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A letter to Andrea Horwath: Help for 'middle-class families' not enough

Dear Ms. Horwath;

Thank you for your letter to the Premier of Ontario asking her to make life in the province "more affordable, not more expensive."

It has, indeed, come to the attention of many that life for millions of people in Ontario is not affordable.

They do not make enough to make ends meet because they are not paid a living wage, the kind of living wage that would come from being paid a $14 or $15 an hour minimum wage. It is sad that no one in parliament advocates for this.

They are suffering due to inadequate social assistance rates across the board; rates barely raised for twenty years now while extremely well-compensated politicians ignore the people made to endure nearly impossible hardship on them.

They cannot afford daycare or medications because we have cut personal taxes so much (and not just, as you imply, on the upper classes) that we have no hope of building universal Pharmacare or daycare programs. This leaves many citizens and residents of Ontario, as you have put it, with nothing but lint in their pockets. Sadly, again, no one is advocating for universal Pharmacare or daycare.

While some advocate boutique tax cuts for "small" business and middle-class homeowners, many find life unaffordable due to woefully inadequate public transit that keeps people in expensive and destructive automobiles and keeps fares too high for those without cars.

Free public transit would certainly make life more affordable. At the very least, greatly expanded transit would make the lives of millions far better. It might help save the planet as well.

Strict rent controls and a public housing strategy would make life more affordable.

Lower and ultimately free tuition fees would make life more affordable. They would also greatly enhance equality of opportunity, which these days is mostly a myth.

Socializing the ownership of multinationals trying to move their factories out of the province and thereby preserving good jobs would obviously make life more affordable for the workers and communities devastated by corporate immorality and greed.

I can think of many other things that might make life more "affordable." And more just and fair. Like free summer and after school programs for kids, free educational and recreational programs for adults, stricter labour laws to prevent employer abuse of workers, laws to actually facilitate unionization or worker co-operatives and so many more.

Programs, increases and steps that, even a couple of which, would actually, truly, honestly, clearly make life more "affordable" for citizens and residents in Ontario. As well as making our society a better and far more just place to live in.

Maybe it is time to talk about a few of these ideas. To force the leaders of what we have always assumed were the parties of business, the Liberals and Conservatives, to listen and take notice. To force them to hear what a real People's Agenda would be about.

I would hope you would consider using your power to seek some of these concessions in the minority parliament and in office should you win the next election.

They would make life far more "affordable." They might even surprise you in how they could inspire the people of the province. They would also have the virtue of being the right thing to do.

All the best and In Solidarity.

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