Toronto Disaster Relief Committee
HOPES: The Liberals have acknowledged the need to put significant money into new affordable housing. They're promising to match federal housing dollars committed in 2001 - $245 million. That could mean from 10,000 to 20,000 new units.
fears: That $245 million is merely a down payment. The actual order of new spending needs to be in the range of $900 million, which is what the Tories cut. The real challenge for McGuinty is to manage a province that's been devastated. Is he going to start pitting child care against housing against education and health care? Will he get all the community groups fighting against one another and then stand back and say nobody can get their act together? We're not going to allow them to play one group against another.
PROGNOSIS: After the jubilation of election night, the Liberals are going to have quite a bit of policy confusion. We'll get pretty clear indicators in the first day or two. If they batten down the hatches and start moaning about deficits and special interest groups, then we know we'll be in for a tough ride.
Physician, Medical Reform Group
HOPES: One of the things I like about what the Liberals are saying is that they are going to end the privatization of care delivery. They also promise they will provide the health care sector with long-term stable funding. And in public health, they recognize that the chief medical officer of health should be independent. I'm also happy to see that they are trying to address obesity. We have an epidemic in Canada.
fears: The Liberals haven't mentioned funding for public health. It should be 100 per cent funded by the province. There's no reason municipalities should have to pay out of property tax. I fear also that they haven't addressed the strong links between poverty and illness. High incomes have higher outcomes. We can't improve people's health until we get them out of poverty and give them a fair, decent income.
PROGNOSIS: I don't see the Liberals or any party with an articulated or detailed strategy for primary care needs (creation of 24-hour community clinics with nurses, doctors and other health aids). Lots of reports go back 40 years on primary care reform. We need a government that will have the courage to implement rather than just issue more reports. DAVE MARTIN
Nuclear policy adviser,
Sierra Club of Canada
HOPES: The Liberals are committed to phasing out coal plants by 2007. And they are committed to a renewable energy standard that will regulate how much green energy all producers have to have as part of their overall portfolio: 5 per cent by 2007, 10 per cent by 2010.
fears: McGuinty said he wouldn't rule out building new nuclear plants. Then he retracted that. He personally supports the restart of the two reactors at Bruce A. And I believe the Liberals support the restart of Pickering A. I'm disappointed they are supporting restarting old, dangerous reactors. I would hope a new government would take a new look at the long-term management of radioactive waste. The nuclear industry wants to just dig a hole.
PROGNOSIS: If the government had fewer reactors to worry about, they could concentrate on making them safer. Frankly, I'm not sure they have the resources or the motivation. I'm not encouraged by McGuinty's blind support of nuclear power. Jim Bradley, if he is appointed energy minister, has the integrity and courage to get a grip on the Ontario Power Corporation.
ANNIE KIDDER People for Education
HOPES: For a long time there's been a real polarization in the discussion about education - always a debate as opposed to a discussion. I hope we can move beyond that.
fears: Something that hasn't been talked about during the election campaign is the urgent need to do something for immigrant kids from poor families in urban schools. It's more than just funding - it has to do with clearly assessing what the special needs of cities are. Queens University predicts that the dropout rate is going to increase dramatically. There's a group of students who would have been in the general or basic level, but there's no stream for them now, and they're not able to get enough credits to get into apprenticeship programs. The graduation rate is going to start declining again. To solve this problem will take more than capping class size.
PROGNOSIS: It's important that when the new government comes in nobody says, "Let's change everything,' because parents and students have had too much change already.