Do you want to know where the local candidates stand on four issues that many Ontarians consider critical in this election?
We asked the four main candidates in the Barrie riding to give us their position on health care, the environment, education and employment.
Their responses are printed here and can also be found at our election website at www.provincialcoverage.com.
For the views of the other candidates in the Barrie riding, you can contact Paulo Fabrizio of the Libertarians at 719-2921; Roberto Sales of the Family Coalition at (905) 748-0103; Independent candidates Dan Predie at 733-8380 and Darren Roskam at 734-3636.

Health care
Aileen Carroll for the Liberal Party
• RVH has been given more than $10 million in new funding by the Provincial Liberal Government through the Wait Time reduction plan, which will provide over 22,000 additional procedures in five key areas.
• RVH has also received close to $3 million for a new replacement MRI that performs almost 3,000 more scans per year.
• RVH now serves as a model in the Province for lowering wait times – from 2006 to 2007 there have been significant reductions of up to 67 per cent for some procedures.
• The Liberals have also invested $4.2 million for Canada’s first-ever radiation unit in Barrie to begin training staff for the new cancer centre.
• Aileen’s advocacy resulted in the designation of RVH as the site of the regional Cancer Care Centre.
• RVH will be further expanded, with 101 additional inpatient beds and more than $30 million in additional funding from the Provincial Liberals.
• The Liberals have created a network of three Family Health teams giving coverage to 17,000 Barrie-area residents who previously had no family doctor.
• The Liberals have also made significant new investments in home care, long-term care, provided funding for Hospice Simcoe and added more nursing positions at RVH.

Larry Taylor for the New Democratic Party
• The New Democratic Party was responsible for the creation of Canada’s Medicare system and will fight attempts to dismantle it.
• The Ontario Medical Association says that air pollution kills over 5,900 people per year in Ontario and costs our economy $7.8 billion per year in health care costs and lost work. We would instigate measures to significantly reduce emissions and enforce far more stringent standards.
• The NDP would fight vehemently to block attempts by other governments to establish two-tier medicine.
• Our party would invest public money into public and not-for-profit hospitals and clinics.
•We’d restore OHIP benefits for eye care, chiropractic care, and physiotherapy cut by the McGuinty Liberals. We have children and adults who cannot go to an eye doctor when they need to, and that’s disgraceful.
• We’d reduce Emergency Room wait times by investing more money and establishing benchmark standards.
• We’d create more Community Health Centres that teach prevention and health promotion. We have a model here in Barrie already, with plans for expansion.
• We’d establish a dental plan for persons with moderate incomes who don’t have private coverage. Dental health is a primary health issue.
• We’d improve long-term care by establishing minimum service levels for patients. Standards of care were established under the NDP government in the early 1990s and Mike Harris eliminated the standards that the Liberals have failed to restore.
• Larry will work to ensure that Barrie receives its fair share of health-care service money, including funds for children’s mental health. Services in Barrie have not kept pace with Barrie’s growth.
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins for the Green Party
• For the Green Party health is not just about health care. The Green Party will put emphasis on healthy communities, healthy lifestyles and a healthy environment, not just health care.
•The Greens will work to reduce toxins in the environment, eliminate poverty and encourage health lifestyle choices. Reform of the current system is urgently needed if we want a system that’s sustainable and affordable.
• Our plan offers more choice and emphasizes prevention. We’ll introduce a new Healthcare Allowance of $1,000 per person per year for prescription drugs or care from any regulated health professional, including dentist, chiropractors, physiotherapists, naturopaths, audiologists, chiropodists or opticians.
• We’ll increase the Ministry of Health Promotion, which currently receives less than two percent of the Ministry of Health & Long Term Care’s budget.
• We’ll give greater support to multidisciplinary clinics that team doctors with nurses, dieticians, psychologists, counsellors and others. This will support a holistic approach to mental health, addiction and lifestyle counselling.
• We’ll expand the mandate of Community Care Access Centres to include monitoring, support and funding of informal caregivers, compensated at minimum wage, who provide assisted daily living in the home. This will help seniors to stay in their homes longer and enable family and friends to provide basic, compassionate care for loved ones, and will double the number of informal home-care hours.
• We’ll provide fully refundable tuition for graduating family doctors who commit to working a year in under-serviced areas like Barrie for every year of free tuition.

Joe Tascona for the Progressive Conservative Party
• I served on the doctor recruitment task force which this year attracted four new family doctors to Barrie. We need more doctors by increasing medical school enrolment, retaining doctors, attracting foreign-trained doctors and setting up nurse-led clinics.
• More work needs to be done and I’ve secured John Tory’s commitment to a Phase II expansion of RVH, which will add 200 beds and new services to RVH.
•A Progressive Conservative government will work to keep the doctors we have and attract new doctors to Ontario.
• We will expand the capacity of our medical schools and defer loan payments for medical graduates during residency, offer flexible alternative to retirement and develop a better system for recognizing the credential of qualified foreign-trained doctors.
• We’ll help the doctors we have to spend more time with patients by reducing the burden of paperwork through electronic health records.
• The Liberals are denying people access to the value that privately-owned facilities can add within the public health care system. Unfortunately, the promise of universal health care doesn’t mean much if you can’t get the care you need.
• The Progressive Conservatives understand that Ontario’s nurses shoulder much of the burden of running our health-care system. That’s why we want to improve patient care by recruiting more full-time nurses to our hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices.
• Seniors need access to a long-term bed when they’re medically not able to care for themselves. Joe worked hard to bring over 900 new and redeveloped long-term beds to Barrie to improve living standards for seniors.
• We’ll take action to improve living standards by initiating a capital renewal of the 35,000 lower-standard long-term care spaces to the highest ‘A’ standard.
• We’ll work with the Ontario Medical Association to ensure more physicians work in long-term care homes.
• We’ll explore innovative new models of care including the piloting of seven nurse-led clinics to provide support to Ontarians with chronic disease.
• We’ll improve access to services and decrease wait times. We’ll work with both public and private-sector partners to deliver the best quality of care.

Environment
Aileen Carroll for the Liberal Party

• Ontarians need to know that the water they drink is safe. That’s why the Liberal government passed the Clean Water Act, which both the Conservatives and NDP voted against. It’s why the Liberals have implemented every single recommendation of the Walkerton Inquiry.
• The Liberals are taking action in Barrie with The Lake Simcoe Protection Act that would protect the health of our lake so families can continue to enjoy it for years to come.
• The Lake Simcoe Protection Act would build on the good science and planning work already done by the province, municipalities, conservation authority and community groups to raise the bar for sewage treatment standards and set strict limits on pollutants like phosphorous.
• The Liberals also want to ensure that the air we breathe is clean. We’re the only party committed to eliminating all coal generation in Ontario, and we’re already one-third of the way there. In fact, emissions are now below 1990 levels.
 
• The Liberals are protecting our green space so we can enjoy the parks and trails, and so that local farmland is protected. We’ve protected the 1.8-milllion acre Greenbelt, an area bigger than P.E.I. All of these initiatives, combined with the Liberal’s You Spill, You Pay legislation that Conservatives voted against, are protecting our environment and helping to keep Ontario green.
• The Liberal government has also announced Move Ontario 2020, a 12-year building plan to deliver 52 rapid transit initiatives, including the extension of the GO Train to Barrie. Building a modern rapid transit system that moves people and goods quickly and efficiently will ensure we can attract and keep thousands of good high-paying jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.
• The Liberals will leverage green initiatives to turn them into the next generation of jobs. That’s why we have a Next Generation Jobs fund to partner with businesses that create green jobs. We also have a Climate Change Action Plan to help every Ontarian make a difference.

Larry Taylor for the New Democratic Party

• We’ll protect the health of our children and families by establishing a Right-to-Know law that ensures families know what toxins and other environmental hazards are in our food, air, ground, and water.
• We’ll fast-track public transit expansion, including new investments in light rail and GO Transit to get people and goods moving efficiently.
• We’ll continue to work closely with the C.A.R.E. group in Barrie to stop the Northern Ethanol plant construction at the former Molson site. We discovered through Elections Canada that Northern Ethanol was a contributor to the Conservative Party war chest in 2006. We won’t know until after the election how much this company contributed to the Conservative Party in 2007.
• I’ll continue to meet frequently with Living Green Barrie to ensure that group supports the environmental goals of the NDP platform.
• We’ll fight for and commit Ontario to meeting its Kyoto targets by 2012 and 2020.
• We’ll set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by no less than six per cent below the 1990 level by 2012, and 25 per cent below that level by 2020.
• We’ll make Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner a tough effective climate change watchdog who holds accountable any government that fails to meet Kyoto targets.
• We’ll begin a phase-out of coal plants (Nanticoke, Lambton, Thunder Bay and Atikokan) by 2014. Following the models in Germany and Denmark, the Thunder Bay and Atikokan coal-fired generating stations would be kept on stand-by and operated solely as insurance in the event of emergency requirements.

Erich Jacoby-Hawkins for the Green Party

• The Green Party doesn’t treat the environment as a separate issue; instead, we strive to have every policy area protect or improve the environment while accomplishing other goals.
• Although we believe that better regulations or enforcement are required in some areas, our main approach is to consider ecology in all our decisions, so the economy and environment can prosper together.
• We’ll invest $16 billion over 15 years through loan guarantees, grants and tax credits for conservation and demand-management programs. This will allow us to phase out coal and avoid building nuclear, both of which will protect our health and environment.
 
• We’ll implement a total volume cap on water-taking permits to limit water-taking to an environmentally sustainable level.
• We’ll phase in a province-wide ban on the cosmetic application of synthetic pesticides. This will significantly reduce the level of toxins contaminating our soils and watersheds, protecting wildlife but also reducing cancer rates.
• We’ll invest $10 million over four years on an Organic Farming Transition Plan to assist farmers with the transition to organic production methods. This protects farmers, our soil, and our health as consumers.
• Require provincial food service venues to support the purchasing of local and sustainably-grown and processed foods, and create a four-year $40-million renovation fund to assist them to use more fresh products.
• It makes sense from the environmental, public health and economic viewpoint to buy local sustainable food. The Province needs to set the example by buying locally. John Tory recently ‘borrowed’ this idea for his own platform.
• We’ll extend loans to schools to finance the construction of renewable energy installations to save money and the environment.
• To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the new green economy, Ontario must invest our transportation dollars wisely, looking forward, not backward. • We’ll divert 75 per cent of all money budgeted for new highway construction to public transit and rail to create a world-class transportation system, relieve gridlock and eliminate the need for new highways.
 
• Ontario has a garbage problem and it is time to clean up. The most environmentally responsible and financially prudent solution is to reduce the amount of waste we produce.One step is to implement deposit-return for all containers by 2010.

Joe Tascona for the Progressive Conservative Party
• I sat on Barrie City Council from 1991-1995 and fought to ensure that the waterfront land situated around Southshore Community Centre be developed as parklands. CN was looking to build residential housing from the Southshore Centre to Minet’s Point Road and I led the way for Council to expropriate the property for public use.
• As MPP I secured $2 million from the province to enable Barrie to develop walking/bike trails around Kempenfelt Bay, included in the Barrie rail land purchase.
 • I protected our environment by stopping the building of a Waste Incinerator Plant in Innisfil during my second term of office. The plant was going to incinerate garbage shipped up from Toronto and the greater Toronto metro area.
• A John Tory-led Progressive Conservative government will demonstrate real leadership in implementing an integrated waste strategy in Ontario focused on increased diversion and new technologies to manage remaining waste better
• The Progressive Conservatives have an Eight-Point Plan for Lake Simcoe, which includes a $12-million investment to speed the clean up of Lake Simcoe. One of the greatest resources for the residents of Barrie is Lake Simcoe.
• I am for clean air and protecting our precious water supply. I am opposed to the proposed ethanol plant in Barrie, which will impact our property values, air quality and our water supply.
• I would be interested in putting forward a private member’s bill to encourage the use of solar panels on the roofs of companies and residences, to be partnered with local utility companies that would be encouraged to support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The energy generated by solar panels is fed back into the local electricity grid. In return, the companies and residences benefit from subsidies to buy electricity for their own energy needs.
Education
Aileen Carroll for the Liberal Party
• Aileen Carroll strongly supports the Liberal policy of public funding for our Catholic and Public schools, and she’s very proud of the significant progress we’ve made in our classrooms under the Liberals during the past four years.
• In the Barrie area alone, the Liberals have added 416 new teachers into the school system to reduce class sizes and raise student achievement. Working together, parents, students, teachers and the Liberals are getting publicly-funded schools on track again. Under the Liberals, no school days have been lost due to classroom teacher strikes. That compares to an incredible 26,000,000 student days lost under the Conservatives.
• There are several good reasons to be opposed to the Conservative plan to fund private religious schools with taxpayer dollars. It’s a cynical ploy to buy votes in certain religious and cultural communities, and it’s a very bad policy that John Tory has clearly not thought through.
• Quite apart from the resources that would be sucked out of our publicly-funded Catholic and Public schools, the John Tory proposal to fund private religious schools would segregate students by ethnicity, race and culture. Rather than reinforce multiculturalism in our Province, his proposal would undermine the ability of the public school system to integrate new cultures and reinforce social cohesion.
• Even more alarming, John Tory has been unable to explain his scheme. He says Creationism could be taught alongside the Theory of Evolution in apparent ignorance of the fact that the Ontario curriculum prohibits his idea.
• John Tory tries to justify the funding of private religious schools as a simple issue of fairness because Catholic schools are publicly funded. What he doesn’t say is that Catholic schools operate under the Ontario curriculum and are integrated schools that, in addition to admitting non-Catholics, are ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse.
• The Catholic schools are a publicly funded parallel system to the Public system. It’s guaranteed in our Constitution. In fact, it was one of the original terms of Confederation.

Larry Taylor for the New Democratic Party
• The NDP will not fund private or religious faith-based schools. It’s imperative all our resources be put into the continuation and strengthening of public education.
• We’ll fix the Funding Formula- elementary students currently receive $711 less per annum than secondary students in terms of the educational budget.
 
• We’ll provide more quality, non-profit day care places for children who need it.
• We’ll freeze post-secondary tuition, thus giving greater access to students who can’t always afford it.
• We’ll introduce the NDP Fair Deal for Students. Ontario graduates leaving post-secondary education owe an average debt of $22,589. Ability to pay should not determine whether or not students can pursue their studies. Fairness means that no one should be deprived of college, university or an apprenticeship because of lack of ability to pay.
• In 2005-2006, the average undergraduate tuition was $4,900. This year it’s estimated to climb to $5,360.
• Dalton McGuinty has failed to keep his promises to students. He said it was wrong to make students drown in debt and promised to freeze tuition costs, but then announced massive tuition hikes of up to 36 per cent.

Erich Jacoby-Hawkins for the Green Party
• The Green Party believes in a single publicly-funded education system that treats all students fairly and equally. We would follow the UN Human Rights Commission’s advice and move to one school system with English and French streams.
• This would save millions of tax dollars that can be reinvested in public education, allowing us to institute nutrition programs, make classes smaller and reinstate outdoor education and school nurses.
• We would also end standardized testing, which is unhelpful, expensive and wastes time – re-directing the budget of the EQAO could hire 800 more teachers.
• Studies show that education in the earliest years is most critical, so we must immediately address the $700-per-student funding gap between elementary and secondary students by increasing elementary school funding to match.
• The cost of post-secondary tuition has continued to increase despite government promises to address the issue. With 75 per cent of jobs requiring post-secondary education, high tuition is an obstacle to achieving a competitive economy and a qualified, engaged workforce.
• To deal with this, we will provide $500 million to cap annual university tuition at $3,000 and college tuition at $700. We will also improve apprentice opportunities for skilled trades, agriculture and artisans. Ontario will receive a return on this investment through labour productivity gains and a healthier, happier society.

Joe Tascona for the Progressive Conservative Party
 
• I think it is important for you to know that should you elect me as MPP I will be representing my constituents’ views on our public education system. I would not support any measures that would negatively impact Ontario’s current education system. I have voted against my Party before.
 • I think it is important to understand that a Progressive Conservative government plans for better education will see annual education funding increased by $2.4 billion by 2011/12 – with the first $800 million delivered immediately to help Public and Catholic boards cope with their 2007/2008 budget demands.
• The funding formula must be fixed to ensure that high-growth areas like Barrie are given proper funding on a per-pupil basis. The McGuinty Liberals have shortchanged the children of Barrie in education dollars.
 
• The Honourable William G. Davis has been chosen to chair the Public School Fairness Commission to gather input in 2008 and make recommendations on the public education system. I will be monitoring this consultative process closely.
It is important for you to know that there has been no financial commitment to fund faith-based schools and there will be no school boards or funding of new school buildings. There are currently 320 elementary students in Christian schools in Barrie.
 • The Liberal candidate has said, “our public schools should serve as incubators of multiculturalism.” The Liberals are misrepresenting the facts and using scare tactics to get your vote. Currently, Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, and the Northwest Territories provide some level of partial public funding to faith-based schools.
 
• I am open to looking at the commission’s recommendations, but I intend on listening to my constituents. Government is for the people by the people – and if elected I am their voice on this proposed issue.
 
• The McGuinty government has ignored the needs of 70,000 autistic children and their families.

Employment
Aileen Carroll for the Liberal Party
• Under the Liberals, Ontario now has 340,000 more jobs than we had in 2003.
• Over 80 per cent of those new jobs are full time and over 95 per cent are in occupations that pay more than $19.50 an hour on average.
 • Under the Liberals, the average hourly wage has increased in Ontario by 12 per cent since October 2003 (from $19.06 to $21.39) and the average provincial personal income in Ontario has increased by more than 14 per cent over the past three years.
• The unemployment rate in Ontario was 6.4 per cent in August 2007 compared to 7.0 per cent in October 2003 when the Liberals took over from the Conservatives.
• The Liberals created the Ministry of Research and Innovation, which is investing nearly $1.7 billion over five years through research, commercialization and outreach programs throughout Ontario
• We introduced the $160 million Ideas to Market strategy to grow new start-ups and drive innovative discoveries rapidly from the lab to the marketplace
• We’ve launched ReNew Ontario, a plan to invest over $30 billion in the province’s public infrastructure by 2010; Introduced a $500-million Advanced Manufacturing Investment Strategy that provides loans to help industry stay competitive.
• The Liberals’ Move Ontario 2020 will be one of the largest transit builds in North American history and by far the largest in Canadian history. This $17.5-billion, 12-year plan funded in part by the Federal Government will more than double the kilometres of rapid transit in the GTA to more than 900 kilometres. It will entail 52 separate rapid transit projects and be paid for over 50 years.
• Move Ontario 2020 will create 175,000 new jobs during construction, and it will allow goods and people to move where they need to go more efficiently, thus increasing productivity. It will mean real time savings and increased convenience.
• The Liberal strategy attracted almost $7 billion in new investment in the auto sector, creating as many as 7,000 new jobs.
• The Liberals’ stewardship over the economy and government finances has put Ontario on a solid footing. The $5.6-billion deficit the Liberals inherited from the Conservatives in 2003 has been turned into a surplus.

Larry Taylor for the New Democratic Party
• We will protect Manufacturing jobs in Ontario by establishing a Job Protection Commissioner to help at-risk companies survive and save jobs. The Job Commissioner would step in when companies face difficulties and negotiate new deals with banks, creditors and employees.
• We’ll maintain the lower cost of electricity in northern Ontario at a regionally sensitive stable rate.
• We’ll encourage investments in conservation and energy efficiency measures for resource and manufacturing industries.
• We’ll use public investment funds to make investments targeted in key industrial sectors rather than across-the-board corporate tax cuts.
• We’ll fight for the protection of workers’ pensions by increasing the guaranteed portion of monthly pensions.
• We’ll establish $10 minimum wage immediately, not in three years. We need to extend help to our most vulnerable workers.
Erich Jacoby Hawkins for the Green Party
• We need to foster 21st-century jobs – green jobs in sustainable industries such as the manufacture of fuel-efficient vehicles, wind turbines, public transit, sustainable agriculture and forestry, and ecotourism. The opportunities are unlimited.
• The Green Tax Shift is a good first step in creating the conditions for a prosperous and sustainable economy that produces green jobs. Over four years, we will reduce personal income taxes by $5.8 billion (including a phase-out of the Health Tax) and corporate tax by $1 billion, replacing that revenue with a two-per-cent per year tax on fossil fuels.
• By removing taxes from employment and putting them on resource use instead, Ontario will receive a double dividend: improved environmental performance and more jobs.
 
• Our Green Jobs Plan will increase employment, competitiveness and innovation, while establishing worker protection. By adjusting market signals to reflect environmental costs, we will create markets for new, innovative green businesses, technologies and products.
• The threats of climate change, pollution and energy shortages create opportunities for green jobs and healthy communities.

Joe Tascona for the Progressive Conservative Party
• Barrie is one of many Ontario communities that have collectively lost more than 120,000 high-paying manufacturing jobs over the past two years. A Progressive Conservative government wants to make Ontario more competitive, in order to attract and retain high-paying jobs in Ontario.
• Dalton McGuinty’s capital tax hurts the people of Ontario – it deters investment, kills jobs and pushes investors elsewhere. Ontario has the highest job-killing capital taxes in Canada and the second highest in the world.
• Dalton McGuinty has raised corporate taxes and done nothing meaningful to reduce capital taxes. Canada remains the only G-7 country to levy a corporate capital tax, making us less competitive. Capital taxes lead to wage and job cuts in economic slowdowns. Capital taxes contribute to Ontario’s slow economic growth – the Conference Board of Canada predicts that Ontario will have the lowest GDP growth in 2007 of all the Provinces.
 
• Highway 400 must be improved to attract businesses. McGuinty has refused to fund the plans to end gridlock on Highway 400 that the Progressive Conservative government put in place in 2003, which were for a state-of-the-art highway with more HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes for cars and buses, a cement guardrail, and alternate routes on Highways 404 and 427.
• We will act to end the gridlock and resolve the Barrie-Innisfil boundary to revitalize Barrie’s economy.
• We need a business leader like John Tory to rebuild our economy by lowering taxes and hydro costs. Georgian College students deserve a decent job when they graduate.
 
• High Tech businesses locate in communities which have a large population and labour pool that match their skill set. Closer-to-home quality post-secondary education has been my vision for Barrie. I worked hard to ensure Georgian College’s campus was expanded and attained University Partnership Status with 3,000 university students now on campus.
• My goal will be for Georgian College to attain University status and secure capital funds to add 6,000 university students to its campus.