May 30, 2014 1:07 pm

NDP pledges extra $15M annually for school nutrition programs in Ontario

TORONTO – The New Democrats have promised to funnel an extra $15 million annually into Ontario’s school nutrition programs, saying the commitment is an example of how they prioritize measures that make a difference in people’s lives.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath attacked the Liberal government as she made in pledge Friday outside a school in a Toronto riding the NDP hopes to retain in the June 12 election.

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“For too long now we’ve seen the Liberal government waste our money on CEO salaries, which are sky rocketing in the public sector, on the Ornge air ambulance scandal, eHealth scandal, the gas plant scandal, that is not where we should be putting the tax dollars in this province,” she said.

“We should be investing our tax dollars in the kinds of things that make a difference in people’s lives. The kinds of things that, for example, help our children be able to succeed. That’s why we’re announcing this program.”

Horwath has taken every opportunity to hammer away at the Liberals over the course of the campaign in trying to style herself as a fresh alternative to what she has called a wasteful and corrupt government.

She has, however, been criticized for putting forward a platform with many measures that are similar to what Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals are offering in their bid for re-election.

In Depth: Ontario Election 2014

On student nutrition for instance, the Liberals have promised extra funding for the province’s programs as well, saying they’ll be expanded to 340 more schools for an extra 56,000 students.

The NDP pointed out, however, that Liberal funding for healthy classroom meals has remained static for five years.

If elected, New Democrats would add $15 million every year to school nutrition programs in Ontario, which currently receive $20.9 million from the province, campaign staff said.

Their plan – which will use local food programs – will help 70,000 more children have a good breakfast when they come to school, Horwath said.

Read More: What you may have missed in the NDP’s platform

“We have a situation where we have too many kids in this province who are going to school hungry and teachers tell me that a lot of kids are distracted, they’re unfocused,” she said.

“We know very clearly that children do better when they have had a meal, they are able to focus better … what we want for our children is to give them the best opportunities in life.”

Horwath also said a New Democrat government would engage in “respectful discussions” with teachers when it came to bargaining with education workers.

© The Canadian Press, 2014

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