From the Park – Tactiques de pression électorale

The other day I was having a zoom-coffee with an old friend of mine, catching up on what’s been happening in our lives.  At one point we were talking about pressure tactics that some fly-by-night companies and scammers use to hook people into purchasing a product or service on the spot.  Many of us have heard lines, for example, perhaps from let’s say paving companies who will recoat or even pave your driveway “today only” at a price no one else can touch because the company is just down the street already and they have an abundance of product to offer at a discount.  Then they tell you that you have to act fast because the workers are just down the street finishing a job this afternoon.

Your parents probably taught you that if something sounds too good to be true….it probably isn’t true.  Such companies are counting on you acting fast and not taking the time to read the fine print or compare prices.  For example, maybe they don’t prepare the subsurface with gravel or remove stones that could heave in the frost.  The contract may not specify how thick the pavement they lay will be.  There may be no guarantee that the surface will repel dripping oil or gas like some products do.  You get the drift.

I hate to say it, but in the world of politics can sometimes demonstrate such pressure tactics.  For example, a political party may withhold aspects or details or parts of their platform or only provide the glossy basics to the public.  The idea is to bombard voters with a ton of information in late days during an election so they don’t have time to really consider and compare plans or programs thoroughly.

It is for this reason that New Democrats have started launching our proposed plans and programs now.  The next election is not scheduled until the spring of 2022.  But by launching now, Ontarians can look over the proposals at their own speed and consider them through a real-time lens.  They can look around and see first hand what is going on at their door step today  and consider how effective NDP plans would be in real situations – not under an election pressure cooker.

Recently Andrea Horwath presented Ontarians with our Aging Ontarians Deserve the Best platform.  It is a comprehensive plan with detailed blueprints that will transition Ontario from a fragmented, privatized and poorly regulated system to a well-regulated and well-staffed public and not-for-profit system.  This was a topic of recent columns.  It’s a plan that explains how we can overhaul of home care and long-term care under an entirely new model that is built on small, family-like homes rather than institution-like facilities.  I hope you will take the time to truly consider the Aging Ontarians Deserve the Best program at your leisure.

Just days ago, Andrea launched a second plan for Ontarians to consider that raises what New Democrats have long believed is a human right – access to safe, affordable housing.  We believe that young people should be able to get a safe, affordable place of their own when they’re ready.  We believe that folks should be able to rent without the constant threat of eviction or bank-breaking rent hikes.  That buying a home should not be out of reach for hardworking families. We believe that families should be able to afford a good home, in the community they love.  And we say that no one ever should find themselves without shelter and without housing options that fit their needs and abilities.

Finding a good home you can afford has been getting harder and harder for families for decades, especially for people looking for multi-generation homes, or homes with a built-in rental for extra income.  No one should have to squeeze their growing or multi-generational family into a home that is cramped or crumbling because of skyrocketing housing prices, but that is a reality for a lot of people in Northern Ontario.

Helping people create basement units and granny flats will mean more homes people can afford for renters, and that’s on top of the 69,000 new affordable homes the NDP is proposing to build.  The Homes You Can Afford program will better protect tenants from poor living conditions, and help 311,000 households pay their rent.

Under the NDP Homes in Ontario Program, first-time home buyers with household incomes under $200,000 would be able to access home equity loans of up to 10 per cent to help with their down payment.  Home owners would then have the flexibility to buy back the government’s share or repay the loan only if and when they move and sell their home.

We will create a revenue-neutral fund to finance repayable loans as a part of the Homes in Ontario Program.  That fund will be self-sustaining.  Gains in the fund over time will be used to maintain the fund.

Implementing the entire Homes You Can Afford plan will take a capital investment of $90 million to extend the life of 260,000 affordable homes and an average annual investment of $340 million for 10 years to build 69,000 new affordable homes.

The NDP Homes You Can Afford plan includes a commitment to mandating universal design principles for building codes, ensuring that newly built homes are “visitable” and adaptable.  Not only would this mean expanded options for people with disabilities looking to rent or buy, it means that more seniors can stay in their own homes for longer.

Whether you have lived in your neighbourhood for generations, or are newly putting down roots in the province, a government can improve peoples’ lives by helping families afford homes that can be cherished by their parents, grandparents, and children.  New Democrats will ensure today’s Ontarians have the same opportunities many of our parents and grandparents did, including a chance to plant roots for your family, and watch them grow.

The people of Algoma-Manitoulin have always been there for one another to help each other out, day in and day out.  If you are like most Ontarians you are likely finding yourself at home more than usual because of COVID-19.  It’s a perfect time to look at what is going on through a reality lens in real-time and consider how much better life can be if we put our minds and energies toward making life better for all of us together.

As always, please feel free to contact my office about these issues, or any other provincial matters.

Mike Mantha