1. Many rural communities face demographic challenges which are even more acute than for Ontario society as a whole. What does your party intend to do to strengthen or add economic development initiatives and programs so that rural communities can be supported to take action to attract and retain their youth?
2. Does your party platform include any measures that would support communities looking to boost their labour force and attract the skilled and talented workers necessary for their future success?
3 Educational attainment levels in rural communities tend to be lower than in urban areas. Access to educational opportunities and skills training closer to home are important for rural citizens. Does your party have a strategy for increasing access to training for those in rural communities?
4. Does your party platform indicate where you stand on the importance of maintaining rural schools when enrolment figures are declining or stable?
Economic and Infrastructure
5. Different regions of the province have different economic strengths and also some can be very dependent on particular sectors of the economy. Many rural, and especially northern, leaders are looking for ways to diversify their economies so that they are more resilient when key sectors are performing poorly. What will your party do to help achieve a more diversified economy across all regions of the province?
6. Many rural Ontarians own or run independent small businesses and small business growth is responsible for a high proportion of long term growth in employment. Employment opportunities are needed everywhere. Would your party take an approach that ensures communities with more severe unemployment problems get more support? Do your plans include support for youth entrepreneurship, beginning farmers and for small business?
7. Following years of government support broadband access has improved across much of rural Ontario. Nevertheless, access continues to be a problem in some pockets and improvements in bandwidth and download speed are still warranted for business and service provision purposes. Would your party continue funding investments in rural broadband infrastructure?
8. The dollars available for municipalities in application based infrastructure programs from senior government are dwindling. Would your party support a “new deal” for municipalities so they can have stable, long-term certainty on provincial cost-sharing levels to ensure their own long-term capital planning and be fiscally prudent?
9. Agriculture and farm operations contribute significantly to the rural and provincial economy.
a. Does your party believe that provincial land use planning policies do enough to protect farmland and that they strike an appropriate balance for allowing non-farm uses that contribute to the economic livelihood of farmers?
b. Does your party support local food buying policies in the institutional MUSH sector?
10. Significant “strategic” vegetable and fruit processing plants in Ontario have been shut down by multi-national food companies in the last several years – what is your position on the provincial role in ensuring food security?
11. Given rising energy prices and the long distances in rural and remote places does your party have ideas about how rural communities can overcome transportation challenges – how will you take action to support the implementation of solutions?
12. The vitality of their downtown is of concern to many small communities – what approach do you think works best for keeping healthy, vibrant downtowns and what role should the provincial government play?
Society and Health
13. Health care spending has been taking up an increasing proportion of the Ontario budget. Health outcomes are poorer in rural and remote areas.
a. The recruitment of health care professionals and/or the training of rural youth for rural health care roles is an important ongoing activity. Will your party increase support for these programs?
b. Rural hospitals are facing potentially significant challenges as specialist services continue to be regionalized and centralized. Does your party have a clear policy on what core services should remain in rural hospitals?
c. Does your party support the distance/drive time to care guidelines recommended by the Panel on Northern and Rural Health Care?
d. Innovative delivery of services is already an important part of the solution for rural and northern health care. Also, rural Ontario has an older demographic than urban Ontario and therefore needs new approaches sooner. How would your party go about promoting innovations throughout the system, but particularly in long term care, aging at home programs, or use of nurse practitioners or Community Health Centres for addressing higher rural needs?
e. Rural lifestyles, poverty and isolation are all part of the reason for poorer rural health care outcomes. What new approaches would you suggest the province take to make health promotion and prevention more successful?
14. How would your party go about ensuring appropriate First Nations development, their engagement in natural resource development projects and the creation of healthy communities for the aboriginal members of society?
15. Poverty and affordable housing issues are often less noticeable in rural communities. What policies would you establish to deal with these concerns?
16. Often rural municipalities with a limited tax base enter into long term partnerships with local organizations and volunteers to offer a more complete range of range of programs and services than would otherwise be possible. Volunteer firefighters are just one example. With an aging society and a general decline in volunteerism many rural communities struggle when service clubs, non-profit organizations and faith communities are not able to do what they used to do. This affects a broad swath of community life, encompassing recreation, arts and culture, or health services. The demand for good rural civil society leadership exceeds supply. Do you believe that organizations from the non-profit sector need provincial government support or assistance so they can stay healthy and innovate? How would you change the status quo to strengthen the contributions the non-profit sector can make in rural communities? Would you support implementation of new provincial financial policies, or enabling legislation for the charitable and non-profit sector and/or community bonds?
17. Environmental sustainability presents a complex critical challenge for urban and rural society alike, involving energy use, conflicts over resource use, climate change, loss of biodiversity, invasive species, water quality and waste management. In part the solutions for many of these critical issues relate to how we care for, conserve or enhance the ecosystems and resources in our rural and remote areas.
a. How high a priority are environmental matters for your party?
b. In what ways would your party support energy conservation/reduction of consumption?
c. Do you believe local governments or adjacent property owners should have a say in the location of wind energy projects?
d. What have we learned from the implementation of the Green Energy Act and what would your party do differently now? Would your party continue to invest in solar energy projects?
e. What kinds of policies/programs would you bring in to encourage private landowners to practice good stewardship or to financially reward and recognize rural property owners for maintaining an ecosystem that produces ecological goods and services that benefits all of society?
f. Does your party believe that the Greenbelt policies have been effective? Would your party tighten or loosen its provisions? Extend its boundaries or reduce it?
g. Are you concerned about long term changes in water supply, or the adequacy of our storm water management systems due to climate change? Would you continue to follow the Source Water Protection Act process? Do you think conservation authorities are adequately resourced to do what is being asked of them?
h. Is the Species at Risk program sufficient to protect endangered or threatened species in Ontario? Do you think it’s working, or if it’s broken, how would you propose to fix it?
18. Ontario citizens want their governments to work together to ensure that their needs and priorities are addressed. What specific actions would you take to ensure that local, provincial, federal collaboration is more efficient and effective? Would your party support the implementation of a coordinated, cross-ministry rural strategy?
19. What does your party believe are the top three most important issues that affect rural Ontario and what actions would you take concerning them?
Questions of Importance to Small Town and Rural Ontario Final.pdf (88.26 kb)
Please see the following response from Premier McGuinty's Office:
LetterfromPremierMcGuinty.pdf (553.82 kb)