Provincial parties answer your questions about Ottawa issues

You told us what issues were important to you this election, so we asked the parties. Here’s what we heard back.

Geoff Sharpe
30 May

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Good morning!

I’m back for a few days before I’m off on vacation. Many thanks to Geoff for taking the reins last week, and for the weeks ahead. 

I managed to catch an Ottawa Titans ballgame over the weekend, and it was great! Really nice to be back at that ballpark. Highly recommend it. It’s affordable, the beer is quality, and there was a free hot dog toss. And despite its age, that stadium is pretty great.

In today’s issue, we’ve got responses from the provincial parties to questions you folks told us were important to you this election. Unfortunately, not everyone got back to us. The PCs never even acknowledged that we’d sent questions. The Green Party said they were working on answers, but in the end, never got them to us. 

Which is too bad! Election Day is Thursday, and this was a good chance for the parties to talk about where they stand on issues in this city, a part of the province often ignored by Queen’s Park.

That’s the way it goes sometimes. Let’s get to the newsletter.

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Weather Report

Monday: 30 🌡️ 18 | ⛅️

Tuesday: 29 🌡️ 16 | 🌧

Wednesday: 24 🌡️ 13 | 🌧

Provincial parties answer your questions about Ottawa issues

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca
Andrea Horwath/Twitter, Steven Del Duca/Twitter

After getting feedback from Lookout readers about the issues you care about this provincial election, we put a series of questions to the parties. This is the first of two parts of their responses. We asked them five questions about local issues affecting Ottawa. Questions were about councillor misconduct, the location and funding of the Civic Hospital, construction of the LRT, highway widening, and municipal autonomy. 

For space reasons, these are only answers to three of those questions: on the Civic Hospital, the LRT, and misconduct at council. You can see the rest of their answers here

Three of the main parties responded to our request, but the Progressive Conservative Party did not acknowledge our questions. The Green Party replied that they were working on responses, but did not provide them in time to make our deadline, so their answers aren’t included.

Civic Hospital

Does your party support the controversial location of the new Civic Hospital campus? And would your party require the city of Ottawa to pay $150 million for its construction, despite health care being a provincial responsibility?

NDP: We can’t comment directly on the location of the Civic Hospital, but we are committed to investing in our hospitals, and stopping the shameful practice of downloading these funding responsibilities to municipalities. An NDP government would raise hospital funding to exceed health sector inflation, population growth, expanded operating plans, and unique local needs such as aging populations.

The NDP will work in partnership with municipalities to implement a new deal that respects municipal government and reverses the unfair downloading of provincial costs and responsibilities to local governments. This means sustainable municipal finances and fair cost-sharing of municipal-provincial priorities like transit, housing, childcare and infrastructure, with predictable and adequate funding that allows municipalities to make long-term plans.

Liberal: This project urgently needs to move ahead. Our Ottawa team has passionately advocated for its funding and an Ontario Liberal government will move quickly to ensure the city is supported through its completion. Additionally, we will be supporting all Ontario hospitals to clear the surgical and diagnostic backlog with a $1-billion investment in additional capacity.

While we have not received a proposal to change the new Civic Hospital campus’ funding framework, we know that municipal budgets were hit hard during the pandemic. As such, we will review municipal fiscal sustainability and the potential to upload responsibility of more critical infrastructure to the province. As this review is ongoing, we will maintain regular contact with the City of Ottawa to ensure their budgetary needs are met, including those related to Civic Hospital.

LRT

Phase 2 of the LRT is under construction. Does your party support the continued financial support for the project until its completion? Will your party support the construction of Phase 3?

NDP: The NDP will invest in phase 3 of the Ottawa LRT. Our platform promises to restore the province’s traditional 50 percent funding for municipal transit systems across Ontario, which will improve transit service in municipalities across Ontario, so they are reliable, affordable and accessible, including the Ottawa LRT.

Liberal: We know that more frequent and accessible transit will transform the Ottawa region and empower locals to choose transit over driving. The Ottawa LRT is a key part of this equation. That is why an Ontario Liberal government will fund Stage 3 of Ottawa’s regional transit plan and apply the lessons learned from the first two stages to make this project as successful as possible.

Council misconduct

Our city has had a councillor who has been found to have committed serious misconduct. Would your party pass a bill to allow councillors to be removed from their seats in cases of proven misconduct?

NDP: We can’t comment directly on this specific incident, but the NDP will be a committed partner in empowering municipalities to make decisions on their own governance and elections. We will strengthen local democracy by respecting the decisions of local councils, mayors, and residents. 

Liberal: Yes. When serious allegations surfaced against Councillor Rick Chiarelli, Orléans Liberal MPP Stephen Blais introduced legislation that would have given municipalities this power. The Ford Conservatives refused to move on this bill and let it die on the order paper. If elected, we will bring back similar legislation and work with municipalities to ensure anyone who brings forward allegations of abuse is listened to and supported.

Ottawa by the numbers

  • 100,000: The number of items the Ottawa Clothing Drive is hoping to raise in this year’s campaign. [OBJ]
  • 85,000: The number of calls for service Ottawa police received in the first quarter of the year, a nine percent increase from the same period last year. [CTV]
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Power nearly restored everywhere

Nearly there: Ottawa Hydro is in what it hopes are the final stages of reconnecting homes to the power grid. As of yesterday afternoon, there were only about 9,900 customers without power.  

The utility told CFRA the final neighbourhoods were the hardest hit, with mature trees that needed to be cleared in addition to reconnecting the power. They had originally thought they would be able to get power on by Friday night, but didn’t.

School’s back, mostly: Between the two English-language school boards, only 13 will be closed today. At the OCDSB, there were 10 closed schools, and three at the Catholic school board, according to CTV. Schools needed to have power back on by 3 pm on Sunday.

Volunteering to clean up: Across the city this weekend, teams of volunteers were out cleaning up brush and other damage. The city is coordinating volunteering efforts through the Cleaning the Capital program, and community associations across town are also mobilizing residents. For more information, see the website the city has set up for the cleaning efforts.

Caring in the dark: It was a busy week for the folks at the Ottawa Humane Society, where they took in more than 100 pets who needed urgent care during the storm. They had to do so running on generator power, caring for pets in the dark, sometimes only with headlamps, CBC reports.

Jobs around town

Stories you might've missed

Gatineau River stabilizes: After concerns about flooding, officials said flood risk along the Gatineau River had subsided. An overfilled reservoir upriver had raised the possibility there could be serious flooding in the city of Gatineau. The danger hasn’t entirely passed, and the city is monitoring the river levels. Sandbag dikes should be kept in place until Gatineau announces they should be dismantled. [CTV]

Ruining the view: One of the best views of the city’s skyline, as you come in from the west on the 417, is being marred by a giant white LRT repair shed. Residents want to know why the construction of the service building for the LRT extension couldn’t at the least be a colour that better blends into the surroundings. [Ottawa Citizen]

New records for Race Weekend: A new Ottawa Marathon course record was set by Ethiopian runner Andualem Shiferaw. At the same time, Rejeanne Fairhead set a Canadian record for finishing the 5K race at 95 years old. Canadian Kinsey Middleton was the first woman across the finish line at the marathon, the first time a Canadian woman finished first since 2007. [CTV]

Gas prices jump up: Once again, the cost of a litre of gasoline is above $2 in the city. It had briefly dropped into the $1.97/litre range, but once again returned to near all-time highs on Sunday. [CTV]

Community highlights

  • Jeopardy! champion Amy Schneider made a visit to Ottawa recently to see the Rideau Canal herself, after getting a question wrong about Ottawa on the game show. [CBC]
  • Former Ottawa Senators forward Jason Spezza, one-time member of the legendary pizza line, retired this weekend to join the front office of the Toronto Maple Leafs. [CTV]
  • Our food editor Ralf has some recommendations for northern Vietnamese food you don’t want to miss.
  • Have you seen Charlie? He went missing in Bel Air heights recently.
  • You’ve got until June 11 to check out The Secrets of Primrose Square, check out Apt613’s review of the play before you go.
  • Make sure to cover up if you’re in Kingston, it’s the Lyme disease capital of the province. [CTV]
  • One Ottawa woman got a surprise last week, when she found a coyote swimming in her pool. [CBC]

Today's top photo

Trees knocked over in Pleasant Park by the storm
Becky Skidmore/Ottawa Lookout Reader

Reader Becky Skidmore sends in this storm shot from Pleasant Park, with a number of downed trees. Still hard to believe how powerful the storm was.

Do you have photos of storm damage in your area? Send them our way. We’re looking to run photos from the Lookout community on how the high winds have affected your area.

Daily COVID stats

All infection and vaccination data via Ottawa Public Health. You can find the status of the wastewater tracking here. And you can find vaccination stats here.

  • Active Cases: 464 (+47)
  • Deaths: 804 (+0)
  • Ottawans In Hospital: 15
  • Ottawans In ICU: 1
  • Acute Beds Occupied: 100% 
  • ICU Beds Occupied: 78% 
  • ICU Ventilator Beds Occupied: 32% 

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