Ontario is on the cusp of a provincial election. It is one of a number of provincial and territorial elections that will be happening before the end of 2011, including Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Yukon, and Northwest Territories. In Ontario the Liberal party has had a majority in the province for the last 8 years. Before that the Conservative Party was in charge for just over 8 years and before that the NDP for just under 5. Polling for this election indicates a close race between the Liberals and Conservatives, with the possibility of a minority government.
Similar to my previous post on the federal election I feel that these elections will have an impact on your community. Provincial governments provide, support or influence a number of services including health care, education, welfare and intra-provincial transportation. The government will make important decisions about things like how electricity is generated, how our cities grow, how much university costs, and how our healthcare system works. They also have a lot of influence on municipal governments, deciding their areas of jurisdictions and which services or powers will be “uploaded” (responsibility shifted from municipal to provincial jurisdiction) or “downloaded” (responsibility shifted from provincial to municipal jurisdiction).
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario has been lobbying all parties to consider the current division of service delivery and seeking a funding model to make it easier for municipal governments to deliver front-line community services. In particular AMO determined a top 12 list of priorities and provides assessments of each of the mainstream parties’ platforms against these 12 priorities. This allows voters to assess where the parties stand on the services and investments that are made into their local government.
But municipalities are not the only part of our community that will be impacted by the election. A number of organizations aiming to improve the sustainability of our communities have launched campaigns to inform voters and garner the support of politicians. My two favourites are Sustain Ontario’s “Vote ON Food & Farming” and the Heart & Stoke Foundation’s “Healthy Candidates”. The Sustain Ontario campaign is to raise awareness around food and farming among both candidates and voters. It is focused on the positive impacts that a sustainable food system can have on the economic, health, environment, education and community well-being of Ontario. As well, it offers questions to ask candidates to find out more on where they stand on food and farming issues. The Heart & Stroke Foundation’s Health Candidate Campaign is focused on getting every candidate in Ontario to pledge to invest in health promotion. It makes it really easy to see which of your candidates has made the pledge (as seen below for my riding). As well as offers a tool on their website to encourage your candidates to sign up.
The point of this post is not to promote a particular party, but to encourage everyone heading to a provincial election this year to consider how that election will impact what is important to them in their community.