Submitted by Yasir Naqvi, MPP Ottawa Centre –
I could not be more proud to serve a community like Ottawa Centre, that has helped advocate for change not just in our community, but across the province. Change as large as giving municipalities the tools to lower speed limits in neighbourhoods or reforming Ontario’s land-use planning appeal system (and replacing the OMB), to expanding the Dovercourt Recreation Centre, building a new Broadview P.S. or investing in an addition at Elmdale P.S.
Ottawa Centre is a diverse and welcoming place where we strive to make sure everyone gets the care and the opportunity they need to succeed, and I believe that is reflected in Ontario’s 2018 budget. In last year’s budget, we announced OHIP+ to provide free pharmacare to children and youth aged 24 and under beginning January 1, 2018. That program filled almost a million prescriptions in its first month of operation. This year we are expanding OHIP+ to cover seniors aged 65 and over beginning in August 2019. Once implemented, 1 out of every 2 Ontarians will have full and free prescription drug coverage. But we aren’t stopping there. In this year’s budget we are announcing the Ontario Drug and Dental Program for anyone without drug coverage. This program will cover 80% of eligible prescription drug and dental expenses up to a maximum of $400 for one person, $600 for a couple, and $700 for a family of four. This means that all Ontarians will have some level of access to drug and dental coverage. We know that child care affordability has been an issue for families in our community. In 2016, we committed to creating 100,000 new child care spaces. In the 2018 budget, we are making an investment to provide free licenced child care for all children aged 2½ to when they enter full day kindergarten. This will save parents an average of $17,000 per child. The investments in the 2018 budget will make Ottawa a hub for medical care innovation. This budget allocates $1.8 billion for the design and construction of The Ottawa Hospital’s new Civic Campus in our community — to improve the quality and capacity of our regional health care services. We have completed the expansion at the Cardiac Life Support Services at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute — an investment of almost $200 million.
Finally, the budget also includes a $105 million investment in the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario to help children and youth with special needs receive better care. We are continuing to make the critical investments in our regional transit and transportation infrastructure. Stage 2 of the Ottawa LRT will build on the Trillium Line and the Confederation Line by adding 40km and 23 new stations.