Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown is asking how the provincial Liberal government doesn’t consider there to be a hydro crisis while a Sault long-term care home says their hydro bill have spiked in just one year.
Brown made an appearance in Sault Ste. Marie Wednesday during his current tour of northern Ontario, stopping this afternoon at the F.J. Davey Home — a long-term care nursing home with 374 beds.
The facility, said Brown, has experienced a dramatic increase in its electricity bill over the course of just one year.
“Their hydro bill has gone up 39 per cent over one year — $165,000,” he said.
Brown said he asked for a list of internal services affected by the increase in energy costs.
“The list shocked me — it affects housekeeping, laundry, dietary, plant maintenance, repairs. What they have summarized to me is do we want seniors in a home or an institution. Because if you don’t have plants, if you don’t have clean sheets, it becomes more of an institution,” said Brown.
He added, “right now, they are cutting corners they can’t cut. They are cutting care they can’t cut, and it’s not right.”
Brown, who represents the riding of Simcoe North, plans on bringing up the facility’s spike in energy costs when he returns to Queen’s Park.
“There is a cost to Kathleen Wynne’s hydro crisis, and it goes well beyond dollars and cents and businesses. It’s affecting our most vulnerable,” said Brown.
Electricity costs, said Brown, also came up in his meeting today with the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce.
Among other topics of conversation, he said, were infrastructure, the skills gap and red tape.
“The chamber has been a great voice for small businesses and we have a lot of mutual concerns,” said Brown.
In a morning meeting at the Group Health Centre, Brown said he heard how the centre had to close down mental health services in 2012 as a result of a 12-year funding freeze.
Brown wonders how people can be encouraged to come forward and speak about their mental health issues, while funding is cut across the province affecting those very programs.
With a byelection yet to be called in the Sault Ste. Marie riding, Brown said it is important for local candidate Ross Romano to get out early, doing door-to-door conversations with voters in the riding.
The Ontario PCs have won four of the last five byelections that were called since the 2014 general election.
“In every byelection, we have seen the Conservatives with huge increases of support and the Liberals in every single byelection with massive decline in support. I have to say, there is a real appetite for change in the province and I think increasingly voters are looking at the PC party,” said Brown.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath was in town last weekend, making a policy announcement and attending various Bon Soo events.
Romano and Brown planned to go knocking on doors late this afternoon, something the pair did on Brown’s last visit.
“(Romano) has a great response at the doors. People are fed up with the Wynne government — especially on hydro and health cuts. What I was most impressed with — he spoke fluent Italian,” said Brown.
Brown was scheduled to drop the puck at tonight’s game between the Soo Greyhounds and the visiting Sudbury Wolves.
In advance of Brown’s visit, the Liberal Caucus Service Bureau issued a news release with points countering some of Brown’s expected talking points.
Of the skills gap, the bureau noted Brown voted against giving free university and college tuition to middle and low income families.
In the case of infrastructure spending, the bureau pointed out provincial funding for Sault Area Hospital, ARCH, Algoma University and the retrofitting of the Bt. Basil and Alexander Henry secondary schools for future use as elementary schools.