Former Ajax Mayor Steve Parish will run as Town’s NDP candidate in June election

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Published January 11, 2022 at 1:51 pm

Former Ajax Mayor Steve Parish (centre) has apologized for the naming of a street after a Nazi officer in 2007.

The New Democratic Party has tapped Steve Parish, who served as Mayor of Ajax for 23 years, to challenge incumbent Progressive Conservative Long-Term Care Minister Rod Phillips for the Ajax seat in June’s 2022 Provincial election.

Parish was elected Mayor of Ajax in 1995, serving until 2018 when he left the public eye. “After seven terms, 23 years and an entire generation, I’ve decided not to seek re-election.”

Parish spent time in retirement with his three children and four grandchildren, but it wouldn’t last long.

“I’ve been around for a while. I don’t need to come out of retirement and do this, but I think we’re at a crossroads here. Not just because of the pandemic, but because what the pandemic has focused on in terms of how we’re falling short in terms of education, in terms of health care.”

“We’re not going in a good direction and it needs to change,” he added. Parish is a long-time social-issue champion but says he’s only been a card-carrying member of the NDP “for a few months.”

Parish cited protections for the Carruther’s Creek headwaters, COVID-19 in schools and a “crisis” in Long Term Care as his major priorities for running.

Carruther’s Creek has long been a hot(creek)bed of controversy around potential development in the area. Studies, like that by Carruthers Creek Watershed Plan, indicate developing the area could result in up 113 per cent more flooding in Ajax.

The NDP called for Carruthers Creek to be added to the Greenbelt in October, and were soon joined by every other provincial party and several local Ajax leaders, amid moves from Pickering to nominate the area for the new Lakeridge Health hospital, later announced to go to Whitby.

“That for me was the tipping point,” said Parish on why he chose to run for the NDP, “That’s where I said ‘ok. That’s the leader I want to follow That’s the party that identifies the issues that are important to me and will do something about it.”

Phillips joined the chorus two weeks later, reiterating a 2018 campaign support for protecting the headwaters. The area remains unprotected by the Greenbelt after Philip’s 2018-2019 tenure as Environment Minister, while other areas of Durham were later added.

“Rod Phillips on this has been promises and not delivery,” Parish said, “This is the guy who said he was in the basement of his house by the fire and a gingerbread house, when he was really down in St. Bart’s while the rest of us were locked down.”

Phillips, who Finance Minister in Christmas 2020, resigned his cabinet position when his vacation was made public. He was re-appointed to cabinet as Minister of Long Term Care six months later.

A month prior to Phillip’s appointment the Canadian Armed Forces, called in to support five LTC homes including Pickering’s Orchard Villa during the early stages of the pandemic, released a  damning report detailing dire conditions such as poor care resulting in premature death, lack of infection control and unsanitary conditions, including homes with cockroach infestations.

Orchard Villa lost 85 patients during this period, which Parish called a “humanitarian disaster.” Orchard Villa is up for a 30-year licence renewal from the province and funding for a new building with 87 beds. Oshawa NDP MPP Jennifer French characterized this move as rewarding Orchard Villa “in the wake of a terrible, ongoing nightmare.”

The move comes amid a rapid expansion in long-term care beds from Philips and the Ford government. They will be pouring 6.4 billion dollars into long term care facilities, many privately run, for 20,385 new and 15,918 upgraded beds across the province.

Ajax will take 636 of those new beds including 192 in a new Schlegel Village facility set to begin construction in the Spring of 2023.

The next installment of the current government’s investment in LTC bed is scheduled for the 2024-25 fiscal year, toward the end of a possible second Ford term.

Parish and NDP leader Andrea Horwath say working together to address these issues is paramount to their campaign. “Steve has been there for the people of Ajax for decades, and I am absolutely thrilled that he’s bringing his experience, advocacy and community leadership to the NDP team,” Howarth said. “Steve is Ajax to the core — he knows exactly what’s making life tougher for Ajax families.”

The 2022 Ontario election is scheduled for June 2.

 

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