Waterloo region's startups highlighted in NDP's southwestern Ontario platform

The NDP have launched a southwestern Ontario platform and named startups in Waterloo region as an area that needs help in order to succeed.

'We are certainly not doing a very good job right now in supporting startups in Ontario,' Fife says

The NDP launched its southwestern Ontario platform Tuesday. In downtown Kitchener, Waterloo candidate Catherine Fife (second from right) was joined by other local candidates including (from left), Agnieszka Mlynarz of Guelph, Fitzroy Vanderpool of Kitchener South-Hespeler, Marjorie Knight of Cambridge and Laura Mae Lindo of Kitchener Centre. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Supporting startups and transit in Waterloo region were among highlights of a new platform released by the Ontario NDP on Tuesday.

The southwestern Ontario platform lays out a number of issues, including healthcare, protecting farmland, education, manufacturing and the environment.

All the candidates for Waterloo region and Guelph gathered at the office of candidate Laura Mae Lindo Tuesday to announce the platform.

Having startups mentioned specifically was important to the local candidates, Waterloo NDP candidate Catherine Fife said.

"Everyone likes to look to Waterloo region and claim responsibility for it," Fife said. But she said the companies have largely been successful because of their own hard work, not because of any help from the province.

"We are certainly not doing a very good job right now in supporting startups in Ontario, but they're very resilient," she said. "They're looking for a partner, and the NDP is that partner."

Specifically, Fife noted the party plans to make an effort to purchase 33 per cent of goods and services from small and scaling businesses.

'They want a platform'

Meanwhile, at a campaign stop in London, Horwath said the party will end "hallway medicine" and stop school closures.

"The fact is, we don't have to settle for a premier that keeps cutting services and making life less affordable. We can do something completely different," Horwath said.

Similar events were held in Windsor, Sarnia and the Niagara region.

Fife said the NDP provide the chance for real change in Waterloo region.

"I think it's very clear that the Liberals spend a lot of time here, but they haven't delivered for 15 years," she said, saying specifically the Liberals have not provided enough funding for affordable housing and the 2014 promise to have all-day, two-way GO trains between Kitchener and Toronto has yet to materialize.

"They claim to understand. They make promises. They put shovels in the ground and take a photo op or cut a ribbon, but they're not very good about acting and following up on those promises," Fife said.

Earlier this month, Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford promised the light rail transit project in Waterloo region "will move forward." Fife noted Phase One of the project is nearly complete.

"You have a leader of the PC party who is very clearly confused about the transit in the province of Ontario and the way that legislation is actually created," she said.

"He's going to come in here and give us bumper stickers. The people of this region, they want a platform, and they want to see it fully costed."