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All four candidates for the riding of Kenora-Rainy River were in Dryden last week for a debate at the Centre.
NDP candidate Glen Archer, Liberal candidate Karen Kejick, Green Party candidate Ember McKillop, and PC candidate Greg Rickford debated local issues and spoke about what they would do if they were elected.
The event was held by the Dryden Chamber of Commerce and the candidates answered four questions prepared by the organization.
Question one – “If elected what is your plan to ensure the Kenora-Rainy River Riding as the voice at Queen’s Park it deserves.”
Archer said the party would remain a strong voice for the north and that the Liberals and PCs have had years to lead and you don’t have to pick between bad and worse.
Kejick said she will take her role seriously and that she has a voice and passion to be a helper. Kejick added she will not run away from hard questions and that she will not be an absent MPP like Sarah Campbell.
McKillop drew a comparison to Elizabeth May who was voted the hardest working MP in the country. She added that Green MPPs do not have a party whip to answer to.
Rickford said that experience matters and drew from his track record on infrastructure projects in the north. He vowed to listen to constituents and be a voice for them.
Question two – “What steps will you take to improve our local economy?”
Kejick said she looks to improving the region and pointed to the $85 million the Liberals pledged to Grassy Narrows, a move voted down by the PCs and Liberals. She said small businesses and the highway twinning are important to the region.
[pullquote]“We know that the minimum wage increase has been a burden to business and I believe that the minimum wage increase is important in helping our families to survive but the Green Party has plans to help small businesses deal with that extra burden[/pullquote]?McKillop also addressed the needs of small businesses.
“We know that the minimum wage increase has been a burden to business and I believe that the minimum wage increase is important in helping our families to survive but the Green Party has plans to help small businesses deal with that extra burden,” said McKillop.
Rickford said red tape is making small businesses suffer and that the PC party would eliminate personal income tax on minimum wage.?Archer said with Andrea Horwath there will be no surprises and they will help small businesses by lowering hydro rates by 30%.
?Question three – “What is your plan to address high electricity rates in North Western Ontario?”
McKillop said the current model is unsustainable and said they would not spend more money on outdated sources of energy, citing that nuclear power projects have never been on time or on budget.?Rickford said the PC party would eliminate the carbon tax as well as other plans.
[pullquote]Dividends that the government of Ontario receives from Hydro One will now go to customers, that represents a significant savings to you and it stops the revenue stream to the Ontario government[/pullquote]“Dividends that the government of Ontario receives from Hydro One will now go to customers, that represents a significant savings to you and it stops the revenue stream to the Ontario government,” said Rickford.
“We will stop burying the cost of conservation programs, which exist on hydro bills by giving tax credits instead of them being charged on your hydro bill and we will put a moratorium on alternative energy contracts that are too expensive in kilowatt per hour production.”
Archer said that hydro should no be priced like a luxury, their plan is more affordable with the aforementioned 30% lower rates as well as exempting hydro from HST and ending mandatory use premiums.
Kejick said that families are struggling and the Liberals plan of dividends does a lot to help. She added that as the largest share holder of Hydro One they can effect change and that Doug Ford’s plan is to fire everyone.
?Question four – “What would you do to improve current hospital wait times for the residence of this riding?”
Rickford said that as a former nurse he understands they need to end hallway health care and protect frontline health care workers. He added an investment in mental health so that they get the treatment they need and don’t crowd the emergency room with a better continuity of care. ?Archer mentioned the NDP plan of universal pharmacare.
[pullquote]“Waits in health care are becoming painfully long, we recognize that, people are being forced out of their communities more and more to get the care they need[/pullquote]?“Waits in health care are becoming painfully long, we recognize that, people are being forced out of their communities more and more to get the care they need.
Greg mentioned having to go to Winnipeg, he’s lucky, some people are having to go to Thunder Bay and Toronto and beyond,” said Archer.
“Hospitals are overcrowded and we have a hallway medicine crisis, Kathleen Wynne cut and froze hospital budgets, Doug Ford wants to cut $6 billion and that could mean a loss of 20,000 nurses. It doesn’t have to be this way.”
Kejick mentioned that in the north life expectancy is lower and that health outcomes need to be better. She mentioned meeting with hospital boards in the area to learn more first hand.
McKillop said that people want to stay home for care if given the option and that the NDP would provide better home services and prevention.