Ontario votes – Question of the week May 11-22

As is Expositor tradition during the leadup to the provincial election, this newspaper poses a question each week to the candidates. The questions, and their responses, follow here:

Ontario is a large and diverse territory, and the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are just now beginning to be felt by some sectors.

What does your political party feel is the single largest matter of concern to Ontario’s citizens as they head towards the June 2 election date?

Please answer this question with specific reference to Algoma-Manitoulin and, if possible, use examples drawn from your understanding of the people/economy of Manitoulin Island.

Cheryl Fort,
Progressive Conservative candidate

Cheryl Fort

Ontarians are sick of talk. They are sick of complaining. They are sick of delays and excuses. They don’t want to hear about another report, another committee or another review. They deserve to see real action. They deserve a government and a premier with a real plan. They deserve a leader who will Get it Done.

● Doug Ford and the Ontario PC Party are the only party that will Get It Done.

● We have a plan to build new homes, roads, and highways.

● A plan to give you a break and put more money in your pocket.

● A plan to create new and better jobs, a plan to stay open.

● Our plan says “yes” to Getting it Done: To rebuilding Ontario’s economy; working for workers; building highways and key infrastructure; keeping costs down; plan to stay open.

On the doors in Algoma-Manitoulin, building Ontario has been echoed that people want a government that has a plan to improve our province. People want a government that is ready to work and ensure that our province can thrive for future generations.  

The Ontario PC Party will provide the continued strong leadership into the recovery of the province. The time is now, Algoma-Manitoulin, for change. Through my expertise in municipal politics and community building, we have an opportunity to see significant change come to Algoma-Manitoulin. There is going to be tremendous investment into our province and we need to have an Ontario PC Party member in provincial parliament to ensure not only that our needs are heard but that our strengths are part of Ontario’s recovery. Algoma-Manitoulin can be part of the dynamic force that will go into rebuilding Ontario’s economy.  

Manitoulin, we need reliable safe health care, consistent and high speed internet and upgraded roads. We have a government knocking at the door saying these very things, that they will invest! We need to work together! Let’s elect Cheryl Fort as the next Member of Provincial Parliament so we can work in step with the government instead of in opposition. Let’s make a choice, Algoma-Manitoulin, to embrace change and work at improving our lives through the Ontario PC Party’s Plan that says “yes”!

Ontarians want action. They want results. They want completion of promises. They want to see plans come to fruition. Ontarians deserve real action. It is time to get the government we deserve and a premier with a real plan. We deserve a leader who will Get it Done. The time is now to elect Cheryl Fort and let’s start a new chapter in our lives that will change our future.

We have a full understanding of what has not been accomplished in opposition; it is time for Algoma-Manitoulin to choose differently and I am asking for your vote to help bring about change to our riding. The single largest matter of concern to the Algoma-Manitoulin resident is ‘how will I continue to afford my life?’ This is exactly why we need a plan! Doug Ford and the Ontario PC Party have been able to bring significant improvements to our province within the midst of a pandemic. It is going to be an exciting four years as Doug Ford and the Ontario PC Party invest in the province and Algoma-Manitoulin. Now is our opportunity to Get it Done with Doug Ford. 

Michael Mantha,
NDP incumbent

Michael Mantha

As we head into this election, I am reflecting on what I have heard from constituents over the last four years. In this election, the Ontario NDP is focused on fixing what matters most to Ontarians and forming a government that works for everyday people.

It’s clear to me that consecutive governments have neglected to address a whole host of issues here in the North. Just this spring, we saw the terrible state of Highways 542 and 551 on Manitoulin Island. We are also watching the price of homes skyrocket while Conservatives stand behind wealthy investors who are making things worse.

However, from what I have heard in the last decade as the MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin, people’s number one concern for our region is healthcare. Specifically, the shortage of healthcare professionals in our region and access to timely services for the many small and rural communities that make up this riding.

According to the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, we are short upwards of 300 doctors in Northern Ontario. That’s why the NDP has pledged in our 2022 platform to hire at least that many physicians in our region, including 100 specialists and 40 mental health practitioners.

We will develop an incentive package to recruit doctors and their families to live and work in Northern Ontario. As well, we will expand the number of seats and training opportunities at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and introduce a scholarship program for students living in rural and remote communities in Northern Ontario, who want to practice medicine up here.

The NDP has also pledged to hire 30,000 nurses in Ontario and 10,000 PSWs to fill in the gaps that hospitals, long-term care homes and community health centres are experiencing in human resources. Our plan is to create a specific strategy to recruit and retain nurses in Northern Ontario, including opportunities for mentorship to ensure that nurses who work or have worked in Northern communities can provide support and training to nurses newly arriving in Northern Ontario.

We will also repeal Bill 124 that the Conservative government has used to suppress wages of public sector workers, like nurses and PSWs.

Hiring those healthcare workers is only half the battle. Under our current model of care in rural Northern Ontario, physicians and nurses are being burnt out like never before. We need to look at setting up new, integrated models of care in small communities so that physicians and nurses have access to the resources they need to meet the needs of their communities. Too often, small-town healthcare workers are overloaded with administrative burdens that take away from time spent with patients.

I have spoken in the legislature on numerous occasions about the dangerous shortage of physicians that we face in our region. As a result, the NDP put forward a motion calling on the government to immediately address the crisis our communities face and recruit, train, and support healthcare professionals in the North. Sadly, the Conservative members from the government voted down this motion and prevented it from passing.

On June 2, Ontario will have the chance to elect an NDP government that is committed to a strong and sustainable public healthcare system here in Northern Ontario.

Tim Vine,
Liberal candidate

Tim Vine

Ontario Liberals are focused on economic dignity, which encompasses far more than just affordability. The truth is, governments can do very little to control prices, with the global market shocks of, first the pandemic, and now the war in Ukraine. What we can do is make government services more affordable by lowering costs, like our plan to make public transit, including Ontario Northland and walk-ons on the Chi-Cheemaun, a dollar a ride. We can try and put more money in the pockets of those with the least, like the Ontario Liberal plan to increase the provincial top up on Old Age Security by $1,000 a year. We can return money that parents never should have had to spend, like the $2,750/child rebate for the Ford PC delay on the federal childcare program. These are not silver bullets but will help our seniors and families on the Island and throughout Algoma-Manitoulin.

As important as it is to ensure people have more money in their pockets, economic dignity also means providing improved publicly funded services. Here I refer to the twin pillars provided by the Ontario government: healthcare (including long term care [LTC] and home care) and education. For me, and for so many people I am talking to at the doors, the pandemic has laid bare fault-lines in these systems that we must repair and Ontario Liberals have a responsibly progressive plan to transform these systems.

To improve home care capacity, so that seniors can age in the family home, Ontario Liberals are committed to increasing the home care budget by 10 percent per year for the next 10 years. To increase local LTC where families can easily visit their loved ones, Ontario Liberals are committed to ending for-profit care, adding 400,000 new spaces while shrinking the size of new LTC facilities so our seniors receive more individual care. To ensure that we have enough healthcare professionals to staff our clinics, hospitals and LTC facilities, Ontario Liberals will repeal Bill 124 allowing our healthcare heroes to freely collectively bargain and will increase the minimum pay of PSWs to $25/hour. Right here on Manitoulin, I’ve seen firsthand the lack of home care which leads to more ER visits and hospitalizations. I’ve seen the impact of not having enough capacity in the LTC system, meaning our seniors get stuck in hospital waiting for an open LTC spot. I’ve seen how hard our healthcare professionals work and that they deserve to have job security and be well-compensated.

We need to provide not only for the generation that built Ontario but for the next generation whose education has been so impacted during the pandemic. Ontario Liberals recognize that our kids need support to recover after two years of interrupted learning. We are committed to hard-capping all class sizes at 20 students, hiring 10,000 more teachers, hiring 1,000 school-supporting mental health workers, building 200 new schools and clearing the backlog of school repairs instead of building a new Toronto highway. These investments will directly impact the quality of education right here on Manitoulin Island and across Algoma-Manitoulin. As further recognition of the impacts of the pandemic on students, Ontario Liberals will remove the requirement for mandatory e-learning classes introduced by the Ford PCs and will give students the option of a fully funded and structured Grade 13.

Ontario Liberals have a responsible and progressive plan to ensure Ontario moves forward and as the candidate for Algoma-Manitoulin, I am committed to ensuring we follow through and that these solutions are adapted to work right here in our Northern rural context.