QUEEN’S PARK) – It took four months and a direct request through the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, but Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark finally has an answer to his question about what the government is doing to help non-profit organizations with the cost of mandatory drinking water tests.
And that answer is nothing.
“I was shocked that after putting my question to the government back in October, the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care’s response basically just recited the ministry’s testing requirements,” said Clark. “I’m well aware of what non-profits like Legion branches and churches in my riding must do. That’s why I’ve tabled on three occasions a motion designed to eliminate the hundreds of dollars a month this is costing them.”
Rather than report what they’ve done since Clark first tabled his motion in April 2014, the minister said only that the ministry is “committed to working with public health units to facilitate innovative solutions.”
“They had three years to do something and four months to detail what they’re doing in response to my question – this is completely unacceptable,” said Clark.
The MPP filed his Order Paper Question asking for an update from the minister on October 24, 2016. Under the Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly, the minister has 24 sitting days to provide a response.
“I know the non-profits that have asked me to press the government for relief will be disappointed by the lack of action from the government on this issue,” said Clark. “The fact they ignored my question until I raised it with the Speaker doesn’t provide me with any confidence that they’re taking this seriously.”
Clark noted it’s more urgent than ever to eliminate the cost to non-profits of having water tested at private laboratories, given the staggering hydro bills they’re getting every month.
“I’m worried that for many of these groups, these additional costs are becoming too much to bear,” said Clark. “They need action from the government to give them some relief so they can continue doing their tremendous work in the community.”
Clark tabled his motion for the third time last September after it died on the Order Paper when Premier Wynne prorogued the Legislature.
The motion calls on the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to investigate options to remove the cost of testing from non-profits, including the potential to have the tests done cost-free at public health laboratories.
“It doesn’t remove the requirement to ensure drinking water is tested, it just eliminates the cost burden from these invaluable organizations and their hard-working volunteers,” explained Clark.
The motion has received strong support from the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Board of Health and the Royal Canadian Legion Zone G-2, which represents all branches in Leeds-Grenville.