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NDP candidate runs to restore public service
September 18, 2003

Napanee Guide

Sep 18, 2003

After fighting for the public service for years, NDP candidate Ross Sutherland decided to take it head on in the provincial election.

The NDP candidate for Hastings-Frontenacs-Lennox & Addington has made restoring the public service his number one issue for the Oct. 2 election.

Sutherland is the chair of the Kingston Health Coalition where he has advocated for universal public health care that cuts out the private services.

For Sutherland, it's an important time in politics with private institutions more involved in areas previously delivered solely by the public service. The political change of Tory rule in the past eight years has, in Sutherland's view, damaged valuable services such as health care, education, hydro and environmental protection. "Unless we take some firm action to protect them, our services could be gone," he says.

The value of restoring the public delivery of services is one that worth the cost. Taxes should be put to use in the public system, he says.

Water quality, food safety: Whether its water quality in Walkerton, meet inspectors or pollution from factories and farms, Sutherland believes the cost for public inspectors is worth it.

For example, he points out there were 150 meat inspectors in the Ontario when the PC's came to power in 1995 and today there are only 10. Safe food and water and a clean environment are costs worth bearing, he says.

Health care: "Public health care provides cheaper, better quality care than for profit," he says. Sutherland, a registered nurse in Hotel Dieu's ER, who also teaches at Queen's University, has been a strong opponent of private clinics and services.

"Twenty per cent of home care costs are spent on system inefficiencies. It's profit taking instead of patient care."

Health care is the prime public service and if it continues to be underfunded, the province may lose it. We need to defend public health care for everyone, he adds.

Education: The Rozanski report delivered a solution to fix the education system but no one has a solution for funding. Sutherland says the NDP will deliver $2 billion for education by "increasing taxes for those who earn more than $100,000 per year and by stopping tax credits for private schools."

With proper funding, the rural schools will receive proper resources and programming for special needs students.

Hydro: Ontarians built the public hydro system, paid its taxes, constructed the grid and should retain its ownership, says Sutherland. The private hydro industry in Ontario has forced rates up and the PC government to freeze the hydro at 4.3 cents/kilowatt hour.

"The huge bungling mess the PC created isn't saving anyone money, but rather paying $1 billion a year to the for-profit hydro producers." Sutherland supports a total public hydro system that explores the potential of wind generation.

Richmond Landfill: "The government shouldn't appeal," he says. "The people of Tyendinaga and Napanee have fought the good fight to defend their neighbourhood."

Mega-dumps should be phased out, he says. "It's the old technology." Sutherland says communities should be involved in mass recycling that leads to 90 per cent waster diversion in 10 years.

Auto Insurance: In a rural area, everyone drives a car and is affected by high insurance costs, says Sutherland. The auto insurance industry should be made public, and rates would be more controlled.

Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia all have public auto insurance and all have remained public regardless of which political party has come to power.

Sutherland is married to Nancy Bayly and they live on Desert Lake in South Frontenac.