The Socialist Party of Ontario believes that the labour power and natural resources of a society should be used in an ecologically compatible, equitable and sustainable manner for the benefit of all, including future generations.
The economy of a truly democratic society should also be cooperative and democratically managed so that citizens can be active in the running of their workplaces as well as planning the direction of economic development.
Such an equitable, cooperative and democratic economy that planned for the future and took full account of the needs of both people and the planet would be less wasteful, more inclusive and would help to solve many of the pressing problems facing the world.
Yet the private accumulation of vast sums of capital, an inevitable result of the capitalist system, prevents equitable distribution of wealth and real democratic participation.
And the capitalist system, which has profit as its only consideration, promotes and relies on unsustainable growth in population, expansion and consumption and does not take the needs of people or the planet into account.
This private accumulation of wealth and power has created a situation where CEOs may make in a few hours what workers make in a year, where global warming advances rapidly, pollution and chemicals poison our air and water, species are becoming extinct and natural habitats are under threat, where it is increasingly difficult to find decent employment and retire at a reasonable age with security and dignity, and where many people suffer needlessly from poverty
The Socialist Party of Ontario will work actively, through government and social movements, for the social ownership of natural resources, large manufacturing, electricity, high-tech, large agro-corporations, and other important industries. Socially owned companies must form the core of the economy, thus enabling planning and democratic management of the economy.
Further, socially owned companies must make the betterment of society and the environment their top priorities and consider these objectives even before profit. Profit made will go towards improving the company, community, working conditions and the environment and will not be used for the enrichment of a small group. These companies will be democratically managed by a board made up of workers, citizens, experts and government.
The Socialist Party of Ontario believes that the socialized sector of the economy, which is to be the largest sector, will work cooperatively with small and medium sized enterprises while encouraging and promoting co-operatives and other social, non-profit organizations.
The Socialist Party of Ontario pledges that it will not make decisions based on the anticipated response of the capitalist media and will concentrate instead on the direct approach, explaining the philosophy and benefits of socialism via pamphlets, Internet, door-to-door, and any other available means of communication. At the same time we will present an analysis of the evils of capitalism, with emphasis on the dire consequences, such as increasing climate change, which will inevitably ensue if we fail to eradicate capitalism.
To ensure maximum participation the party will establish an accessible Internet site where all members and others can discuss and be polled on policy.
The Socialist Party of Ontario is not strictly a parliamentary or electoral party but a campaigning party which builds and works in movements in solidarity with socialists and people in struggle locally and across Ontario, Canada and the world.
The Socialist Party supports workers, youths and the oppressed in struggle and works to bring movements together.
The Socialist Party shall include education and popularization of socialist ideas as one of its goals.
Our Socialist Commitment to Ending Poverty and to Social Inclusion.
The Socialist Party of Ontario is committed to living in an Ontario without poverty and is committed to living in a society where all people are considered equal.
We are committed to living in a society where there are no barriers to full participation by all people in supportive governance structures as well as the social, economic and cultural development of the province, in particular, those persons who face discrimination on the grounds of their race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, marital status, family status or disability.
We are committed to living in a province where every person can achieve her or his full potential and contribute to the development of a fair and compassionate society according to their abilities and;
The Socialist Party of Ontario is committed to the principles of respect, dignity, inclusion, co-operation, diversity, and the centrality of community.
Therefore a Socialist Party of Ontario government will work to strengthen the Poverty Reduction Act (2009) and establish:
• Specific poverty reduction targets at least every three years;
• Community-based data accounts with comprehensive facts and figures and linked to the government’s statistical data base with full public access;
• A permanent, inter-ministerial working group comprised of at least 50% of those living with poverty and historically excluded groups including immigrants, women, single mothers, people with disabilities, aboriginal peoples and racialized groups, 25% members from the voluntary/non-profit sector, 15% government representatives (including civil servants and elected officials) and 10% from the business and academic sectors;
• Annual progress reports that fully disaggregates data;
• Public participation extended beyond biannual consultations to also include a permanent policy network linking communities to the government-based working group;
Be It Resolved That the elimination of poverty and social exclusion will be based on three core goals as determined by the people of Ontario in their petition for a poverty-free society (2008):
• Ensuring liveable incomes that affirm the dignity for all Ontarians- including those unable to work.
• Investing in strong and supportive communities where opportunity and equitable inclusion is a reality for all, through enhanced access to affordable housing, early learning and child care, education and community programs that help people connect and thrive.
• Achieving sustaining employment through a good jobs strategy that assures a living standard above poverty for any adult who works full time throughout the year and that pursues equitable access to work, fair pay and stable working conditions for all Ontarians.
In addition the Socialist Party of Ontario will work co-operatively with all sectors to act immediately and to invest in high priority areas such as food supplements, pharmaceuticals, childcare, transportation, building and restoring affordable housing units, increasing and indexing social income support benefits, and broadening eligibility for social programs and services.
In so doing the Socialist Party of Ontario does not seek to restore or rehabilitate the Keynesian Welfare State, rather it seeks to promote the full integration of all citizens in a manner that reaffirms the party’s determination to transform society from the existing neo-liberal, capitalist system that has only profits as its primary consideration to one that privileges social cohesion and is truly democratic, inclusive and poverty free.
On Disability Benefits
People with disabilities are 11 times more likely to be unemployed than other Ontarians.
Yet the Ontario Disability Support Program provides a maximum of $1,054 per month for a single person, which is below the poverty line by almost $7,000 per year.
ODSP reduces that amount by 50 cents for every dollar earned by a person receiving benefits.
A Socialist government in Ontario would implement the recommendations of the “What Stops Us from Working” report sponsored by The Dream Team, Houselink Community Homes, and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
We would increase monthly work-related benefits to $150 from $100, exempt the first $600 per month from 50 per cent earnings clawback for one year, reconcile earnings yearly instead of monthly and streamline treatment of EDSP earnings with programs such as subsidized rent, child care and student loan repayment.
Further we would expand ODSP employment supports to include training and on-the-job support as well as raising asset limits.
A Minimum Living Wage
A Socialist government would create in Ontario a Minimum Living Wage for all Ontarians and would further create an Ontario Living Standards Act that will seek to do for income what the Canada Health Act has done for medical care.
A Socialist Party of Ontario government will work to start to end poverty by implementing a guaranteed annual income of no less than $18,849, with annual adjustments for inflation, for each individual adult plus a child allowance.
As an interim measure, the Socialist Party of Ontario advocates the complete reversal of the Harris era cuts to welfare and will increase social assistance rates by 55% in order to restore them to their 1993 level with adjustments for inflation as well as the full restoration of the Special Diet program.
On the Rights of Workers:
The Socialist Party of Ontario understands that the struggle for true social equity and equality must also include a true commitment to the defense of workers’ rights.
Therefore a Socialist government would strictly enforce all labour laws and would expand the numbers of public service workers whose function is to enforce these said laws.
It would further reintroduce anti-scab legislation and ban the use of replacement workers during strikes.
It would also would ban the use of back-to-work legislation and would oppose it in all instances while in opposition.
Finally a Socialist Party government would reverse all legislation designating workers other than police, fire fighters and paramedics as “essential services”.
It would further recognize that the right of unions to be certified on the basis of a “card check” system once 50% +1 of a workplace sign a union card will be guaranteed. Victimization of union activists by employers is not permitted and will result in automatic unionization if it occurs during a union drive.
Making EI Fair for Workers Again.
The Employment Insurance programme was originally intended as a benefit to be paid out in times of need to workers who had lost their jobs, and workers supplied the premiums to the system and they were to benefit from it when required.
Instead, due to changes made by Liberal and Tory governments to help subsidize their handouts to their corporate friends through tax cuts and bailouts while still maintaining a balanced budget, the EI fund has become a cash cow for the federal government that pays out less in benefits than it takes in from workers.
Further, the fund especially penalizes Ontario’s workers as Ontario pays 38% of all of the fund’s premiums but receives only 29% of benefits, only 37% of Ontario’s unemployed are even eligible for benefits while the self-employed, the casual worker and many part-time workers are entirely excluded as are the long-term unemployed, and we continue to be regarded as a low unemployment area despite having an unemployment rate higher than the national average.
Therefore a Socialist government would advocate making EI a provincial jurisdiction again, as is the province’s right, if the federal government refused to stop financing its corporate agenda with worker’s money.
A Socialist government would force or create itself a revenue neutral fund that pays out to workers when they are in need what they have paid into it.
Further, it would expand eligibility and the length of coverage and it would pledge, in times of prosperity, to never use the funds of EI for any other purpose, but rather to sit on any surpluses and the interest they generate so as to maintain the fund when the economy goes through a downturn or slump.
Finally, it would reverse all changes that have been made to EI by the federal Liberal and Conservative governments between 1995 and the present.
A Socialist Commitment to Remaking Work
A Socialist Government would introduce a legally mandated third week of vacation time for all workers in Ontario and therefore increase the amount paid by employers to employees for vacation time from 4% of their yearly salary to 6% of their yearly salary. In addition an SPO government would make May 1st, International Worker’s Day, and March 8th, International Women’s Day statuatory holidays.
Further, a Socialist Government in Ontario would introduce in the province of Ontario a 35 hour work week without loss of pay.
A Socialist government in Ontario would create a period of 12 weeks of non-transferable paid paternity leave for all residents of the province of Ontario in addition to the existing maternity leave laws on file. This “paternity” leave would apply to the secondary partner, as decided by the parents, and would exist regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of the parents.
Further the SPO feels that part-time employment does not provide people with enough income to live decent lives and seldom provides benefits. Companies are increasingly seeking part-time employees because they can pay them less, have more flexible staffing hours, and pay less in benefits.
An SPO government will create laws regarding the maximum percentage of part-time employees a company is allowed to employ based on its size and the type of company it is.
Finally, a Socialist Government will introduce an immediate increase of the minimum wage to $15 an hour in Ontario and will have it indexed to increase every year according to the Cost of Living Index.
Our Socialist Commitment to Preserving Jobs and a Social Economy
Right now corporations have the freedom to take their operations and jobs just about anywhere in the world leaving workers at the mercy of corporate decisions. Working people need strategies to deal with job loss as a result of corporate decisions.
The SPO will support worker democratically run enterprises financially and morally and will take steps to assist workers in assuming ownership should their place of employment close or should they initiate new enterprises.
In the end the workers of any factory are the ones who generate the wealth for the company. Despite this in Ontario, as elsewhere, productivity has increased dramatically with almost no increase in worker’s pay and there has been a strong trend for profitable corporations to move factories oversees in order to increase their rate of profits, despite the inefficiency, waste and harm to the environment that shipping products oversees creates.
There is a need for a strong industrial base in order to carry out the environmental changes we need as well as produce the goods required by all.
Therefore an SPO government would see that:
A. All closed factories will be reviewed by an association of its former workers and the government. If viable, the factory will be requisitioned by the government, put into public ownership and democratic management and retooled to meet the needs of the environment and the population. The former workforce will be rehired and, when necessary, retrained.
B. Profitable companies moving existing jobs out of Ontario but maintaining a base in Ontario will face penalties, up to and including a public takeover of operations and assets.
Towards Democratic Control of the Public Sector
The SPO believes that public corporations should be both democratic and work in the interest of the province, country and community.
Yet currently existing public corporations are run little differently than private enterprises, complete with corporate elitism, enormous executive salaries and the profit motive as its guiding force.
Therefore an SPO government would ensure that:
A. The Board of Directors of all public corporations be selected through a democratic, non-political process, with 1/3rd of the seats allocated for election by the workers of the company, 1/3rd selected by the public at large, and 1/3rd selected by the government
B. That democratic management processes be implemented that allows for employees to elect and remove supervisors and management level staff as well as allow greater input from employees regarding all levels of work. These measures will increase satisfaction, safety and productivity.
C. Create a mandate that all public corporations must follow which places the betterment of the people and the environment before any consideration of profit.
Ending the Safe Streets Act
The Safe Streets Act has an ambiguous definition of aggressive panhandling and was enacted following cutbacks to programmes for the poor and disenfranchised.
The Socialist Party of Ontario believes that poverty is, at its root, an economic and social problem, not a criminal problem.
Therefore a Socialist Party of Ontario government will repeal the Safe Streets Act in its entirety
A Public Auto Insurance Programme
An SPO government would create a public, no-fault, auto insurance programme in the province of Ontario and this programme would deliver insurance at rates that are set to cover costs only, with any surplus (profit) being used to lower rates and where rates only increase to offset inflation or to cover programme deficits.
A Programme of Public Pharma Care, Dental and Eye Care
With prescription medication playing an increasing role in health care delivery, it no longer makes sense to have universal health care that excludes drug coverage and;
Dental health is also clearly related to overall good health and the costs associated with both it and proper eye care means that many have to do without it.
It is important that all children regardless of economic status have access to dental hygiene, drugs and eye care so they can have the same advantages and opportunities as wealthier children to become successful, prosperous members of society.
Therefore a Democratic Socialist government would introduce basic prescription, basic dental and basic eye care coverage for all. The money would be raised partly through payroll taxes and general taxes. This would expand universal health care to be truly inclusive and ensure that access to such care is available to every citizen of Ontario.
A Socialist Healthcare Platform.
A Socialist Government must work to provide accessible, comprehensive healthcare coverage for all Ontarians.
Since the cuts of the 1995 Federal Budget (and additional cuts by successive provincial governments) Ontarians have seen a reduction in healthcare services covered, while hospital closures and privatizations that have led to increased costs for services.
While we acknowledging the impact that budget cuts have had on the healthcare system, we as socialists must also recognize, that an effective healthcare system must not simply be measured by how much money is spent, but by the actual health and welfare of its population.
For a publicly funded healthcare system to be effective, it must pool it’s resources to serve the needs of the population effectively, particularly the working class, visible minorities and with individuals who do not have private, comprehensive healthcare coverage.
Thus a Socialist Government would:
1) End the funding of private “boutique” clinics for MRIs, CT scans, and other services.
2) Establish long-term strategic plans for health-care funding based on population demographic trends.
3) Increase investment in IT to provide electronic health records for all Ontarians.
4) No longer utilize the P3 (Public-Private Partnership) business model for the construction of new hospitals.
5)Ensure full transparency in bidding process where private sector is used in short-term projects.
6)Increase the number of spaces within Medical schools in Ontario to levels adequate to provide satisfaction to the residents of the province.
7)Provide incentives to graduating medical students to work within remote areas of Ontario.
8) Increase the number of chronic care beds to accommodate needs.
9) Maintain nursing staffing at levels adequate for health and safety as recommended by the Socialist Government in consultation with nurses’ associations.
10)Increase investment in preventative medicine and chronic disease management.
11) Ensure that where the private sector is utilized for government projects such as construction, consulting or other services, the bidding process must be completely accessible to the public.
12)Ensure that the provincial government implements no policies that violate the Canada Health Act
13) An SPO government would eliminate all parking fees at hospitals in the province.
A Public Pharmaceutical Company
The pharmaceutical industry is one of the largest global capitalist industries with nearly guaranteed profits. Investment and research conducted by them is done primarily for the purpose of profit making while the lives of millions of people depend on life-saving medications which are priced to profit from peoples’ illnesses.
Therefore a socialist government in Ontario would establish a public not-for-profit pharmaceutical corporation that would both manufacture and distribute low-cost drugs – including to those suffering in poorer countries, invest in researching cures instead of treatments, and integrate with our public pharmaceutical plan to lower the cost of covering all prescription medications.
In Defence of Reproductive Rights
A Socialist government will provide to Ontarians free contraception as well as free fertility treatments for all who require them.
Further a Socialist government would guarantee women’s rights to reproductive choice and guarantee access to free abortion on demand for all women. All hospitals will be required to provide abortion services and free transportation will be available for women living in rural and remote areas who need to travel to obtain abortion services and for women in small cities and municipalities who wish to travel to obtain their abortion services out of town for privacy reasons.
On Cancer Prevention.
We as a society are currently facing an epidemic of cancer and other diseases whose cause is unknown.
A study by McGill University Health Centre has shown that “women living in the areas with the highest levels of [traffic-generated] air pollution were almost twice as likely to develop breast cancer as those living in the least polluted areas”.
Such studies are almost unheard of in capitalist society, which is reluctant to investigate areas which might interfere with profit.
The Socialist Party of Ontario, whether in or out of power, will encourage studies which will compare the prevalence of cancer and other diseases which have no identified cause and no cure with exposure to traffic-generated air pollution, radiation, chemicals in food, water and air, proximity to industrial and nuclear plants and other factors, so that the contributing causes of each disease can be identified and eliminated.
A Socialist Environmental Platform.
Climate change is a growing threat to survival on the planet and capitalism provides no viable or sustainable solutions to the present environmental crisis.
In the interests of the planet and future generations a Socialist government will fight global warming through massive public investment in the research, development and implementation of publicly owned clean renewable energy and efficiency technologies to rapidly replace fossil fuels.
We would put Ontario’s natural gas utilities under democratic public ownership and end private leasing of nuclear power facilities while phasing out nuclear power within 10 years.
We would invest in a massive program to retrofit large buildings with green roofs, require all future construction of large buildings to include green roofs, and invest in retrofitting homes, office and apartment buildings with energy efficient green technologies, insulation and modifications.
We would invest in a massive expansion of mass transit and intercity rail to provide alternatives to the car. Public transit will be well-funded and democratically controlled.
We would create a publicly owned network of battery change/recharging stations for electric and hybrid cars and create a publicly owned, province wide, car sharing program to provide a cheap, environmentally friendly and accessible alternative to private car ownership.
There must be a massive investment in research and development of better and cleaner technologies for vehicles.
Finally we must ensure that all workers in polluting industries would be guaranteed re-training and new living-wage jobs in socially-useful green production.
Our Commitment to Ending the Power of Agribusiness
An SPO government would work to see that the land belonging to big agribusiness would be taken into democratic public ownership with compensation based on proven need.
These farms would be run to ensure that food be organic, without genetic modification, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides and with the utmost attention paid to health and welfare, including the rights of animals and consumers, while moving away from mono crops.
Where possible big processors would be taken into public ownership and strict guidelines would be implemented to protect the health and welfare of animals and ensure that animals have access to the natural foods they have evolved with and that growth hormones and anti-biotics are strictly regulated and curtailed.
Finally, where possible, big food retailers, would be taken into public ownership to ensure an equitable distribution of food.
On the Creation of Freecycling Days
It is the stated objective of all of our levels of government to encourage the recycling and reuse of manufactured goods.
Yet many municipalities in the province of Ontario make it illegal to both put out household items to be given away for reuse and make it illegal to take items from the “garbage”.
As a result many perfectly reusable household items end up in landfill.
In part our culture of destructive and rampant consumerism is fostered by a sense that new is better.
Therefore a Socialist government would enact legislation overriding municipal by-laws and creating quarterly “Freecycling” days where citizens would be allowed to put out reusable household items to be available for others to take, free-of-charge, to be used in any way they see fit and without any threat of fine or other legal punishment.
This will help the environment by both diverting reusable items from landfill and preventing the unnecessary manufacture of items otherwise available.
Regulating the Trucking Industry
Heavy transport trucks are the cause of pollution, extra congestion on roads and damage to roads that were not designed for heavy transport on our crowded highways. An SPO government would institute regulation to ensure that unnecessary container and other heavy transport would be taken off our roads and be moved instead by ship and train.
A Socialist Platform on Public Transprtation in the GTA
Public transportation is vital to the prosperity and well-being of a large, metropolitan area.
The population of the City of Toronto has grown to 2.5 million people, and is expected to grow to 3 million by 2031 while the Greater Toronto Area has a population of over 5 million people.
There are 9 different public transit agencies operating within the Greater Toronto Area and yet no mass transit development, other than the Sheppard Subway has occurred within the Greater Toronto Area within the last 20 years.
Provincial funding for public transportation within the City of Toronto was eliminated in 1995 and additional funding cuts have rendered the current transit plan insufficient for the needs of the Greater Toronto area.
A Socialist government in Ontario will create a provincial agency, known as the Greater Toronto Transit Agency (hereafter, referred to as GTTA) that will replace all public transit services with York, Peel, Halton and Durham Regions and the City of Toronto this new agency be integrated with the existing Greater Toronto Transit Authority.
This GTTA will be responsible for the development and implementation of a mass transit policy within the aforementioned municipalities.
We would ensure that a mass transit policy developed for the Greater Toronto Region would have, as one of its initial objectives, an extension of the Yonge Subway into Richmond Hill, the Bloor Subway into Mississauga, and the addition of a subway line in Downtown Toronto connecting the financial district with the inner suburbs of the City of Toronto.
We would encourage co-operation with municipalities on the borders of the GTA.
This GTTA would be provided with sufficient funding for regular capital investment through public funding all new GTTA development would be accessible and all construction contracts be awarded to union shops.
Further, a Socialist government would put in place sufficient funding to make public transit in Ontario free.
But beyond this, the SPO feel that our concepts of urban planning are fundamentally misguided. Urban planning in Ontario’s major cities has been implemented with a lack of foresight and perspective, with too much reliance on private transportation and this has lead to a separation of work, education, community, retail and culture.
Urban planning must change the current “urban sprawl” with cohesive and connected communities that provide work, culture, housing and retail within a reasonable distance.
The SPO is committed to reorganizing existing municipalities on a more human basis around public transportation lines with proper access to educational facilities, health, welfare, retail, work, culture and to seeing that these municipalities be connected to a larger whole on an equitable basis.
A New GTA
It is very clear that a metropolitan government is needed for the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) for area-wide coordination and planning purposes.
In the past local democracy was disregarded by the Conservative government of Mike Harris by the forced amalgamation of Metropolitan Toronto. This created a “one size fits all” approach that is improper in a large and diverse metropolitan area.
An SPO governement would create a two-tier structure of metropolitan government for the GTA. The current City of Toronto and regional municipalities of Halton, Peel, York and Durham would be abolished and replaced by an upper-tier GTA regional government and elected council. The four community council areas would be turned into municipalities, and along with other lower-tier municipalities, be responsible for local matters. The GTA government would be responsible for such services as arterial roads, regional planning, public transportation, regional parks and housing.
A Plan to Build a High Speed Rail Network
In a world in which climate change and peak oil (the point at which global oil production peaks and begins to decline) pose severe threats to humanity and the biosphere, it is essential to plan for a sustainable future and to rebuild our cities, our agricultural system, and our transportation systems to that end. Allowing unregulated free enterprise to cope with the challenges we now confront dooms much of humanity and the life systems of the planet to destruction.
A democratic socialist programme must analyze the threats that confront our world and propose ways to deal with them.
One way, among others, is to begin the reconstruction of the transportation systems in Ontario.
As a result a Socialist Government in Ontario will undertake to construct a high speed train system from Windsor to the Quebec border. The system would include links to the major cities across the south of the province including Ottawa. The high speed train network would be a public works project, to be paid for and owned by the people of Ontario, through the government at Queen’s Park. The network would operate on dedicated lines and the trains would be electric powered. A high priority would be given to the use of Canadian technology and Canadian research and development in the conceiving of the line, and in the construction of the line and the trains to be used on it.
Negotiations would be undertaken with the government of Quebec to extend the system into Quebec to Montreal, Quebec City and other regions such as the Ottawa-Montreal corridor and the Eastern Townships. The federal government would be urged to participate in the planning and funding of the system.
The construction of a high speed train system would involve a shift in transportation priorities and spending from highways and airports (in cooperation with the federal government) to rail between cities and within urban areas. This is a long term shift to be fully achieved over the next several decades. The high speed inter-city system is a first step and it can be begun immediately.
A Socialist Housing Platform
We believe that having a home is a right.
Therefore a Socialist government will seek to abolish the housing wait list by building new affordable, publicly owned housing in its first term and these new units will be built to the highest possible environmental standards.
We would upload public housing to the province and restore full funding in order to rehabilitate and expand housing stock. Public housing would also be under democratic control.
A Socialist government would aggressively combat bed bugs and other infestations in public housing and require landlords to do the same in private housing and it would re-implement real rent controls to prevent landlords from raising a unit’s rent through eviction.
We would licence landlords in order to ensure that landlords adhere to certain standards and are penalized and lose the right to be landlords if they do not.
Further we would double annual spending on services and shelters for the homeless and ensure that homeless shelters are operated in a humane and compassionate manner.
In addition an SPO government would work to ensure that the term “slum landlord” be properly defined by a committee representing tenants, social movements, unions and elected officials and that the government would transform slum landlord housing units, as so defined, into social housing, through expropriation, with compensation on the basis on proven need. These units would be converted into decent, affordable housing with the implementation of Green technologies to reduce the costs of heating.
An SPO government would implement democratic control in the social housing sector over all issues of repair, public safety, social, recreation, cultural facilities and community gardens on the basis of tenant control with consultation from elected officials and trade unions.
It would see that the elected representatives of tenants are obliged to attend a minimum amount of meetings per annum and sit on tenant committees to actively change and implement housing policy.
Regulation of Payday Loan Agencies.
While not seeking to prevent those who need short term loans from access to them it is clear that the gouging of workers by PayDay loan agencies with interest rates that amount to usury must end.
We would ensure that Payday Loan Agencies be properly regulated and the interest rates that these agencies charge be comparable to that levied by banks on loans to businesses and individuals.
Creating a Public Job Agency
Job placement agencies are predatory and increasingly pervasive and yet there is no effective mechanism to connect unemployed people with work.
Therefore an SPO government would establish a non-profit placement agency that connects people directly to jobs in their communities and in their field of expertise or interest
On the Creation of a Public Banking Sector in Ontario.
Many socialists feel that the banking sector is in urgent need of reform, and some would even go so far as to favour the nationalization of some or all of the Big Banks.
This, however, is a constitutionally federal matter and cannot be done, in part or whole, by a provincial government.
In an effort to offer an alternative to the Big Banks a Socialist government in Ontario would recreate the publicly owned Province of Ontario Savings Office (POSO), which was a government owned savings bank that offered higher interest rates than commercial banks on a variety of savings accounts.
POSO, would also be allowed to advertise, which it was not in the past, and to offer limited, low-risk loans. Further it would be allowed to, as it once did, offer lower interest loans to the government of Ontario itself as its deposits went into Ontario’s consolidated revenue fund.
A Socialist Taxation Policy
The 30% cut in personal income taxes was the centerpiece of the Common Sense Revolution, depleting the revenue base significantly (about $11.6 billion to the treasury per year) and making it impossible to return to pre-1995 government spending levels.
Corporate and personal income tax cuts have cost the Ontario treasury well over $100 billion since 2003.
The main beneficiaries of personal tax cuts are upper income earners and there is little evidence to suggest that corporate tax cuts create jobs.
Therefore an SPO government would restore provincial income tax rates to their 1995 levels, adjusting for inflation and would create additional tax brackets for very high incomes.
The increase in incomes of the top 1% of income earners has been the main force driving income inequality in Canada and other advanced capitalist countries.
The Socialist Party of Ontario, therefore, strongly supports increases on the very highest income earners and the creation of new tax brackets. The Socialist Party of Ontario will ensure that the combined federal/provincial income tax rate for incomes between $250,000 and $500,000 shall be 60%, for incomes between $500,000 and $1 million shall be 70%, and for incomes over $1 million shall be 90%.
Further, the Socialist Party of Ontario supports taxing income from capital at the same rate as wages and salaries, and will raise the provincial portion of taxes on capital to match the combined federal/provincial rates on wages and salaries.
Finally the capitalist governments we have had have been careful to conceal exactly what our money has been spent on, preferring to make it look as if much of it has gone to welfare and other social costs, while concealing subsidies to corporations.
An SPO government would ensure that all persons paying income tax in Ontario would receive an annual statement itemizing in detail where the money they paid went. This would include all payments made by the Ontario government, and, if available, payments made by the federal government. Fine details not supplied on the annual statement would be available on the Internet.
A Socialist Programme for Legal Reform.
The legal system in Ontario is in great need of reform, especially in administrative areas, and as a province we are grossly underspending with the result that the system is overburdened and in danger of falling apart.
Fixing these problems is of tremendous importance to ensure the proper protection of the rights of those before the courts and to avoid miscarriages of justice, which undermine the system’s credibility.
Therefore a Socialist government would:
1) Hire more judges, clerks etc. Courts are currently extremely overburdened, especially in the suburbs. Often in our criminal courts it takes over a year to get a trial date in even the simplest case. Trials are being thrown out because they take so long, and thereby end up violating the rights of the accused. There are equally grave problems in the family courts. This results in many cases of injustice as people take deals that they shouldn’t because they can’t wait any longer, people spend too long in prison waiting for trial or too long without spousal support, etc.
2) Fund legal aid better: The underfunding in this area is an absolute disgrace. Without access to proper legal representation for all there is only justice for the rich. The very poor alone qualify for legal aid and even then only in certain areas of the law. There is a huge segment of the population, primarily the middle and working classes who can neither get aid nor afford proper legal assistance. This must end.
3) Fund prisons better. Poor conditions in our prisons and jails are neither morally right nor in the interests of prison guards or prisoners.
4) Ensure that the use of chain gangs or forced labour is prohibited.
5) Synchronize court rules. There are different procedures in different courts across the province. This results in delay and extra costs as most lawyers represent clients in many different courts.
6) Abolish conviction quotas.
7) Institute mandatory sensitivity and compassion training for prison guards will be implemented.
8) Ensure that Community Service Orders be returned to their original purpose as an alternative to prison.
On Police Accountability
It is of the greatest importance that the police entrusted by the citizens and government of Ontario to enforce the laws that we democratically enact are there to serve and protect the citizens who employ them, while also being accountable to them.
All too often these same civil servants work in a culture of entitlement in which they feel that the badge and the gun means that they dictate law and justice as opposed to the citizens who are supposed to govern them.
The historic injustice of the police forces of Ontario against people of colour, the LGBT community and the Native people of the province needs not only redress, but the institution of genuine civilian oversight.
As a result a Socialist Government would enact, in full, all 29 recommendations of the LeSage Report On The Police Complaints System In Ontario as found here:
A Socialist government, in addition to these recommendations, will also make an officer’s willingness to comply with the internal investigations of their department a condition of employment. Failure to comply with civilian oversight will result in termination of employment.
Further a Socialist government would call a civilian, public inquiry to be formed to investigate not only the abuses of the G20 weekend in Toronto, but also the historic abuses of civil rights against our province’s many diverse communities by the police that were supposed to protect them and whose salaries they paid. This will be done in the interests of basic justice.
A Socialist government would further enact legislation ensuring that to qualify to serve as a police officer, individuals be required to undergo training in the fields of Social Work, Diversity Training, Women’s Studies and Disability Studies, particularly in the area of mental illness, and that such training be included in the police college curriculum.
Our Support of Religious Freedom
The Socialist Party of Ontario supports, without qualification, the freedom of religious beliefs.
While the Government of Quebec and others worldwide have attempted to prohibit access to government services on the basis of religious dress we believe that there is no contradiction between the principles of a secular society and tolerance for religious beliefs.
We pledge that a Socialist government in Ontario will pass no law restricting access to government services due to a citizen’s manner of dress and will repeal any such laws put into place.
We further pledge that a Socialist government in Ontario will not deny access to government services to a citizen on the basis of their religious beliefs.
Our Commitment to Proportional Voting.
The present “first-past-the-post” system of electing parliaments in Ontario results in governments that do not actually reflect the will of the voters.
However a list based system of voting would not reflect our traditions of electing individuals to represent us in parliament directly through the use of electoral districts.
Therefore a Socialist government in Ontario will introduce legislation to replace the present “first-past-the-post” system of voting in provincial elections with a system such as the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system existing in Australia providing both proportional representation and ensuring that votes are explicitly cast for individual candidates rather than party lists.
Our Commitment to Democratic Recall
The SPO believes that elected officials should be responsive to the will of the people at all times, not only during election periods.
As we all know MPP’s often break their promises and governments, especially majority governments, operate as virtual dictatorships between elections.
An SPO government would introduce to legislation that would ensure that individual MPPs would be recallable by the electorate. A recall referendum for any MPP or provincial government would be initiated by collecting the signatures of 20% of the corresponding electorate. This would result in a by-election in the riding in question.
Towards Real Gender Equality in Parliament
The small proportion of women in the Ontario Legislature reflects the inequality of women in society and political parties have to date been unable to provide a means or mechanism to resolve the gross inequality of representation.
We as Socialists believe that gender balance achieved by having an equal number of men and women would provide greater democracy and lead to policies and laws which would remove barriers to equality of men and women in society.
While proportional representation has the potential to increase the number of women it is no guarantee and it is long past the time when women should have a guarantee of equal representation.
Therefore the Socialist Party of Ontario supports the principle of combining electoral districts in pairs and having two members elected from each, one from a list of women candidates and the other from a list of men.
A Socialist Education Policy
A Socialist Government would introduce an early childhood education system based on the one in France, that would allow parents to receive free full-day education for their children starting from the age of two.
The SPO believes that standardised testing in grades 3, 6, 9 and 10 is an instrument of a neo-liberal agenda to privatise public education.
Standardised testing discriminates against students, communities and schools on the basis of social class, ethnicity, immigration status and disability.
The amount of resources and time allocated to preparing students for the EQAO tests could be used more effectively to provide students with quality education.
This is why a Socialist Party of Ontario government would eliminate EQAO standardised testing in schools and abolish the OSSLT as a requirement for a secondary school diploma.
The Socialist Party of Ontario would cease all public funding of Catholic School Boards and would further cease any public funding of any faith based education.
The arts play an essential role in providing a well rounded and diverse education, in cognitive development, confidence building and imagination. Yet these programmes have been cut to the point that they are a shadow of their former selves.
A Socialist Government in Ontario would expand the curriculum to ensure and require that all students get a full arts education, including the visual, dramatic and musical, starting in elementary school.
The SPO feels that an entire generation benefited from relatively inexpensive university education and then slammed the door on the children of others by continuing to gratify themselves at the expense of those who came next.
We favour a commitment to promote social mobility and equality.
This is why a Socialist Government would immediately reverse all tuition fee increases since the year 1995 while increasing subsidies to universities proportionate to the decrease in tuition. Further it would eliminate these fees entirely by the end of its first mandate.
Further a Socialist government shall provide a living wage to students in order to ensure they have sufficient funds to buy and/or rent books, pay their rent and have a decent quality of life during their studies.
A New and Fairer Lottery for Ontario
The existing lotteries in Ontario offer very poor odds and due to their bi-weekly or instant nature draw people into an addictive and often dangerously expensive habit.
Therefore an SPO government would create a Premium Bond Lottery as exists in the United Kingdom as part of the UK government’s National Savings and Investments scheme. As in the UK the government would promise to buy back the bond, on request, for its original price.
The government would pay a competitive rate of interest on the bond but instead of the interest being paid into individual accounts, it would be paid into a prize fund from which a monthly lottery would distribute tax-free prizes, or premiums, to those bond-holders whose numbers are selected randomly. The prizes would range from $25 to the top prize of $1,000,000, and the number of prizes would vary according to interest rates. Citizens would be able to purchase bonds at any time and they would need to be held for a full calendar month after the month of purchase. These bonds are eligible for the draw: their numbers are entered each month, with an equal chance of winning any prize, until the bond is cashed in.
Bonds would be purchased by $1 increments after the first $100, with a value of $1 per bond and a minimum purchase of 100 bonds.
This lottery would replace all other provincially run lotteries.
Our Socialist Commitment to International Solidarity
The Socialist Party of Ontario feels that the fight against poverty and injustice is a global problem and that a socialist government must seek to work in solidarity with people beyond its provincial or national borders.
Therefore an SPO government will, in addition to meeting the needs of Ontario, train and fund volunteer medical doctors and nurses to go around the world, following the example of Cuba, to assist other people in serious situations, and where feasible, in medical education.
Further, an SPO government will, as part of its campaign to eliminate unemployment, employ people to do whatever is helpful and consistent with the resources of Ontario in the fight against poverty, oppression and disease in other countries oppressed by capitalism. The assistance of the federal government will be sought in this fight. Costs associated with such help will be included in the itemized income tax statement received by each taxpayer.
Finally, an SPO government will, in cases of natural disaster in other parts of the world that do not have the resources to fully cope with the challenges faced, send immediate financial and other assistance in keeping with the nature of the disaster and the resources of Ontario, again noting the cost on the itemized income tax statement received by each taxpayer.
As adopted in Toronto, May 28th, 2011
As Modified in Peterborough, November 12th, 2011
Please note that this is, and always will be, an evolving document. We NEED your input as this is YOUR party. If you have any resolutions or policy planks or amendments to propose to this platform please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be posted for discussion and debate. As long as properly moved they will be voted on for inclusion at the next Policy Assembly prior to the election.
Please also note that resolutions were tabled for further discussion. These will be discussed at the next Executive meeting and put to the membership at the next General Convention.