September 8 1999
September marks the end of a very eventful summer in Ottawa Centre, and the beginning of another school year as students head back to the classrooms. As the leaves begin to turn and the days start getting shorter, I look back on a summer well spent in the constituency. Not only did we celebrate the diversity of Ottawa with wonderful events such as the Tulip Festival, Italian Week, the Hellenic Festival, Bluesfest, the Jazz and Busker Festivals, and many more but on a smaller scale many of us took the opportunity to spend time with family and friends.
At the provincial level, one of the most significant issues this summer has been the extremely long waiting times required for G2 road tests in the Graduated Licensing Program. As it stands now, someone booking here in Ottawa can expect to wait until February 2000 before landing a road test with the Ministry of Transportation (in Peterborough, the waiting list extends to September of 2000!) As you can appreciate, these long delays are affecting people of all ages who require their licence for basic employment and mobility purposes. Even worse, those who are unable to take their road test before the deadline assigned to them from the preliminary stage, will have to begin the process from scratch, which means repaying basic fees.
The government has indicated that it plans to hire a number of examiners, and to shorten the actual test by 10 minutes. Many observers feel that these measures will not be sufficient to fix the problem and caution that the test is being compromised. Both myself and my Liberal colleagues are calling on the new Minister of Transport to immediately take the necessary steps to clear the backlog and restore confidence in the new graduated licensing system.
You can expect the Legislature to reconvene early next month at which point I will return to Queen's Park in my capacity as your representative. It will be interesting to see what the Harris government has on the agenda for the next session. With regards to what takes place at Queen's Park, you can expect me to keep you informed in the coming months. I will be focusing my attention on children's and human rights issues as those will be my new Opposition critic's roles. Education issues will continue to dominate my attention in Ottawa Centre, the two major issues being school closures and special education, which I will address in future columns.
I would be pleased to hear about your concerns regarding provincial matters and encourage you to contact me with your views.
1292 Wellington St.
Ottawa, ON K1Y 3A9
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