Sophia Aggelonitis, Candidate for Hamilton Mountain in Ontario Provincial Election 2011
Details page for this candidate.
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Candidate Details (top)
|Election||Ontario Provincial Election 2011|
|Party||Ontario Liberal Party|
|Bio||A proud Hamiltonian, Sophia Aggelonitis is a fighter for our city.
First elected MPP for Hamilton Mountain in 2007, Sophia has worked hard to bring jobs and new industry to Hamilton. As our MPP, she has secured major provincial investments to help our local hospitals and schools, including a new children’s treatment centre at McMaster Children's Hospital (Chedoke campus), full-day kindergarten, and the new Mohawk College Fennell Campus. She is a vocal advocate and promoter of Hamilton at Queen’s Park.
An entrepreneur and dedicated community volunteer, Sophia strongly believes that community can be strengthened through business. Combining her passions, she served on the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce for four years before being elected President in 2007. In addition to being an active member of the Hamilton AM Rotary Club, Sophia has been involved in a variety of community organizations, serving on the boards of Theatre Aquarius, Canadian Club of Hamilton, Phoenix Place and the Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice fundraising committee.
Sophia is currently Ontario’s Minister of Revenue and Minister Responsible for Seniors, and previously served as Minister of Consumer Services. She was also appointed by the Premier as Chair of the Restaurant and Hospitality Caucus and served as Chair of the Small Business Agency of Ontario.
The daughter of Greek immigrants, Sophia was raised in Welland and has been a proud resident of Hamilton since 1994.
Responses to Questions (top)
|Question||Brief Response||Full Response|
|In 2007, the Ontario Government promised two light rail lines in Hamilton. Will you fulfill that promise to build light rail in Hamilton? Why or why not?||Maybe||Ontario Liberals are committed to strong public transit systems throughout the province, including in Hamilton. That's why, after years of neglect by the PCs, we've invested more than $10.8 billion in public transit since 2003.
Ontario Liberals are committed to increasing GO train service to Hamilton and throughout the GTA, providing two-way, full-day service seven days a week and creating 68,000 jobs throughout Ontario. As the Premier said to The Spectator, this is an $800-million commitment to Hamilton.
Mayor Bratina worked closely with Ontario Liberals and made it clear that the city's first priority for transit in Hamilton is two-way full-day GO service. We have a great relationship with the Mayor and Council, and we heard them loud and clear when they passed the SMT 2011 Work Plan which calls for all-day GO service.
To bring in the new service, two new stations will be built in Hamilton - at James Street North and Confederation Station, creating about 8,000 local jobs during construction. New jobs will be created in construction, design and engineering because new tracks need to be put in to meet these new demands. This investment will also create demand for manufactured goods such as electrical equipment, steel and other products.
The last PC government recklessly gutted transit - and made a mess of GO Transit in particular. First, they downloaded GO to the municipalities, and then took it back after it strained local budgets. It was under the last NDP government that GO Transit's era of continuous growth was brought to a stop. The NDP also eliminated GO service to some cities and reduced many others to rush-hour-only service.
Now, the PCs have $14 billion in unfunded giveaways and tax cuts that would mean deep cuts to hospitals and schools. The NDP would introduce a crushing $9 billion in job killing taxes. Both would take Ontario off track at the worst time.
At the same time, LRT remains an important part of the discussion. Ontario Liberals provided $3 million for the city to undertake a Rapid Transit Feasibility Study. That study is ongoing and we look forward to its findings. Once the report is complete and city council arrives at a decision, we will work with the city to support Hamilton's priorities.
|Will you complete the job of uploading social services costs to the Province? Why or why not?||Yes||Ontario Liberals understand the importance of this commitment to our municipal partners. We're uploading $2.7 billion from municipalities, freeing up room in their budgets to invest in local priorities and control property taxes. Unlike the Hudak PCs, we'll honour our uploading commitments, because ultimately, there's only one taxpayer. We're uploading costs for seniors' drugs, court security, social assistance, public health, and public transit - with a plan to upload an additional $500 million between now and 2018.
When the Harris-Hudak PCs were in government, they downloaded $3 billion of costs onto municipalities - including child care, transit, housing, and public health - leading to higher property taxes and an infrastructure deficit.
Tim Hudak has a $14-billion hole in his platform. With this $14 billion in unfunded giveaways and tax cuts, we know that Hudak is planning to download costs again, pushing municipalities to the brink. He's already refused to commit to complete our download, meaning $500 million a year in new property taxes or service cuts.
We've invested $62 billion in infrastructure since 2003, with another $35 billion to come in the next three years, helping to fix sewers and water mains and improve recreation centres and arenas while creating hundreds of thousands of local jobs.
Here's what some of our municipal partners are saying:
"[Tim Hudak] was very clear. He is going to stop it... The uploading has to continue in a major way."
- Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, Toronto Star, Aug. 23
"If uploading stops, we will have higher property taxes,"
- Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, Toronto Star, Sept. 23
|Hamilton has a lot of available office space in the downtown. Will you move any departments to Hamilton to boost the local economy and save on rent costs? Why or why not?||Maybe||Ontario Liberals have worked in partnership with the City of Hamilton since 2003 to ensure Hamilton's continued economic growth and prosperity. Since 2003 Ontario Liberals have provided recurring, special one-time operating grants and have supported Hamilton-based projects such as Hamilton Health Sciences Centre, St Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton and McMaster University's new Wilson Building for Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences. More recently, we have partnered with Hamilton to provide funding in support of the Pan/Parapan American Games sporting infrastructure including for the Pan Am Hamilton Soccer Stadium (Ivor Wynne Stadium) and the Hamilton Velodrome. Ontario Liberals recently announced that we will be providing two-way full-day GO train service to a new Hamilton GO train station at James Street North in time for the Pan Am Games. We will also construct a second new GO train station in Stoney Creek at Confederation/Centennial Parkway by 2016-17.
At this time, we have no plans to relocate any additional Government of Ontario offices to Hamilton. Ontario Liberals are always open to hearing ideas that will support Hamilton and help save taxpayer dollars.
|Do you support completing the Mid-Peninsula Highway? Why or why not?||No||We are committed to a transit system that helps move people and goods quickly and efficiently while balancing the needs of different regions.
When it comes to the Niagara-to-GTA corridor, two environmental assessments (Niagara-GTA and GTA-West) were put in place to consider all modes of transportation (transit, roads and rail) for the area. Both studies offer short- and medium-term recommendations that address the existing transportation challenges in the GTA-Niagara corridor.
Ultimately, our focus is on an integrated transit system that achieves long-term economic prosperity and environmental sustainability.
|The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area has some of the worst traffic congestion in North America. What, if anything, will you do to alleviate the gridlock?||Yes||Ontario Liberals are the only party that can be trusted to invest in transit in order to reduce traffic congestion. Since 2003 we have invested $10.8 billion in transit in Ontario - the largest investment in 40 years.
Studies show that traffic congestion costs the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas $6 billion a year - and it could cost $15 billion a year if no one takes action. Currently Ontario Liberals are building major transit projects that will relieve congestion in the GTHA including the Air Rail Link from Union Station to Pearson Airport. We also continue to provide dedicated gas tax funding for transit to 120 municipalities - $1.9 billion since 2003 including almost $70 million to Hamilton, and $10.8 million to Hamilton last year alone.
Going forward, Ontario Liberals will implement two-way full-day GO train service on all seven GO rail corridors, creating 68,000 jobs. For Hamilton, we will build two new GO train stations (James Street North Station in Hamilton and Centennial/Confederation Station in Stoney Creek) and will provide two-way full-day service to the James Street North station in time for the Pan Am Games in 2015. This will create 8,000 jobs in the Hamilton region. As people in Hamilton work hard to attract new types of businesses and appeal to younger families, more frequent GO train service only adds to the great quality of life in this community.
The NDP record on transit is disappointing. They have consistently voted against funding for transit, including the Air Rail Link that will connect Pearson Airport to Union Station and our Budgets which have contained transit funding for the City of Hamilton. The NDP have played politics with the PCs, voting together 183 times, against new subways, against GO expansion and against the gas tax for transit. The NDP have no long-term plan for infrastructure and have provided no details in their platform about transit expansion. In fact, by forcing municipalities to freeze transit fares, this will effectively stall any hope of building more transit in Ontario.
The PC record on funding for transit is one of neglect. While the PCs were in power, they averaged less than $450 million a year in funding province-wide: in 2000 and 2001 they contributed only $40 million to transit for the entire province and, between 1999 and 2003, they downloaded GO Transit, leaving it up to municipalities to carry the weight. Going forward, the PCs will dilute funding for transit, allowing gas tax funding to be spent on non-transit transportation projects.
Ontario Liberals have a strong record of investing in transit and is the only party that can be trusted to invest in transit going forward.
|Hamilton has a large number of contaminated brownfield properties that present a risk for investors. What, if anything, will you do to make it easier to remediate brownfields?||Yes||Ontario Liberals are committed to helping brownfield redevelopment to both safeguard the health of Ontarians and provide economic opportunities. Brownfield redevelopment is about cleaning up old, contaminated industrial and commercial lands to make better use of existing infrastructure. It also curbs urban sprawl, eliminates environmental hazards, promotes sustainable communities, contributes to our priority of reducing toxics in soil, water and air, and supports our move to a new economy.
Eighteen months ago, we provided clear rules and efficient processes to accelerate the clean up of brownfields. We have enhanced environmental protection through clear site assessment requirements, updated standards and the introduction of a new streamlined risk assessment process. For many projects, this process provides cost relief by reducing red tape. The changes to the brownfield standards are based on current science to provide strong protection of human health and the environment.
We have been working very closely with stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition to these new rules that took effect on July 1, 2011.
Clearer rules on brownfields help to accelerate the clean up of contaminated sites and return brownfields to productive use. They provide an opportunity to redevelop significant brownfield sites through revitalization, which in turn stimulates community rejuvenation around these sites.
|Do you support term limits for municipal politicians? Why or why not?||No||The Municipal Elections Act (MEA) is reviewed after every municipal election and a review is currently underway. The review is done in consultation with a number of key municipal-sector partners, Elections Ontario and the public. Ontario Liberals do not believe in imposing rules governing the municipal sector without engaging in meaningful consultations. Should the municipal sector request term limits for those seeking office, we would consider their request as part of the MEA consultation.|
|Do you believe municipalities should have more powers to generate revenue? If so, what would you propose? If not, why not?||Maybe||The Municipal Act gives municipalities authority to raise revenue in a variety of ways, including property taxes and user fees. Other municipal source revenue mechanisms include: investment income, development charges (authority under the Development Charges Act), donations, revenue from other municipalities, and fines and penalties.
Ontario Liberals recognize that municipalities require tools to help them fund local infrastructure to service new growth. We are committed to uploading the costs that were forced on the backs of municipalities by the PCs. We are open to looking at any proposals brought forward by municipalities to generate revenue streams to fund new growth in their communities.