Video Address: Mental Health in Ontario and the Role of Communities

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the mental health and addiction system in Ontario. Mental illnesses and addictions cost our province billions of dollars a year in lost productivity. 1 in 5 Ontarians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, but 2/3 do not receive the services they need.

We can do better. We must acknowledge the importance of an all encompassing solution. Mental health and addiction is not just a health care issue. It’s deeply connected to social and economic problems. Citizens with mental illness are often denied housing, have trouble finding jobs, miss out on educational opportunities, and can find themselves falling through the cracks of the justice system.

We need to empower people to take control of their lives through services provided within the community and to get back what they’ve lost in terms of jobs, education, housing and respect.

The Green Party would invest $1.6B over 4 years in family and community care clinics that integrate doctors with nurses, dieticians, psychologists, counselors and others.

We would reform the Local Health Integration Networks, which were supposed to promote community-based health care decision making, but aren’t working. Too many decisions are still being made behind closed doors.

A clear example is the way in which the new Methadone Clinic on Strickland Avenue in Parkdale was opened this summer. We know our residents work hard to help those in need. Parkdale has one of the highest densities of social programs, community health clinics, rooming houses, and food banks of any neighborhood in Toronto. The problem was the process that led to the opening of the clinic.

The Green Party, with its emphasis on smaller central government, would ensure local communities had input and oversight on these kinds of health care decisions. Residents know best.

These issues have touched me personally. In my capacity as a community leader I’ve established a national initiative called Secular Organizations for Sobriety, a recovery program for alcoholics and others suffering from addictions which has proven successful for many individuals who were not able to find help elsewhere. This is just one example of finding a community solution to an unmet need.

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TONIGHT! Meet your Green Party Candidate Justin Trottier and the Campaign Team

Justin Trottier cordially invites you to join him and his campaign team – with special musical guest Brian MacMillan – at this meet and greet campaign kick off event!

Where: Runnymede Toronto Public Library

When: Monday, August 29, 2011, 6:00 – 9:00 pm

Featuring food and drink. Plus musical guest and local resident Brian MacMillan!

Brian MacMillan: picked up a guitar when he was sixteen and hasn’t put it down since. A prolific songwriter. A warmth and presence on stage that makes you laugh, listen, and sing along. A voice rich, bold, and true. Lyrics that imprint your busy brain and have you singing them for days. An artist who generously invites you inside his music. Brian MacMillan is the breath of fresh air that music has been waiting for.

The music he plays and how he plays it: You can call it pop, folk, folk-pop. You can throw a splash of reggae in there if you want. His songs are anthems and ballads. You can say he’s a singer-songwriter, or multi-instrumentalist. He writes the songs, plays the guitar, bass, drums, keys, sings lead vocals and harmonies. He leads a band like a true gentleman, and can warm up a room in seconds.

Things he’s done: Produced and recorded: three original albums. Received: 2 OAC grants. Won: the Colleen Peterson Songwriting award. Shared stages with: Great Big Sea, New Odds, Barenaked Ladies, Spirit of the West. Gave his magic touch to albums by: Kevin Hearn and Thinbuckle, Wailin’ Jennys, Elizabeth Sheppard, Garth Hudson, Barenaked Ladies, Layah Jane, Jory Nash, Lori Cullen, Eden Hertzog, Nine Mile, Mr. Something Something. Played on a ship with: The Barenaked Ladies, three years in a row. Rocked these festivals: Shelter Valley, Mariposa, Home County, Blue Skies, Eaglewood. Created music programs for: Where are the Mothers (art project pairing musicians with women living in the Toronto shelter system) and CICO (Community In Community Out is an alternative school). Is now: A fixture in John McDermott’s touring band. Mentored Youth: At the OCFF conference. Was featured in: John Kong’s Do Right Records Required Listening compilation. Is sponsored by: Stonebridge guitars and New Moon Kitchen. Had this cookie named after him: The Mackie.

But enough talking. Just turn the radio up and listen to Brian. That’s what this is about anyway.

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Tim Hudak’s simple minded energy policy won’t fool voters

TVO’s The Agenda episode “Achim Steiner: Ontario and the Green Economy”

PC Leader Tim Hudak: “Energy politics is about economics and stop treating it like a social program. Quite frankly, we cannot continue to pursue green energy policies that unnecessarily drive up the cost for consumers and have punitive impacts on our broader economy.”

Someone just doesn’t get it, but, as UN Environment Programme leader Achim Seiner put it, voters are smarter than that. Subsidies are pervasive in all sectors of the energy economy. The world subsidizes $700B/yr for fossil fuels, whereas countries that have invested in infrastructure for renewables have seen their costs drop dramatically. For example, photovoltaics have come down 50% in cost last year and are predicted to come down another 50%.

Again, as Seiner eloquently describes, coal might appear cheaper, but once you factor in the added health care costs associated with pollution as well as the direction the world is going in in which emissions will be penalized in the global economy, the cost of continuing on our current course is far higher than Hudak might imagine.

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Video Address: Why choose between the environment and the economy: Carbon Tax and Income Tax Reduction

Justin Trottier explains that only the Green Party of Ontario has a realistic and sustainable plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by implementing a carbon tax coupled with an income tax reduction.

The transcript of his remarks are below:

Climate change is real. In June, as the legislature wound down before the election campaign, Ontario’s environmental commissioner Gord Miller bravely asserted the need for carbon tax to meet Ontario’s climate change goals.

Our current political parties distanced themselves as quickly as possible from any real action.

Premier Dalton McGuinty announced he would neither raise nor introduce “any new taxes, including … a carbon tax.” Ontario’s NDP Party pledged to reduce taxes on polluting energy sources like gasoline. Meanwhile, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak proudly declared “One thing we will not do — a Tim Hudak government will never do — is implement a carbon tax in any shape or form.”

Only the Green Party of Ontario has a realistic and sustainable plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by implementing a carbon tax coupled with an income tax reduction. How does a carbon tax work? Simple. Taxes are raised on all carbon emitting fuels. This means higher taxes on such combustibles like gasoline and coal. By raising the prices of all carbon emitting products, we create an incentive for people to reduce.

This would be a revenue-neutral tax, a concept that has been working well in British Columbia, as well as many other countries around the world.

This Green Party policy known as green tax shifting would balance new taxes on resources like energy with a reduction on income and corporate taxes. In this way, the Green philosophy focuses less on redistributing earned income and instead on having people contribute to society by paying more for the shared resources they take from the common pool to use in creating their products and services.

The NDP opposes carbon taxes and are even proposing to reduce taxes on gasoline, effectively subsidizing gas-guzzling vehicles instead of working to reduce emissions. We can do better.

Despite criticisms of the BC plan, “The carbon tax has been good for the environment, good for taxpayers and it hasn’t hurt the economy,” says Stewart Elgie, a professor of law and economics at the University of Ottawa.

Since 2008 when BC introduced the revenue neutral carbon tax plan, fuel consumption per capita in the province is down by 4.5%. While residents of British Columbia are using less fuel than elsewhere in Canada, they are also paying lower income taxes.

We do need to decide between the environment and the economy, nor do these policies when implemented hurt poorer people. Dale Marshall, a climate change policy analyst for the David Suzuki Foundation, explained that potential effects on poorer people can be easily offset. His advice? “create energy-efficiency programs that target low-income households. Invest in making their energy bills go down because they need less energy not because energy costs less. Second, make tax policies more progressive overall by ensuring that low-income households pay less in taxes.”

This is exactly the Green Party plan. We would lower income tax by increasing the personal tax exemption by $2000 which helps the poorest most. Secondly, to offset the increased energy costs, we would invest $100 million per year in refundable tax credits for seniors, low income residents and individuals living in rural areas to help individuals and businesses become more energy efficient.

While we’re on the topic, Dale Marshall also points out that despite its environmental rhetoric, it isn’t clear if the Ontario NDP’s would keep the highly successful Feed in tariff program of the Green Energy Act which has created thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in investment in Ontario, and is a major roadmap towards renewable energy.

NDP governments throughout Canada have never really delivered on their lofty environmental promises. However, Green parties around the world have been the most effective force for real, substantial and practical environmental and economic progress.

It’s all about a vision for the future of Ontario, and its the direction the world is going on, especially in Europe. Paul Ekins, director of Britain’s Green Fiscal Commission: “Levying a carbon tax provides a broad incentive to reduce emissions and create all kinds of green technology.”

Reducing tax on gasoline and electricity is an easy way to win votes. But don’t be fooled. Such a scheme is neither sustainable nor cost effective. Only the Green Paty of Ontario has a realistic and carefully thought out plan to move Ontario in the right direction, a plan beyond the usual left right political ideologies.

That’s why, it’s time for Green

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Goderich to receive $5M in disaster relief

August 23, 2011 –

Goderich to receive $5M in disaster relief

Glad relief was quickly mobilized by the appropriate authorities and if there is any silver lining here, it’s in all the good will and offers of help that this disaster has sparked

Shewfelt and town administrator Larry McCabe said there is no shortage of offers of help and as many as 400 emergency workers can be accommodated. Shewfelt said volunteers from a Muslim group to 100 home-builders in Stratford, Ont., have stepped forward.

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Jack Layton: An inspiration to all Canadians seeking to improve our country

Cancer claims NDP leader Layton
An amazing man, a great leader, and even at the very end an inspiration to all of us to struggle with our challenges and to contribute to politics or other worthy endeavours to make our country a better place

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

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Eglinton LRT a good opportunity for planned bike route

August 19, 2011 – The Grid – Can the LRT save Eglinton East?

Liberal MPP Mike Colle hopes imminent transit construction will also spur the redevelopment of ugly, pedestrian-unfriendly stretches into high-density, mixed-use neighbourhoods.

That sounds pretty good. Now let’s hope there’s well thought out planning that goes into that re-design, now that we have the opportunity. Since Eglinton is so wide, let’s hope they include bike lanes along the LRT route. They’re apparently considering it but it hasn’t been confirmed.

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