05 +0000 gabe http://ericforleader.ca/?p=307 Hanukkah

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