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Bhutila Karpoche: To truly fix what’s broken, Ontario needs an NDP government

This can be a time for hope, and a time to rebuild our communities

Canadian PoliticsEconomic CrisisLabour

Bhutila Karpoche, New Democrat MPP for Parkdale-High Park, marches in a minimum wage demonstration, October 2018. Photo by Bhutila Karpoche/Facebook.

The following article was submitted by Bhutila Karpoche, who has served as the member of Provincial Parliament for Parkdale—High Park since June 7, 2018. Bhutila made history by becoming the first person of Tibetan heritage to be elected to public office in North America. An epidemiologist by training, she is active on issues around social justice and public health. She is a longtime advocate of affordable housing, workers’ rights, and public healthcare.

What kind of a place is Ontario going to be for working people in 2026?

Will we have a province where universal mental health care and dental care have become part of a growing, strengthening and proudly public health care system? Or will we watch as creeping privatization erodes a system that’s already showing big cracks and is on the verge of breaking down?

Will seniors enjoy a robust (and, again, public) home care system, with long-term care options that deliver quality of life and dignity? Or will we leave in place a profit-driven regime that has already presided over thousands of deaths?

Moreover, will the government sitting at Queen’s Park actively fight to keep the essentials of life affordable and accessible for working people? Or will it just keep getting harder and harder to pay the bills and achieve your dreams, even if you have a good job?

The upcoming June 2 provincial election comes at a time when a lot of Ontarians are understandably tired. Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government has subjected us to a cancelled increase to minimum wage (only to be restored three years later, as a pre-election pitch); delayed implementation of affordable child care; let housing costs skyrocket; and, as part of their poor response to the pandemic, thousands of avoidable deaths under horrifying conditions in long-term care homes, denial of permanent paid sick days, health care backlogs, and bungled delivery of vaccines.

Life’s been hard with Doug Ford as premier. As I see every day in my community, it can be difficult for people to imagine their future when they have problems to deal with right in front of them—from keeping a roof above their heads to having to go to work sick.

This is precisely why this election matters, and why we have to keep thinking about what kind of province we want to have in the future. Because the longer Ontario lives under a PC government led by Doug Ford, not only will life get harder for regular Ontarians, it will take even longer to undo the damage.

The pandemic has made it clearer than ever that we all depend on our public services, so it really matters who’s in charge of them. When education, health care and senior care are strong, communities thrive. We have hope.

When these essential things are broken—because of neglect, underfunding, scandals and mismanagement—we all suffer.

And what’s next? Will Ford ease the suffering? What does Ford have planned if he gets another four years in power?

Shockingly—despite what we’ve all been through in the past few years—attacks on public health care and home care are right at the top of the agenda. As Canadian Dimension has already reported, the Ford government has worked toward privatizing health care in Ontario. The PCs have even set the stage for private hospitals, and passed legislation to privatize home care. They even granted long-term extensions to the licences of some of the for-profit long-term care operators who failed to prevent 4,000 people from dying under their care during the worst stages of the pandemic.

With another four years, Doug Ford would waste billions on highway projects to fuel more sprawl. The plans include a new 413 highway, which would bulldoze its way through sensitive agricultural lands and (supposedly protected) Greenbelt environments. And the Ford government doesn’t even plan to say how much it will cost until after the election, though estimates run into the $10 billion range and higher. His priorities have always been his buddies, not the people of Ontario. Ford has got to go.

But as we know, Liberals aren’t viable alternatives.

History has shown that a Liberal government wouldn’t fix any of Ontario’s long-standing problems. They’ll just keep blaming past PC governments for what’s broken—no matter how long they’re in office. And while they make a lot of promises, when push comes to shove, they let us all down. From devastating cuts to health care and education, freezes to the minimum wage, privatizing public utilities, and scandal after scandal after scandal, Steven Del Duca’s Liberals just aren’t the answer. Ontario’s needs are too urgent for us to go back to the way things were.

To truly fix what’s broken, Ontario needs an NDP government, urgently. We’ll start working hard from day one to get things moving in the right direction for working people again. And by 2026—the end of the first term of an Ontario NDP government—we’ll have made meaningful progress towards a more just, equitable, affordable, and prosperous province.

Imagine, by 2026:

When you move to a new rental unit, you’re paying what the last tenant paid—and your landlord no longer has the financial incentive to push for unfair renovictions. Hundreds of thousands of new, affordable units have been built or are under construction—including the “missing middle”—such as duplexes, triplexes, and townhomes. Ontario finally has a better mix of purpose-built rentals, affordable housing units, co-ops, and starter homes.

Ontario Disability Support Program rates are double what they were in 2022 and have been indexed to inflation to ensure that no one is living in legislated poverty. Unfair clawbacks have ended and the program no longer cruelly penalizes recipients based on their marital and family status.

People who haven’t been able to afford to go to the dentist for even routine cleanings are getting the care they need under the NDP’s Ontario Dental Plan.

Your visit to your psychotherapist is covered with your OHIP card—not your credit card.

The transition from a for-profit long-term care system is already underway and loved ones are receiving better, culturally-responsive, care. No more licenses are being issued to for-profit operators, and delivery of these services have started to be transferred to public and community health organizations and non-profit. New transparency, accountability, and service standards are in place.

More seniors are aging at home, and for longer. The Ontario NDP government has invested over $1 billion in quality home care, Ontario has hired thousands of new personal support workers, and all PSWs are earning at least $5 more per hour than in 2019.

Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced dramatically—and the province is on-target to be at least 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2050—making Ontario a world leader on the transition to a low-carbon economy. Our air is cleaner and we have more protected green spaces.

And life is better for all workers, with a $20 minimum wage, guaranteed paid sick days for all, and hundreds of thousands of new good green jobs that pay the bills.

The best part is that we have an opportunity to turn this dream for 2026 into a reality in this election.

This can be a time for hope, and a time to rebuild our communities. The NDP wants to see Ontario finally realize its fullest promise as a place to live. And we’re working towards that—towards lifting each other up and out of the mess we’ve been in for years.

Bhutila Karpoche is the NDP candidate for Parkdale—High Park. A trained epidemiologist, Bhutila is a public health researcher and community organizer with deep roots in Parkdale–High Park. First elected in 2018, she is a hardworking problem solver, and has tabled more bills than any other MPP this term. She has been voted Toronto’s Best MPP by Now Magazine readers in 2019, 2020, and 2021; Toronto’s Best Local Politician by Toronto Star readers in 2019; and named one of Toronto’s Most Inspirational Women of the year by TRNTO Magazine in 2019.


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