RNAO talks dedicated transit funding with provincial parties
On May 9, 2014 the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) sent a set of 13 questions on health and nursing policy to the four Ontario political party leaders. Three parties have responded to date, and their full responses may be found here. Any further response will be posted when received. One question asked by RNAO was on funding transit and active transportation. The question and the responses are posted below, in the order in which they were received.
Do you support creation of a dedicated fund with new revenue sources to pay for a substantial expansion of transit and active transportation? Do you support devotion of a kick-start fund for an immediate, visible improvement in transit, as recommended in the Golden panel report?
Yes, the GPO supports the creation of a dedicated fund for public transit. The GPO will ensure that Ontario establishes a dedicated transit fund – one that cannot be wasted on other pursuits – to build new transit and support the operation of existing transit.
The GPO will work to implement dedicated revenue tools that are fair and progressive, such as land value capture, congestion charges, gas taxes and parking fees, to raise $3 billion a year to build and operate transit in communities across Ontario.
The Ontario NDP will create a dedicated fund for immediate transit improvements with revenue to pay for priority transit expansion across Ontario. We support kick-starting transit relief by boosting transit investment by $250 million annually; prioritizing projects to get shovels in the ground, and helping municipalities across the province by restoring funding for the Ontario Bus Replacement Program that Kathleen Wynne cut as Transportation Minister. We also support the Golden Report’s recommendation to implement a modest rollback in the Liberals’ corporate tax cuts to help fund transit investments.
Yes. The 2014-15 Liberal Budget commits to a $29 billion dedicated transit fund which identified new revenue sources to continue our work on the largest transit expansion initiative in Ontario’s history.
Key to the expansion is an immediate start to electrifying the GO rail system to deliver 15-minute service on all GO trains, making it easier and more cost-effective for residents to take transit across the GTHA and taking more car trips off our roads. An electrified GO train system has the added benefit of taking diesel trains off the tracks, resulting in significant health and environmental benefits for our communities.
The Liberal “Big Move” plan includes significant investments in municipal and regional transit projects, for example, Brampton’s Zum system and the Durham Pulse bus lines. Liberals will continue to invest in municipal transit initiatives.
The GTHA Chief Medical Officers of Health state that the annual costs of physical inactivity and obesity in the GTHA are now $4 billion, including $1.4 billion in direct medical costs.
In their words, implementing Metrolinx’s Big Move with modest increases in walking and cycling would increase physical activity and reduce traffic emissions, “preventing over 330 premature deaths per year ($2.2 billion), over 1,000 cases of diabetes per year, and over 90 hospitalizations a year. Numerous additional health benefits would also be expected.”
Liberals are the first – and only party – to make active transportation a central focus of transit and transportation planning. Liberals introduced Ontario’s first cycling strategy, #CycleON, in August, 2013. Within the first set of priorities, Liberals committed to “partner with municipalities to implement complete streets policies and develop cycling or active transportation plans as applicable