By MPP Bobbi Ann Brady
I hope you are settling into 2023 and had a wonderful Christmas season. Last week I reflected on the first few months as your representative at Queen’s Park, and as promised, this week’s column will wrap up 2022.
Independence gives me the freedom to vote based on what Haldimand-Norfolk tells me. The more time I’ve spent at Queen’s Park, the more I’ve appreciated being an Independent. Here are a few examples from 2022 where I exercised this independence on your behalf.
I voted against Bill 7 – More Beds, Better Care Act, 2022, because it lacked specifics. I agree ALC (alternative level of care) beds have long plagued our province’s hospitals – there are nearly 6,000 patients in Ontario ALC beds. These are beds occupied by a patient that no longer requires the intensity of care provided in that setting. At the beginning of 2022, about 3,500 people in the Haldimand-Norfolk catchment area were waiting to get into a long-term care home. Bill 7 gave the government the ability to move them out. I questioned where and how far these patients would be moved, to which there was no answer.
Just a few weeks ago, the Minister of Health admitted the bill’s benefits still need to be realized.
Conversely, I spoke out against Bill 28 — the Keeping Students in Class Act, 2022, which made any walkouts by the education workers who are CUPE members illegal. I called for all sides to negotiate something fair for frontline education, support workers, and our students. Four days after enacting Bill 28, the bill was repealed, and negotiations continued. The repeal was in exchange for keeping students in class. My vote reflected what I’d heard from parents, taxpayers, students, and those on picket lines.
Regarding Bill 23, the Build More Homes Faster Act, almost all who contacted my office were resoundingly against it. I voted against it. The goal of this legislation was to build 1.5 million homes in 10 years; however, the bill also removes power from conservation authorities, imposes quotas for home construction on municipalities, amends the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System, and removes areas from the Greenbelt.
At the beginning of December, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk released her annual report. She is critical in holding provincial public and broader public sector organizations accountable for financial responsibility, well-managed programs, and transparency.
I won’t reiterate what I’ve already publicly said about her report, but I’ll present a snapshot of her findings. Her findings were sobering. The report highlighted high auto insurance premiums, low investment in combatting invasive species, and even pervasive money laundering in Ontario casinos.
On the COVID file, Lysyk’s report documented how Ontario wasted 38 per cent of vaccine doses between February and June because it overestimated demand for boosters. While physicians were paid $13 to administer COVID-19 vaccinations in their offices, those in clinics earned $170 to $220 per hour compared. Nurses were paid $32 to $49 per hour, and pharmacists $30 to $57 per hour.
Ms. Lysyk’s slap-on-the-wrist report was a great way to enter 2023, as it may give all members a renewed focus on what’s necessary to improve government management.
I love being your independent voice at Queen’s Park. Being able to vote according to your wishes is a pleasure and a privilege. Thank you.
I look forward to working with you throughout 2023.
Bobbi Ann Brady is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk