Ontario Election – Nik Spohr's Response to Our Questions

Article posted October 3, 2011

Nik Spohr is the NDP Candidate for Halton. This is his response to the questions CARP Halton Chapter sent to all Election Candidates in Halton Region. 

  1. Will you vote to fully fund a comprehensive home care strategy to allow everyone to stay in their own homes as long as possible? This includes funding and training more home care workers, substantive financial support for full time family caregivers, workplace protection and professional support from the health care system.  

Our official homecare policies are that: We will guarantee high-quality, accessible, home-care- the backbone of Ontario’s health care system- by eliminating the wait list for home care services; end for-profit competitive bidding in home care and invest public dollars in actual home care services; and provide the support that informal caregivers require to care for their loved ones at home. Bottom line- we want to ensure Ontarians are able to receive consistent quality home care in every community in the province.

  1. What will you do to increase affordable access to long term care ?

We will eliminate the waiting list for long-term care for those with complex medical needs; support minimum standards of care so that the health and well-being of seniors are protected; ensure our loved ones receive the right care in the right setting; and guarantee that precious long-term care dollars go towards front line services. We will build a truly accessible long-term care system that meets the needs of Ontario’s seniors. 

  1. Will you support a concerted effort to reduce the cost of prescription drugs including bulk purchasing, resisting attempts to extend patent protection and ensuring public coverage of drugs is transparent and cost effective. Will you support a national pharmacare policy to provide basic drug coverage for all Canadians?

This has always been a priority for the Federal New Democrats, and we ran on it in the previous Federal campaign. The Ontario New Democrats would support any initiative to provide for such a plan.

  1. Will you support increasing the income supplement [GAINS] for low income seniors, and extending support especially to those aged 60-64, mostly single, who do not receive the spousal allowance ?

While I haven’t been able to find anything on our official policy towards GAINS, this is our policy on pensions and retirement: We will implement a public, cost-efficient, defined benefit pension plan for all Ontarians without workplace plans; Support public options such as an expansion of the CPP; and ensure that all existing pensions are fully protected by the Ontario government. We want to ensure that all Ontarians have decent retirement income with secure pensions.

I personally agree with supporting and increase in GAINS for low income seniors, and I would also agree with extending the support to those not receiving spousal allowance. 

  1. What will you do to reduce or mitigate the escalating cost of living, such as HST on home heating, property taxes and electricity costs, for lower, fixed income Ontarians, especially seniors.  

Our entire platform is geared towards affordability, and that’s why we want to take the HST off of home heating and other essentials. We will work to re-negotiate the HST to do so, with Stephen Harper. If he does not help us in taking away the burden of this regressive tax, we will scrap it when the penalty period for cancellation ends in 2015.

We also recently released our general housing and anti-poverty strategy, which I will post here- some of this may be useful to know for your members:

The New Democrat plan for poverty reduction and affordable housing provides targeted measures – aimed at giving a break to segments of the population that need it, and have been forgotten by the current government.

The New Democrat Plan includes:

  • Housing Benefit:We will make housing more affordable by implementing a new housing benefit for low-income tenants who pay unaffordable rents. The benefit will go to nearly 200,000 Ontarians.
  • New Affordable Housing:We will fund and build more than 50,000 new affordable housing units for Ontario over the next 10 years, including over 14,000 in the next 4 years.
  • Low-income adult emergency dental care program:We will create an emergency care dental program for unemployed and working poor adults. The program will serve 50,000 adults each year at a cost of $12.5 million, using unspent funds from the government’s 2008 Healthy Smiles Ontario.

Previously announced commitments:

  • We will increase the minimum wage to $11/hour and indexing it to the cost of living.
  • We will follow through with the recommendations of the Commission for the Review on Social Assistance.
  • We will increase OW and ODSP rates to keep up with inflation.
  • We will increase the Work-Related Benefit for all ODSP recipients with employment earnings and end the clawback on the first $300 a month of earnings for ODSP recipients who take a job.
  • We will freeze child care fees and keep spaces open.