To-do list long: Gelinas
Column: NDP will hold Ford government to account, Nickel Belt MPP says
Wow, what a year 2018 has been in Ontario politics. We have accomplished a lot in Nickel Belt during that period of time. I am sincerely hoping that we keep moving ahead and do not start to go backward in the coming year.
Many people have identified dangerous sections on our highways and roads and we have already made some of them safer. It took the threat of a protest, but we have brand new stoplights in Dowling, allowing pedestrians to cross the highway safely to go to school, the community centre or the library. We also have streetlights on Highway 144 at the Gogama turn off. This intersection is now a whole lot more visible and safer. These are important accomplishments, but this work is not done. I still have a long to-do list to address road safety in our communities.
Many of you have shared stories of overcrowding and hallway medicine at Health Sciences North. You have talked to me about the measures our hospital has had to take to bring forward a balanced budget when their expenses keep going up, but their revenue doesn’t.
So when Health Sciences North announced they were scaling back one of the services provided at its Breast Screening Assessment Clinic, there was a huge coming together of women’s health advocates. Women and their allies are making their voices heard and standing up for their services with letters, petitions, demonstrations and news stories. It’s an honour to bring these voices to Queen’s Park and call for proper funding of our hospital.
Many residents are still very angry as they continue to pay the bill for the Liberal government’s sell-off of Hydro One. To make matters worse, the Conservative government ended a green energy program that helped people retrofit their homes to be more energy efficient by doing things like upgrading their windows. This left a large number of my constituents paying the bills or losing their deposits because of the government’s arbitrary deadline.
People frequently ask me what I foresee in the upcoming year. The short answer is a lot of hard work. The NDP will keep standing up to Doug Ford’s Conservatives as they try to take Ontario backwards, and will instead advocate for progress. There are also several issues I will continue to work on for my constituents in the Nickel Belt.
Last summer, I received numerous complaints about dangerous construction in the west end of Nickel Belt on Highway 17. There were no signs telling drivers to slow down, and lots of dust and gravel flying everywhere. We have been pushing the Ministry of Transportation to compensate the people whose vehicles sustained damage. The ministry keeps pointing to the contractor, who points back to the ministry, and nothing gets solved. This is wrong and we won’t stop until someone takes responsibility for the damage caused by those dangerous highway conditions.
Some of you will remember Dean and Erla Wenborne. They received a $12,000 bill for an air ambulance transfer from one hospital to another for life-saving emergency medical care while travelling in Nova Scotia. The inter-provincial agreement on Medicare was written before air ambulances existed. We will work hard to add this issue to the agenda for the health ministers’ meeting next summer. It’s important that Canadians continue to be covered by Medicare, no matter which province they happen to be visiting.
Our long-awaited position emission tomography (PET) scanner, a diagnostic tool used to do things like identify certain cancers, should open sometime this spring (I will believe it when I see it.) I have been working on this since Sam Bruno, who we lost to colorectal cancer, came to talk to me in the summer of 2008.
Last June, Ontarians elected the NDP as the Official Opposition. I am very thankful to all of you who put their faith in me with an ‘X’ next to my name. It has been an honour to serve you for the last 11 years and I look forward to continue serving you in the coming years. As always, if you live in the Nickel Belt, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 705969-3621 or fgeli[email protected]
Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas makes a point during a press conference in Sudbury, Ont. on Tuesday November 27, 2018. She is calling on the Ontario government to restore the French Language Commissioner and Universite de l'Ontario francais.