Towards a Healthy Future
Op-Ed piece by Ontario Liberal candidate in the riding of Thornhill, Bernie M. Farber
Even though the provincial election is over two months away, I have been busy speaking with a wide array of constituents where I live in Thornhill. What I have been reminded of is that among many concerns, one major issue stands out: Health care. Nothing is more important, more personal than your health and the health of your loved ones.
We all remember the days of Hudak/Harris Conservatives. Hospital closures, nursing layoffs, increased wait times in emergency rooms. We even wondered if our water was safe to drink. Our health was at risk.
I personally experienced these risks when in 2001, my sister-in-law, suffering from breast cancer, found herself caught in the mire of Conservative hospital closures, nursing lay-offs and other cuts specifically to the cancer care sector. Joanne passed away in 2003. Had she been diagnosed today, with all the newly-funded resources in Ontario cancer care, with hospitals back up and running, with over 11,500 full time nurses now hired or re-hired, her chances of survival would have increased dramatically. Indeed today, thanks to these health care investments, our province, according to the Cancer Quality Council of Ontario, is one of the best places in the world to be treated for the disease.
With a Liberal government our health care system has been brought back to what it formerly was and is even growing. Eighteen brand new hospitals have been built or are about to be completed. The same goes for 100 major hospital renovation and expansion projects. The McGuinty government has also invested in opening and supporting community health centres. If there are more locations for patients, there will be less overcrowding of hospital ERs, which is something that everyone would like to happen.
But, when we think of threats to our health, perhaps the biggest one is the burning of dirty coal. The McGuinty government has recognized this threat and has made significant investments in clean energy like solar and wind power. Because of this, 20,000 jobs have been created. Thornhill has more solar rooftops than any other community in Ontario. We are also on track to closing all coal fired plants by 2014; the equivalent to taking 7 million cars off the road. This is the single largest climate change initiative in North America. Coal creates smog and smog causes 5000 premature deaths every year in Ontario. Our efforts have cut smog days in half. Not only is it good economic policy, it’s good health policy as well.
Contrast that with the Tim Hudak Conservative agenda. They want to scrap the investments we’ve made to clean our air and keep the lights on. This is where the Liberal party stands apart. Like most people, we understand that preventing something is better than treating it. The McGuinty government has taken tremendous steps towards building a clean, modern and reliable system that includes clean sources of power. Creating our clean energy economy means more jobs for Ontarians, fewer cases of respiratory illness,.
In the end, we can all relate to the need for quality of life. However what differentiates Liberal policy from others is that we see and want quality of life for ourselves and for our children. Investing today in clean air and sound health is our safety net for the future.
Bernie M. Farber is the Ontario Liberal candidate in the riding of Thornhill.