QUEEN'S PARK — MPPs Jill Andrew (Toronto - St.Paul's) and Joel Harden (Ottawa Centre) held a press conference on the importance of funding public transit over public-private partnership (P3) projects like the overdue and overbudget Eglinton Crosstown and Ottawa Light Rail Transit (LRT), after hearing from their constituents at a transit town hall last week.
“In both Ottawa and Toronto, transit service cuts are happening due to massive cost overruns in expensive P3 projects”, said Harden. “Stage 1 of Ottawa's LRT is a complete mess, and the Eglinton-Crosstown LRT is years behind schedule and a billion dollars over budget. Repeating the same approach towards other transit systems and hoping for different results makes no sense at all”.
Harden and Andrew's call comes as Metrolinx CEO, Phil Verster, is set to present the agency's vision of transit expansion. Since coming to power, Doug Ford's government has increasingly pushed a P3 agenda through Metrolinx.
"Why does Premier Ford think throwing money at failing P3 transit projects is a good idea?", asks Andrew. "While the Eglinton - Crosstown LRT is 2 years late and a billion dollars over budget, how many more Black-owned or women entrepreneur small businesses in Little Jamaica and Midtown must be forced to close due to the Ford government's poor planning and broken promises?"
In light of these projects, the Ontario NDP is renewing the call for the province to return to the practice of 50/50 funding for public transit operations. Bold and innovative changes are needed to address the crisis in transit.
"Doug Ford has a choice," said Harden, who serves as the Official Opposition Transit critic. "He can put blind faith in failing P3 financiers and private consultants, or he can fund the hard-working people who make transit happen in our cities. Service cuts in transit are happening in Toronto and Ottawa; only funding from Ontario can fix that."
MPPs Andrew and Harden will be joined by Marvin Alfred, President of ATU 113 (representing 12,000 TTC workers), and Dane Williams, Co-Founder and Director of Partnerships at Black Urbanism Toronto.