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Provincial Conservative Candidate Jeff Yurek
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Provincial Conservative Candidate Jeff Yurek

June 3, 2014: With voting day for the Ontario Provincial Election looming on the near horizon, let's take a look at Elgin-Middlesex-London riding Conservative Candidate Jeff Yurek, to get a feel for him and exactly what his party is proposing.

"Why do you want this job"? I asked him today in an interview. "A lot of people are wondering why you want this job when you already have a successful business in Yurek Pharmacy."

"I want to make Ontario a better place to live. Government has been over-regulating and over-spending for years," Yurek responded, "and I'm afraid that if that is left unchecked it will result in lost opportunities for my daughter's generation." Yurek has a 10 year old daughter. "As well, I have some unfinished business with Ryan's Law; I want to get that passed." [Ryan's Law Passes Second Reading]

"A lot of people have expressed real and genuine concern over Tim Hudak as your Party leader and are extremely reluctant to support a Party with him at the helm. When Mike Harris stepped in to lend Hudak his support, people got really worried about Hudak at the helm of the province. What kind of controls can your Party exercise over what Hudak does if the Conservatives get elected?"

"Hudak is not a dictator," Yurek responded. "Unfortunately Tim does not come across well in the media; but he will be surrounded by his Caucus and the members of that Caucus will follow the Conservative plan [as laid out in the published Conservative Party Platform for this election]. Voters need to look at the plan the Conservatives have put out there to voters."

Job Creation

"Your platform says you have a plan to create jobs, but laying off 100,000 public sector workers seems an odd way to start. Presumably you did not just pull that number out of a hat and know exactly where and in what ministries you will cut those jobs."

"We plan to reduce the public service staffing to 2009 levels. Over the last ten years the civil service has increased by over 300,000 persons. The Liberal government has created many levels of bureaucracy and boards. The majority of these reductions will be accomplished through attrition and retirement of medium to high level managers. We are not focusing on front line workers," Yurek explained. "We would be targeting the higher levels, the levels which normally never get touched." Yurek said these levels are where all the money goes and this kind of targeting will free up funds for more and better front line services.

A recent study commissioned by the Ford Motor Co. says that 5 million jobs will be returning to North America because of high shipping and cost-of-doing-business bribery costs associated with producing goods in China. The Conservatives want to attract high-tech, high-skills manufacturing to Ontario by creating an environment attractive to business. Part of that plan is to make energy rates for businesses affordable (though Yurek did not say how the Conservatives plan to do that), and to lower the business taxes from 11.5% to 8%.

"If you lower the business taxes, how will you make up that lost revenue?" I asked him. Yurek explained they would fund the tax reduction by putting an end to corporate handouts to a few select corporations. He said the lower tax rate is for everyone and makes business more competitive. He did not specify which corporations the Conservatives list as receiving government subsidies.

Electricity Rates

"Concern has been expressed that Hudak plans to dismantle Hydro One and Power Gen - the Ontario hydro production and transmission system. If you do that, how will the province get its power?"

"We have no plans to dismantle either one of those companies," Yurek said, " but oddly enough, the NDP does and they plan to go back to the old Ontario Hydro system. We plan to make some changes at the top management levels of these corporations - like I said earlier - because that is where we have identified all of the expensive waste, but the front line workers will not be impacted at all. Their jobs are quite safe; after all, we all need and depend on our electricity. Where would we be without it?"

Balancing the Budget

Yurek said the Conservatives also want to strengthen health and education in the province by balancing the budget. "We are currently paying $11 billion per year in interest payments on our debt." To balance the budget the Conservatives plan to reduce the size of Cabinet from 26 to 16 ministers, reduce the size of the public service back to 2009 levels, impose a wage freeze for 2 years on the public sector including the Legislature, and generate more revenues from attracting more businesses to Ontario. They are not cutting any ministries or any front line workers.

Health Care

The Conservatives want to put an end to LIHNS and put that money into home care and long term care, hiring more nurses, PSWs, and doctors. They also want to create chronic care hospitals (re-designating some current hospital facilities) for diabetes, Alzheimers, heart and stroke.

They also want to make mental health a priority, as important as physical health. When that came up, I asked about the current complaint regarding patients at the new forensic mental health facility on Sunset Drive smoking at the road's edge. Yurek said he'd asked St. Joseph's Hospital (who run this facility) to designate an on-property smoking area but the Minister of Health said it was up to the hospital administrator and that administrator refused. "We need a new Minister of Health, one who would make the hospital administrator act," Yurek said.

"These patients broke the criminal law and were sentenced to this facility for mental health reasons, instead of jail. If they are allowed to freely mingle with the general public by smoking at the road's edge, and presumably wandering off if they feel like it, who then takes responsibility to ensure the public safety?" I asked Yurek. Yurek thought that hospital staff probably designated who was a risk for violent behaviour and who wasn't, and let only the non-violent ones were out there smoking.

"What if the hospital staff get it wrong?" I asked him. Yurek made a note to look into what safeguards are in place.

Education

The Conservative plan to strengthen education includes creating designated math teachers for Grades 4, 5, & 6, just like we now have designated French and music teachers. They also intend to introduce financial literacy throughout the schools, so that all students will acquire real life skills for understanding and working with things like mortgages, loans, investments and RSPs. As well, extra funding will be provided to schools that are not doing well in the testing results, and every child with a special need will get the attention they need. "We are not laying off education assistants," Yurek stated.

The Conservatives also plan to end the College of Trades and return to the previous system which relied on government inspectors.

"So who will be the oversight for government inspectors?" I asked. "I live in a condominium complex that has been riddled with problems because of the failure and oversights of government inspectors."

Yurek said the skilled trades oversight will be done jointly by the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry Colleges & Universities, and that it will be a much tighter oversight. The Conservatives are not planning on touching any safety inspectors for health, water, meat, food or the environment. The oversight for those will continue as it has been by the appropriate ministries.

Editor's Note: The views expressed above are those of Jeff Yurek and the Conservative Party. The Liberal Party does not agree with Hudak's math in calculating the numbers and the promises made. Liberal Candidate Serge Lavoie


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