Setting Local Priorites: A Year in Review
(Queen's Park Report - January 4, 2011) In 2010 I had the great privilege of working with thousands of people who I count among my top advisors. They are the ordinary, everyday families who contact my office each and every day to offer advice, ask questions or seek assistance. Together we worked on a number of projects last year and I want to report on what some of them were.In The Blue Moutains, I continued to work with Georgian Bay Apple Growers to secure the creation of the $985,000 Ontario Tornado Assistance Initiative that awarded $45 per apple tree ruined by the F2 tornado. There are still legitimate questions about how those funds were allocated, and we continue to work through those issues, but this was an important achievement in 2010.
In February, the Simcoe County Children's Aid Society was in a position where they were preparing to inform foster parents and other vendors that they would have no ability to pay them, putting 399 local children at risk. I started a petition and wrote an open letter to Dalton McGuinty to ask for him to intervene. Not long after that, the government announced financing to ease the pressure.
When people expressed concerns over industrial wind and solar farms being placed in communities like Clearview, Adjala-Tosorontio, Essa and Midhurst, I stood with them. We raised the issue in the Legislature on several occasions, not because we don't support renewable energy, but because we believe these industrial projects should be built only in places where they are welcomed and wanted and at prices ratepayers can afford.
In the summer I mailed a postcard petition to every home in Green Briar and Briar Hill in Alliston to gather support for the ongoing fight to have traffic signals installed on Highway 89. More than 253 families responded asking that the government address this serious safety issue. I've raised this in the Legislature before and I did it again in December. I'll continue to advocate for these residents in the new year.
I've started a petition for local MS patients and their families who have been asking the government to give them a chance for improved quality of life. They've asked for clinical trials for liberation therapy and I've been supporting them.
Supporting local agriculture is very important to me. Local farmers have been pleading with the government to bring in a business risk management program for all sectors. I not only introduced a Resolution to do just that, we also debated it and gained strong support from the Ontario Cattleman's Association and a number of commodity groups. While the McGuinty government didn't support this initiative, my Party is committed to implementing these reforms if voters allow us to form a government.
For the past four months I have joined with hundreds of constituents to fight the closure of medical laboratories in Tottenham, Stayner and Elmvale, and to fix the deteriorating conditions at labs in Alliston, Collingwood and Wasaga Beach. Due to our persistent fight, the Tottenham lab will re-open soon and the Wasaga Beach lab will be expanded later this year. We even have a temporary re-opening of the Stayner lab. We've had some success, but I'm not giving up until labs are permanently re-opened in Stayner and Elmvale and until wait times are reduced.
There are obviously many other local issues and many untold stories. These are just a sample of the local issues I worked on in 2010 with my top advisors - the 125,000 people who make up the families of Simcoe-Grey. I look forward to continuing to work with you in 2011.
In my next column I'll summarize some of the issues that I worked on at Queen's Park that were part of my critic and MPP responsibilities. Look for it next week on my website at www.jimwilsonmpp.com.