Dan Zister's Responses to 2014 Provincial Election Questionnaire

On June 12, 2014, Halton voters will cast their ballot for local provincial election candidates. On behalf of Halton residents, Regional Chair Gary Carr has sent a letter and questionnaire to local candidates asking how they would resolve critical issues facing Halton.

The following are Dan Zister's responses to 2014 Provincial Election Questionnaire.

Dan Zister

Dan Zister
Wellington Halton Hills - Liberal
website (external link) 
dan@danzister.ca


  1. Halton Region requests that the Provincial Government provide predictable funding to keep Halton moving and deliver on committed projects through the Metrolinx Plan, The Big Move, including all day GO service to Milton and Georgetown, and the electrification of the Lakeshore GO line, to meet the transportation needs of our growing community. What will you and your government do to ensure that Halton’s Metrolinx projects are delivered within the next 5 years?

    The Ontario Liberal Party is committed to continuing to make commuting time faster for the residents of Halton in order for them to spend less time sitting in traffic. Our government has already invested more than $9 billion in GO transit. These investments have allowed the riding of Wellington-Halton Hills to see consistent train service and effective transit services.

    Our party has a $130 billion infrastructure and transportation plan that will create and sustain 220,000 jobs over 10 years. $15 billion of this plan will be dedicated specifically to GTHA transit without impacting our existing southern Ontario highways program.

    Unlike the NDP and PCs we have a fully defined plan for Ontario that includes:

    • Investing in GO Regional Express Rail, our plan for faster, zero emission, fully electric trains every 15 minutes on all lines over 10 years
    • A variety of investments in Bus Rapid Transit and Light Rail Transit to better connect municipal transit to GO Regional Express Rail
    • Continued unprecedented levels of investment in Ontario’s southern highways program to widen more highways and build new ones.
    • An investment in Canada’s first ever High Speed Rail system linking Union Station, Pearson Airport, Kitchener and South Western Ontario through London, and a commitment to work with VIA Rail and the federal government to expand it further.
    • A vision of border-to-border-to-border four lane highways to make them safer and to improve goods movement.

    And under our now permanent Gas Tax program the Ontario Liberals have committed over $2.7 billion in funding to Ontario municipalities to help fund local transit.

    Our Regional Express Rail will create results for the GTHA, which mimic what the subways did for Toronto in the 1950’s. These investments will also benefit those who do not use public transit. As congestion on our highways continues to be a real concern for the Halton region, these investments are crucial in order to prevent the issue from becoming worse. This is why I find it troubling that the opposition parties chose to vote down our budget thus affecting the residents of our region. Once fully implemented, our plan will take tens of thousands of daily car trips off the roads and highways across the province.

    It is also important to note that when the PCs were in power between 1999 and 2003, they contributed nothing to transit which in turn forced the municipalities to carry the burden. In this campaign, Tim Hudak has made it clear that his party would cut funding for LRT projects throughout the 905, and would not electrify the GO lines. This would make it more difficult and costly to improve service.

    Meanwhile, the NDP has flip-flopped on transit. One day they are advocating for electric trains and the next they do not support our plan of electrifying the entire GO rail system. They voted against our budget, which would have revolutionized transit for Halton residents. From their actions, we have no clue what the NDP stands for but they certainly are not in favour of improving commutes and transit.

    The Ontario Liberals have a detailed and effective plan that will ensure that Halton families spend more time together and less time commuting. Through this promise, we will continue to work with our municipal partners to ensure that our plan is implemented as quickly as possible.

  2. What will your government do to ensure that Halton’s growing communities have the necessary community infrastructure, such as schools and health care facilities, in place to keep pace with the growth?

    Our party stands for jobs, for growth and for keeping our recovery on course—we are working to create opportunity for all.

    We are continuing to make smart investments in infrastructure in order to improve the quality of life for people across the province and Halton. We have made unprecedented investments of nearly $100 billion to modernize public infrastructure since 2003. These investments have helped create jobs, support business and improve the everyday lives of our residents.

    Since 2003, our Liberal government has invested over $12 billion in improvements to our education infrastructure, which has helped provide students with the best schools to learn and grow, along with creating and sustaining an average of 16,000 jobs each year.

    Across the province, this has included close to 650 new schools, over 620 renovations, and 27,000 repair and renewal projects. We also helped make more than 2,600 publicly funded schools more energy-efficient.

    In terms of health care infrastructure, our government has invested more than $21 billion since 2003. Our provincial infrastructure investments in Ontario’s hospitals have supported nearly 26,000 jobs.

    As you may recall, when the Harris/Hudak PC government was in power, they closed 500 schools, fired 15,000 teachers and lost numerous teaching days due to strikes. With this in mind, Tim Hudak seems certain on going down the same path as before. His plan to fire 100,000 public sector workers would include 9,700 educational support workers and 9,000 teachers. Furthermore, when he served as junior Health Minister to Mike Harris, Tim Hudak fired 6,000 nurses, closed hospitals, and was responsible for Ontario having the worst surgical wait times in Canada. The cuts he is now proposing will once again threaten the progress our government has made.

    In addition to the progress our government has made, our plan includes $130 billion in infrastructure projects over the next 10 years — which will support over 100,000 jobs each year across the province.

    The Ontario Liberals will continue to make smart investments in infrastructure to improve the quality of life for people across the province today and build a more prosperous tomorrow.

  3. Halton’s school boards receive the lowest per capital funding in the Province and they have recently learned that their operating and capital costs are being cut. Being a growing region, particularly in Milton, Canada’s fastest growing community, funding is urgently needed and without it, we will not be able to keep up with the provincial mandated growth. What will you and your government do to increase Halton’s school board’s funding to enable them to meet their students’ needs?

    I along with my party am committed to helping our kids become lifelong learners - that’s why we’ve increased funding for education for the 10th straight year -- Funding for our education system is up 56% since 2003. As mentioned above, when the PCs were in power, they closed 500 schools, fired 15,000 teachers and lost countless days due to strikes. I, along with residents, find it very troubling that they are once again proposing to cut educational support workers and teachers – a move that would jeopardize the success we have achieved in our education system since 2003.

    Our party has invested $12 billion in school infrastructure since 2003, including nearly 650 new schools, over 620 additions and renovations, and 27,000 repair and renewal projects. Ontario has also helped make more than 2,600 publicly funded schools more energy efficient and we have hired 13,300 new teachers since 2003.

    We have also increased childcare funding the Regional Municipality of Halton to $30.7 million in 2014, a 171% increase from 2003. Our government invested $4 million in additional supports for math to ensure that teachers have the tools they need to help our students succeed. We also increased funding for our Summer Learning Program to $6 million to provide support for more elementary students who may be struggling in math and literacy.

    As a result of our dedication to improving Ontario’s education system, our graduation rates have increased from 68% in 2003 to 83% in 2013 – which is 138,000 more students that have graduated thanks to our student success strategies. Furthermore, 92% of students are meeting or exceeding international standards, regardless of socio-economic background or first language. Yet when the PC party was in government, only 54% of students were meeting the provincial standard.

    Our government is also committed to giving students with special education needs the support that they need to succeed. We are making changes to be even more responsive to those needs and to ensure that boards have the resources they need to deliver high quality programs to our most vulnerable students. Our investments in special education are part of our efforts to increase student success and close gaps in student achievement. For 2014-15, Halton will receive $85.5 million in special education funding, which is an increase of $6.1 million, or 7.6% over 2013-14 and $49.1 million or 135% since 2003.

  4. Will your government move forward with Niagara to GTA transportation corridor? If so, will you commit to voting against any option that impacts the Niagara Escarpment?

    I promise to vote against any option that will negatively impact the Niagara Escarpment.

    In 2005, the Ontario Liberals strengthened the Niagara Escarpment Plan by introducing the Greenbelt Act to provide permanent protection of the agricultural land base and the ecological features and functions occurring within the Niagara Escarpment.

    Sadly, Tim Hudak and his PCs do not seem to share the concerns of the citizens of our region when it comes to protecting the Escarpment. The PCs have promised to thoughtlessly pave a mega-highway through sensitive environmental lands in the escarpment.

    A new super highway would see millions of cars drive through our community every day, with little economic benefit to our local businesses. It could also make hundreds, possibly thousands, of homes and residents displaced.

  5. Halton Region requests funding sources that support the recovery and collection of growth related costs to ensure that Halton’s taxpayers do not bear the financial impacts of growth. What will your government do to ensure this?

    In order to build a prosperous and fair Ontario, we know that we need prosperous local communities. That’s why we have worked with our municipal partners to ensure they have the flexibility to address local needs without being burdened by costs.

    Our government has a strong record of supporting and working with municipalities. In 2014, the Province will provide municipalities with ongoing support of approximately $3.5 billion — an increase of more than 200 per cent over 2003. This will give municipalities room in their budgets to invest in local priorities and control property taxes.

    Across the province, we the Ontario Liberals have invested nearly $100 billion in infrastructure since 2003, which has supported an average of 100,000 jobs each year in construction-related industries. We have also introduced a new 10-year economic plan to invest over $130 billion in public infrastructure. Additionally, we will continue to focus our infrastructure expenditures on the most critical areas, such as transportation, health care and education, consistent with the government’s long-term infrastructure plan, Building Together.

    We are continuing to make smart investments in infrastructure to improve the quality of life for the people of our region. We have made investments of nearly $100 billion across the province to modernize public infrastructure since 2003. These investments have helped create jobs, support business and improve the everyday lives of people across Ontario.

    Our key accomplishments since 2003 include:

    • More than $19 billion to design, repair, and expand provincial highways and bridges across Ontario supporting more than 20,000 jobs across the province
    • Building or rebuilding more than 7,900 kilometres of highways and more than 950 bridges across Ontario

    In the near future, our plan includes $130 billion in infrastructure projects over the next 10 years—which will support over 100,000 jobs each year across the province.

  6. Changes to the Development Charges (DC) Act is necessary to recover growth costs, including: include all services funded by a municipality in the Act, remove the 10 per cent discount for all services, replace the 10 year advantage historic service limits with a service level that is forward looking, remove mandatory exemptions. Will your party amend the DC Act to ensure that taxpayers are not burdened with the costs of growth?

    I am willing to look at any proposals brought forward by Halton Region for the purpose of supporting growth in our region.

    Ontario Liberals understand the importance of ensuring that municipalities have the tools they need to fund local infrastructure improvements which are significantly needed to support growth. While the Development Charges Act helps local governments pay for capital costs required to serve new growth for services like roads, water, wastewater, transit and libraries, it does not allow municipal governments to levy development charges to pay for capital costs of hospitals.

    In regard to health care infrastructure, our government has invested more than $21 billion since 2003. We continue to build cutting-edge health infrastructure, with over 100 major health capital projects complete or underway, including 23 new hospitals, as well as $60 million more over the next three years in community health infrastructure, including Community Health Centres.

    Our government also has a strong record of supporting and working with municipalities. In 2014, the Province will provide municipalities with ongoing support of approximately $3.5 billion — an increase of more than 200% over 2003. This will give municipalities room in their budgets to invest in local priorities and control property taxes.

  7. Halton Region invests $26 million annually to provide assisted housing options for low income residents and we have had an increase of 894 in affordable/assisted housing units since 2007. What long term funding commitments will you and your government make to create real and affordable housing solutions in Halton?

    Real and affordable housing solutions are very important to me and our constituents. Since 2003, our government has helped improve the quality of life for those living on low and fixed incomes. Together with our municipal partners, we have made unprecedented investments that have resulted in thousands of new units built, and repairs to hundreds of thousands of units across Ontario.

    As part of our government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, we created the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy—the first of its kind in Ontario. That’s why since 2003, our government committed nearly $3 billion towards affordable housing – the largest investment in affordable housing in Ontario’s history.

    These investments are allowing for the creation of over 17,000 affordable rental housing units; funding more than 263,000 repairs and improvements to social and affordable housing units; and, providing rental and down payment assistance to over 81,000 households in need.

    We have also made significant investments in affordable housing in Halton region since 2003. The province has committed over $66.3 million in total assistance for affordable housing in Halton, and Halton families have seen the results:

    • 278 affordable rental units created
    • 20 affordable units repaired
    • 64 households received down payment assistance
    • 703 housing allowances and rent supplements have been allotted
    • 870 evictions have been prevented.

    Halton has also received planning allocations of $4.2 million under the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI) for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

    It is also important to note that we have also invested more in affordable housing than any previous government. This speaks to our commitment that, even during these challenging economic times, we have stayed the course.

    Prior to 2003, Ontario’s housing supply was put into a terrible state thanks to the PCs. They underfunded housing and cancelled the construction of 17,000 new units along with downloading the entire housing portfolio onto local governments without providing money to repair an aging system or to meet future demand. Similarly, the NDP voted against the 2009 stimulus package, which, through our partnership with the federal government, invested $1.2 billion in the affordable housing sector.

    The future of housing depends on sustained long-term funding that is fair and will help meet the needs of Ontario. We will continue to work with all levels of government to secure a long-term funding.

  8. What will you and you government do to deliver long-term, sustainable funding at the expected (agreed upon) levels of cost sharing for Public Health programs and Paramedic Services?

    Since 2003, our government has more than doubled public health funding in the province, allowing for increases in valuable programs like health promotion, illness prevention and screening.

    Across the province, we have hired 20,510 more nurses, created 25 nurse practitioner-led clinics that provide services to over 43,000 patients, increased long-term care funding by 81%, and increased long-term care home staff by 10,000.

    For example, there are 1,603 more nurses working in the Mississauga Halton LHIN than there were in 2005.

    When the PCs were in government, they cut spending which had negative implications for all Ontarians. They were responsible for firing doctors, nurses, and shutting down hospitals – resulting in massive delays. The Tories have also stopped funding EMS as part of their downloading of costs on to municipalities.

    Our government has demonstrated that we are dedicated to continually improving the efficiency and quality of our public health care system. We will continue to work with our municipal partners to ensure that our system is meeting the needs of the residents of Halton.

  9. Will you and your government commit to taking immediate action to address offloading delays and enhancements to the Central Ambulance Communications Centre (CACC) to ensure that Halton residents receive the level of Paramedic Services required to meet their needs? If so, how?

    Since 2003 our government has worked hard to rebuild our province’s public health system. To resolve EMS offload delays, we have started to upload land ambulance costs to achieve a true 50/50 cost-sharing with municipalities. We have also more than doubled annual land ambulance funding since 2003.

    Furthermore, our government has undertaken a number of hospital expansion projects that will lead to increases in bed capacity in Halton region.

    I am and always will be open to working with our municipal partners in order to improve our health care system for the residents of Halton and all of Ontario.

  10. Will you and your government honour the 2008 commitment to continue to the upload of social service and court costs until full implementation in 2018?

    In order to build a prosperous and fair Ontario, the Ontario Liberals along with myself believe that we need prosperous local communities. That is why our government has worked cooperatively with municipal partners to ensure they have the flexibility to address local needs without being burdened by costs.

    We have entered into landmark agreements with municipalities that have resulted in $2 billion in service costs uploaded off the back of municipal taxpayers. We have seen municipal support increase every year since 2003.

    It gives me great pleasure to also state that we remain committed to uploading $1.5 billion per year in social assistance and court security costs by 2018–agreed through the Provincial-Municipal Fiscal and Service Delivery Review. By 2018, when the uploading of costs are fully absorbed, we will have increased support by more than 270%.

    It is no surprise that our Ontario Liberals have a strong record of supporting and working with municipalities. Our government will provide municipalities with ongoing support of approximately $3.5 billion. This will give municipalities room in their budgets to invest in local priorities and control property taxes.

    When the PCs were in power, they put the onus of highways and services onto municipalities. Unfortunately, the types of cuts that the PCs are proposing in their platform would once again lead to additional costs or service cuts to municipalities.

  11. Are you willing to vote against your party’s platform on issues that negatively affect Halton Region?

    I am clearly and truly able to say that my commitment remains first and foremost to our community. I am running as a candidate in order to be an effective voice for the residents of Wellington-Halton Hills. Unlike our current incumbent, I refuse to be a stalemate member of the legislature who does not fully represent the interests of our community and the Halton region effectively. With this in mind, I must also admit that I stand as a candidate for the Ontario Liberal Party because I believe that the Ontario Liberals are the best party to serve the interests of the Halton Region and if this were not true, I would not be running as their candidate.