Q&A with Guelph-Wellington Candidates for 2018 Provincial Election

Questions from the Guelph Wellington Coalition for Social Justice

Answers to our questions are posted in the order they are received. This page will be updated as more responses become available.

Juanita Burnett – Communist Party of Ontario

1. Question on Electoral Reform:

Will you support Electoral Reform when you win the Guelph MPP seat in Queen’s Park?


Yes! Of course I will continue to support Proportional Representation – Mixed Member Proportional (MMP). There are a number of other things the Communist Party of Canada (Ontario) will enact in order to further democratize elections, including introducing ‘right-to-recall’ legislation for all elected offices, extending democratic local control for school boards, and lowering the voting age to 16.

2. Questions on Poverty:

What would the CPC(O) do to reform the social assistance system to ensure that recipients would have adequate resources to raise healthy children?

What will we do to increase access to child care spaces and to bring down costs so that parents can fully contribute to the economy?

Will we commit to continuing to raise the minimum wage until it reaches a level where a person working full time can have an adequate standard of living?


The Communist Party positions issues of inequality and oppression as budget priorities. There need to be substantial increases to public assistance rates immediately. We will build a provincial system of universally accessible and quality public childcare, free of charge. We need to introduce 24-hour childcare, as many work other shifts, or have other emergencies beyond typical daycare hours. We will raise wages and require ECE certification for childcare workers. We most definitely commit to increasing the provincial minimum wage to a livable wage of $20, and to maintain it relative to the cost of living.

The Communist Party believes that all people deserve an adequate standard of living. We would legislate a 32-hour work week with no loss in take-home pay, benefits or pensions, no compulsory overtime, and four weeks of annual paid vacation. All of these measures would allow all families to have adequate resources to raise healthy children, as well as the time and energy to spend quality time with their families.

Progressive tax reform measures would be needed, of course. We would be doubling the corporate income tax rate, to 23%, restoring Ontario’s corporate capital tax (which provided over $1 billion per year until it was eliminated in 2010), and introducing wealth and inheritance taxes on estates over $1 million, among other things.

3. Questions on Public Sector Services and Privatization:

What public sector services do you believe must never be privatized and why?

What public sector services do you believe should be open to privatization and why?


In the preamble to this question, I found a number of issues as well, such as:

a) whose taxes?

b) definition of ‘efficiency’?
c) whose costs, and whose satisfaction?
d) I don’t see us as ‘customers’, but as community members. Services should be part of the deal.

To answer the question, I don’t believe any public sector services should be privatized. We need to expand public services, including health, education, housing, childcare, sports, culture and recreation, and transit and transportation.

There are a number of other services and industries we believe should be publicly owned, such as domestic steel, pharmaceuticals, energy and natural resources which would be developed based upon the full consent, agreement and participation of indigenous communities, in an environmentally responsible manner. P3 projects would be replaced with publicly owned and democratically controlled processes and institutions.

4. Question on Child Welfare and the First Nations:

What specific calls to action at the provincial level regarding Indigenous child welfare would you address first?


First calls to action need to be basic – immediate cleanup of poisoned Indigenous land and water, just compensation to people and families who have suffered health effects from poisoned land and water, and equitable standards and funding for housing, job creation, quality education and health care for Indigenous people living on or off reserves.

5. Question on Water For Life Not Profit:

Where does the CPC(Ontario) stand on continued consumption of water from our watershed, and on phasing out the bottling of our groundwater over the next ten years, and on giving permits to companies for private profit?


We would halt and cancel corporate contracts for withdrawing freshwater for bottling, and introduce strict public management of water systems. Private companies should not profit off of such a basic resource as our water.

6. Question on Pharmacare:

Do I agree with RNAO that we need a provincial pharmacare program covering all medically necessary drugs without means testing, user fees or copayments for Ontarians of all ages?


Absolutely. We would provide full care to all residents of Ontario, including temporary foreign workers, international students, and refugees.

7. Question on Housing:

What will you do to improve social housing in Guelph?


The Communist Party has been working hard on a housing campaign over the last year (plus). We recognize housing as a human right, and would introduce a Tenant Bill of Rights and provincial housing program to ensure adequate housing based on need is provided to all. We would build 200,000 affordable social housing units across Ontario within four years, and maintain levels based on need. We would upgrade and maintain existing units, enact rent controls, legislate rent rollbacks, and deliver proper building inspections for rental housing, among other things to improve the social housing situation in Guelph.

Sly Castaldi – Liberal Party of Ontario

1. Question on Electoral Reform:

The Law Commission Report of 2004 recommended that Canada adopt a Proportional Representation voting system. During the period 1977 to 2007, twelve more Reports, Commissions, and Studies on Electoral Reform took place; all recommended that we replace First Past the Post voting systems. The Special Commission on Electoral Reform studied Electoral Systems during the summer of 2016 and collected strong evidence that Proportional Representation would be a significant improvement. Will you support Electoral Reform when you win the Guelph MPP seat in Queen’s Park?

The Ontario Liberal Party believes in modernizing the electoral process and passed legislation to give municipalities the option of using ranked ballots in future municipal elections, beginning in 2018.

The Municipal Elections Modernization Act, 2016 reforms the Municipal Elections Act. It will increase transparency and accountability by:

  • Making campaign finance rules clearer and easier to follow for voters, candidates and contributors
  • Banning corporate and union contributions to candidates
  • Creating a framework to regulate third-party advertising, including contribution and spending limits, and to define third-party advertising as advertisements supporting or opposing a candidate
  • Shortening the length of campaigns by opening nominations for candidates on May 1 instead of January 1
  • Requiring the municipal clerk to prepare a plan regarding the identification, removal and prevention of barriers that could affect electors and candidates with disabilities
  • Making it easier to add or change certain information on the voters’ list.

At the provincial level, we passed legislation to make the province’s election financing system among the strongest and most transparent in Canada.

The Election Finances Statute Law Amendment Act, 2016 included new rules about who can make contributions and how much they can donate and creates restrictions on attendance at fundraisers for politicians and their staff.

Key measures include of the Legislation Include:

  • Banning MPPs, candidates, party leaders, nomination contestants, leadership contestants and many political staff from attending political fundraising events
  • Banning corporations, unions and other groups not affiliated with political parties from making political donations
  • Reducing the total amount individuals can donate by almost 90 per cent — from $33,250 to a maximum of $3,600 in an election year.

2. Questions on Poverty:

Despite the implementation of various poverty reduction strategies one in eight Ontario families with children lives below the poverty line. Those who are receiving Ontario Works and ODSP live in deep poverty unable to afford safe housing and healthy food. Income inequality is growing along with the increase in precarious jobs that are part-time and contract positions, often without benefits. Lone parent and low income families struggle to find affordable child care.

If your party were to form the next provincial government what would it do to reform the social assistance system to ensure that recipients would have adequate resources to raise healthy children?

Ontario’s Liberal government has a strong record when it comes to providing supports for those on social assistance. In the 2018 Budget, the Liberal government outlined a first phase of critical income security reform. This plan is based on the recommendations in the Income Security Reform Roadmap and is designed to deliver immediate help to those in deepest need.

Should the budget pass, we are committed to investing $2.3 billion over the next three years to support a significant start on reform – the largest single investment in 25 years.

The Liberal government has raised social assistance rates in 13 of the last 14 years, including in this year’s budget. However, the plan we have put forward is about more than rates, we will also work to turn social assistance into a more simple, responsive and person-focused service. This involves extensive rule changes to create a system that has a positive impact, not a punitive one, on people’s lives. This includes changing the rules defining “spouse” for unmarried couples, to align with the Family Law Act. We will fully exempt asset limits for people with disabilities. And we are also proposing an increase in earning exemptions from $200 to $400/ month in the first year and in year two, to annualize the exemption to $6,000/year, a 150% increase compared to today. By the third year, this total annual exemption of $6,000 will also apply to payments from CPP-D, EI or WSIB.

The Ontario Liberal Party believes it is critically important to support people who require social assistance by treating them with dignity, respect and trust.

Just last month we celebrated the one year anniversary of Ontario’s first ever Basic Income Pilot. Our province has become a world leader by piloting this initiative in Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Lindsay. The Ontario Liberal party is committed to continuing the work started and will look at how a basic income might expand opportunities and job prospects while providing greater security for people living on low incomes and their families.

What will your party do to increase access to child care spaces and to bring down the costs so that parents can fully contribute to the economy?

Our Liberal government is making high-quality, licensed preschool child care free for children between the ages of 2.5 to full day kindergarten, starting in 2020.  By investing $2.2 billion over three years, free preschool child care will save families $17,000 until children reach Full Day Kindergarten.

Every dollar invested in child care translates to a $2.50 benefit to the Ontario economy because of increases in the working hours and wages of women.

We’re also supporting Ontario’s world-class Early Childhood Educators and program staff that deliver this care, by improving compensation through a wage grid, starting in 2020.

Furthermore, we are committed to building 10,000 preschool spaces, 4,000 community-based spaces and more subsidized childcare spaces, and this Liberal government is investing $40 million to support child care programs in First Nations communities.

Will your party commit to continuing to raise the minimum wage until it reaches a level where a person working full time can have an adequate standard of living?

Yes. We want everyone to benefit from Ontario’s growing economy, but we know that many workers in Ontario are finding it hard to support their families on a minimum wage that just doesn’t go far enough.

That’s why the Ontario Liberal Party has committed to phasing in a $15 minimum wage over 18 months to ensure more workers are benefiting.

Thanks to our party’s leadership, thousands of hard-working, minimum wage workers across the province are getting paid more fairly as of January 1, 2018. And with an Ontario Liberal government leading this province forward, they’ll start earning at least $15 an hour next January too.

3. Questions on Public Sector Services and Privatization:

For 40 years Privatization of Public-Sector Services have been encouraged by such organizations as the Fraser Institute and the C.D. Howe Institute. They as well as other proponents of Privatization claim that Privatization:

*Reduces Taxes

*Offers more efficiency

*Shrinks Government Size

*Cuts costs and offers greater customer satisfaction

And yet Privatization there is No evidence to support this. There Is evidence of negative impacts.

Our question to you is: What public-sector services do you believe must never be privatized and why? What public-sector services do you believe should be open to privatization and why?

Ontario Liberals believe firmly in our public healthcare and education systems.

Universal access to health care and a commitment to health equity are fundamental values underpinning our health care system as Ontario Liberals. Their preservation is essential for the health of Ontarians now and in the future.

In Ontario, the Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act (CFMA) makes it illegal for any person or entity to charge, or accept any benefit, for an insured service in addition to the amount that is paid by OHIP. It is also illegal for any person to pay charge or receive payment or other benefit in exchange for an insured service.

We also made it illegal for any person to pay, charge, or receive payment or other benefits to receive special or expedited access to the Medicare system.

We are improving hospitals by providing better access to care, reducing wait times, addressing capacity issues and better meeting the needs of Ontario’s growing and aging population through an additional $822-million investment in 2018–19 — the largest single government investment in hospitals in almost a decade. We are also investing approximately $19 billion over 10 years to build and renovate hospitals to provide more and faster health care for people.

4. Question on Child Welfare and the First Nations:

In the Truth and Reconciliation Report child welfare, equity, and reform are listed as its top calls to action. In Ontario provincial child welfare systems have substantively failed First Nations children. Less than 8% of all Canadian children under 14 are Indigenous but they comprise 52% of all children in foster care in Canada. Youth suicide rates, self-harm, addiction and substance use reveal the trauma generations of Indigenous children, families and communities continue to experience as a result of the cultural genocide of residential schools and the ‘sixties scoop’.

What specific calls to action at the provincial level regarding Indigenous child welfare would you address first?

A central component of the Ontario Liberal Plan for Care and Opportunity is a commitment to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. We recognize that First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples face barriers to fairness and opportunity. We understand that beneath the surface of so many issues facing Indigenous families is the multigenerational impact of hundreds of years of oppression, colonization, systemic racism and broken systems that have impacted the mental health of generations of Indigenous people.

The Ontario Liberal government has taken steps to address and make amends for the systemic, intergenerational injustices suffered by Indigenous communities. It has offered an official apology for Ontario’s role in the Indian Residential School system and made a $250 million commitment to reconciliation through The Journey Together: Ontario’s Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

The Ontario Indigenous Children and Youth Strategy is the overarching approach for improving outcomes for Indigenous children and youth in Ontario and is a key part of our response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action. The Strategy was co-developed with, and endorsed by, First Nations, Métis, Inuit and urban Indigenous partners and organizations in recognition of the need for meaningful, systemic change. This summer we signed a historic agreement with Grand Council Treaty #3 that marked the first time any government in this country has begun negotiations to acknowledge the rightful jurisdiction of child and family well-being services to a community. We also signed a historic relationship agreement to support this work with the Anishinabek Nation-Union of Ontario Indians.

We have responded to the high incidence of youth suicides and helped communities in crisis by establishing a dedicated Indigenous Youth and Wellness Secretariat to coordinate services. The Secretariat will work with Indigenous partners and communities to co-develop and co-implement an action plan that focuses on initiatives that support: safety, recovery, wellness, and improved coordination across governments and in communities to help First Nations move from crises to wellness.

Further, we have taken direct action to prevent Indigenous youth suicide in coordination with First Nations by:

  • Developing a robust safety strategy for First Nations students attending school in Thunder Bay including $10 million invested in student safety initiatives.
  • Funding 20 mental health counsellors for Pikangikum First Nation to help the community meet its immediate and long-term health crisis needs by providing over $3 million from 2017/18-2018/19.
  • Providing $10,000 in funding to Nibinamik First Nation for a youth retreat and $50,000 to support the community’s youth council.
  • Providing over $1.5 million in funding for crisis response supports, treatment services, programming, sports equipment, and community infrastructure needs in Wapekeka First Nation.
  • Providing additional crisis funding of $1.2 million for a total of $5 million to support crisis in the north through the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness strategy. A total of $25.7 million is invested annually to support mental health and other wellness services in northern communities.
  • Providing over $1.8 million in funding from 2016/17-2018/19 to increase the capacity of Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre’s Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services Unit to improve its ability to provide high quality and timely access to mental health supports for northern First Nations youth.

The Ontario Liberals are working in partnership with Indigenous peoples to strengthen health care, child care and education. Our plan:

  • Supports Indigenous children and youth wellness through coordinated services
  • Invests more than $80 million over four years to expand mental health care for Indigenous children and youth at risk
  • Provides $40 million over three years to support culturally relevant child care programs on-reserve and $290 million to double the number of child care spaces on reserve.
  • Provides $70 million over two years for off-reserve projects for Indigenous children and families
  • Improves access to health care, including primary care, mental health and addiction care and palliative care, through an investment of more than $220 million over three years
  • Supports an expanded and stronger role for Indigenous Institutes

5. Question on Water For Life Not Profit:

In the Guelph/Guelph Eramosa Tier 3 Report of 2017; our water has been designated ‘at significant risk’. Understanding this our community needs to take to heart this precautionary principle.

Where do you stand on the continued consumption pumping that sends water wastefully out of our watershed? Where do you stand on phasing out the bottling of our groundwater over the next 10 years? Where do you stand on giving permits to companies for private profit over communities that need the same water for future growth and generations?

The Ontario Liberal Party is committed to ensuring that both water quality and supply in Ontario are strongly protected. Ontario has among the strongest water-taking protections in Canada.
Our government, through our source water protection program, worked with partners to launch and support the Tier Three Water Budget.

Recently, we’ve enacted a moratorium on any new water bottling facilities, in addition to raising the fees for water taking, creating new rules for existing facilities, and undertaking a review of groundwater.
This groundwater review is under way and will look at the question of priority of use. Public water supply should be considered the first priority.

More information regarding our plan to further protect our groundwater resources will be included in the Ontario Liberal Election Platform.

6. Question on Pharmacare:

The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) supports a provincial pharmacare program covering all medically necessary drugs without means testing, user fees or copayments for Ontarians of all ages.

Do you agree with RNAO?

Ontario Liberals have led the largest expansion in medicare in a generation – expanding it first to children and youth under the age of 25, and, in 2019, it will be expanded to seniors as well.  We’re moving closer to the goal of pharmacare for everyone in Ontario. Thanks to our leadership, 4 million young people and their families are now able to afford the medications they need to be healthy.

OHIP+ is giving young people access to more than 4,400 medications reimbursed under the Ontario Drug Benefit Program, including medications listed under the Exceptional Access Program, at no cost.

Should Budget 2018 pass, as of August 1, 2019 OHIP+ will be available free of charge to everyone 65 and over, with no co-payment and no deductible. This expansion will make life more affordable for 2.6 million seniors and their families and will mean that prescription drugs are free for nearly one in two Ontarians.

7. Question on Housing:

The costs of housing in Ontario has spiraled out of control. For those working and young people it is very hard to imagine how they will afford their own home. Lost in all this is those who will likely never be able to afford their own home.

What will you do to improve social housing in Guelph?

The Ontario Liberal Party knows that young people are worried that they won’t be able to afford their own apartment or be able to purchase a home. This is why we decided to take action and introduce the Fair Housing Plan to stabilize the market for home buyers and renters. Through the 16 measures introduced by the Liberal government, we’re making buying and renting a home more affordable and fairer.

Rent controls have also been expanded to protect people against sudden, dramatic rent increases that force them out of their homes.  Our progressive housing plan is working, prices are stabilizing and housing has become more affordable but we know that there is more work to be done.

Which is why we are also paving the way for more affordable housing by giving municipalities the ability to require that affordable units are created in new residential developments.

Inclusionary zoning is a planning tool that allows municipalities to require developers to include affordable housing units in residential developments. The province has worked with municipalities, housing advocates, and developers to create regulations that give municipalities the flexibility they need to maximize the benefit of this new tool.

Under the new regulations, municipalities will be able to mandate that affordable units for low- and middle-income families are included in new housing developments to create mixed-income communities.