Candidate Q&A – Margaret Schleier Stahl, Liberal

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Margaret Schleier Stahl

Margaret has been advocating for the constituents of Chatham-Kent for over 30 years.

Margaret has worked for the Municipality of Chatham-Kent in a variety of roles. She is a Life Skills Specialist and facilitates workshops for participants on Ontario Works Assistance. Margaret has obtained her Honours Degree in Social Work, her Bachelor of Education, as well as having her Life Skills Coaches Certificate.

Her community involvement includes past postings of secretary to the Chatham Kent Service Coordinators Networking Group and a community assessment team member in Chatham Kent. She currently is a member of the Leamington Mennonite Home Gala Committee. She has held previous board positions such as a member of the South Essex Community Council Leamington.

Margaret is the recipient of the Tri-County Literacy Promotion of Education Award. Margaret is mother to a daughter and son and enjoys spending time with her family.

Would you make changes, and if so, what, to the Green Energy Act?

People remember the black outs and browns of the early 2000s. They disrupted our businesses, our lives, while putting people at risk. Those events happened because the Liberal government had inherited an electricity system that had been badly neglected under the previous Conservative government. We took that dirty, unreliable electricity system and we made it clean – and one all of us can count on. Thanks to the leadership of the Liberal government, ‎Ontario now benefits from 95% emissions-free electricity. We invested in building electricity system that people and businesses can count on. And in closing our coal-fire power plants, our children don’t even remember what a smog day was—because it’s been years since we’ve had one.
We reached a point in 2016 where after years of necessary investments in clean, reliable energy, there was no longer any need for further procurement. That’s why we suspended the procurement of large renewable energy projects back then, a decision that saved up to $3.8 billion in costs.

Ontario electricity prices continue to spiral upward. What should be done to stop the increases?

Over the last several years people told us that electricity prices had increased too much, and too quickly. And while these increases were due, in part, to making the necessary investments to create a clean and reliable system—fixing what the Liberal government had inherited from the Conservatives.

The Fair Hydro Plan has made energy bills 25% lower on average for families, small businesses and farms, and low-income families. For us in Chatham-Kent — Leamington, there are people seeing decreases as high as 40 – 50%. The families and small businesses in our community are now paying less on average here than in many other similar jurisdictions.

If elected as the Member of Provincial Parliament for this riding, I will continue to listen to my neighbours, colleagues, friends and everyone in our community and bring those concerns to Queen’s Park.

How do you think the increase in minimum wage has impacted the Ontario economy?

As Liberals, we want to create the strongest possible economic climate so that small and large businesses alike can grow and thrive. But we know that some businesses have struggled with the transition to a higher minimum wage. That’s why we brought in $500 million in new initiatives over the next three years to support small businesses in Ontario – including their taxes, from 4.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent. And we Eliminated the Capital Tax.

We are raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour because we believe a minimum wage should be a living wage. Thanks to our leadership, thousands of hard-working, minimum wage workers across the province started getting paid more fairly on January 1st.

Doug Ford’s plan to freeze the minimum wage, while promising a tax cut tax will leave those people at least $1100 worse off. Doug Ford would roll-back the minimum wage increase – and freeze those wages.

In terms of health care, what do you feel the spending priority should be?

As a mother with two children, I know how important it is to invest in our young people. And that means that we need a holistic approach to healthcare that includes mental health, physical health and overall care. With our 2018 budget, we are making a deliberate choice to invest in care for the people of Ontario by investing more in healthcare -in hospitals, home care, mental health, and long-term care.

We’re increasing our health care spending by 5%, to reduce wait times and increase access across the entire healthcare system including $822 million to support Ontario’s publicly funded hospitals and $2.1 billion over four years for mental health and addictions to deliver better care.

We’ve increased our investments in health care each and every year, allowing us to treat more patients, provide better care and reduce wait times to some of the shortest in the country.

Ontario Liberals have led the largest expansion in medicare in a generation – expanding it first to children and youth under the age of 25, and, in 2019, this will be expanded to seniors as well, while eliminating co-pays and deductibles. We’re moving closer to the goal of pharmacare for all people in Ontario.

Thanks to our leadership, four million young people and their families are now able to afford the medications that will keep them healthy.

OHIP+ is giving young people access to more than 4,400 medications reimbursed under the Ontario Drug Benefit Program, including medications listed under the Exceptional Access Program, at no cost. More than 1 million children and youth have accessed this program since the start of the year. This includes medications that treat conditions like diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, ADHD, ear infections, and HIV.

The PCs have said they will cut billions in services. Imagine a billion dollars in cuts to health alone: would the PCs cut over 7,600 nurses? Cut care for 15,000 long-term care residents? Close 12,000 hospital beds across the province? Or cut breast cancer treatments for 27,000 individuals?

The province has a debt of more than $320 billion, running a deficit this year of about $6.7 billion. What has to change?

We know that investments in our people are the foundation of a strong economy. We’ve made a deliberate choice to invest in care – health care, child care and seniors care.

As a result, we will have a small deficit – less than one percent of GDP. We did the hard work to bring the province back to balance – but right now we need to invest in care.

We’ve chosen to invest in the infrastructure, healthcare, education and other important services that people rely on. We’re making prescription drugs free for children and youth, and for seniors. We’ve invested in free tuition, and we’ve invested in childcare.

Ontario Liberals have always stood up to protect vital government services, and I’m proud to be running under that banner.

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