Premier Kathleen Wynne defends Walkerton warning

Premier Kathleen Wynne makes a campaign speech at the West Park Healthcare Centr on Friday. (CRAIG...

Premier Kathleen Wynne makes a campaign speech at the West Park Healthcare Centr on Friday. (CRAIG ROBERTSON/QMI Agency)

Maryam Shah, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:09 PM ET

TORONTO — Ontario Liberal Party Leader Kathleen Wynne defended her decision to go to Walkerton, Ont., despite criticisms that she exploited the tragic deaths of seven people for political purposes.

Wynne went to Walkerton on Thursday to issue a warning that PC Leader Tim Hudak's proposed staff reductions to the civil service "would have consequences."

Seven people died in Walkerton and many others fell ill in 2000 after the community's water system was contaminated with E. coli.

"What I say ... is that decisions that a government makes has consequences," Wynne said Friday during a stop at the West Park Healthcare Centre in Toronto.

"So, if we are going to learn from history, if we are going to learn from decisions that have been made in the past, then we have to remember what those decisions were. We have to look at what the impacts were."

An inquiry into the deaths laid partial blame on privatization and reductions under Mike Harris's provincial Conservative government.

Hudak, who has vowed to eliminate 100,000 public-sector positions, attacked Wynne for descending on Walkerton.

"I think it is rather sad to see the premier of Ontario try to take advantage of that for political gain,” he said on Thursday.

On Friday, Wynne questioned whether health care and education would escape the 100,000 job cuts Hudak is promising.

She said the suggestion that it "could be done without affecting health care is ... questionable at best."

During Friday's campaign stop, Wynne promised to grant nurses more power to prescribe medication for ailments such as skin conditions and the ability to order tests such as CT scans, ultrasounds, and MRIs.

"A re-elected Liberal government would expand the role and responsibilities of nurses," she said, adding narcotic prescriptions would remain the responsibility of doctors.

maryam.shah@sunmedia.ca


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