By-election: Kathryn Shailer, NDP

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Headshot for Political Champaign 2024

Why are you running to represent the riding of L-K-M?

Life has become much tougher for the residents of Lambton-Kent-Middlesex over the nearly six years since the Ford government came to power: good health care is less accessible, the cost of living has skyrocketed for groceries and rents, elder care is precarious, young people are giving up on the dream of buying their own home, rural communities faced with the high costs of infrastructure maintenance are nearing the breaking point, farmers question how they can continue, while farmland is disappearing at a frightening speed.

I know that people suffering these hardships are ready to give up on government. I want to restore optimism and hope by lending a strong voice for rural Ontario to the Official Opposition at Queen’s Park.

What are the biggest issues facing the riding?

Access to health care when you need it and where you need it is the top issue because it impacts people across the riding.

Affordability and support for rural communities are also huge.

When family doctors retire or leave the area, the caseload of remaining physicians doubles or triples, so even those who have a doctor face weeks’-long waits for an appointment and end up joining those without a doctor in overcrowded ERs. This is unacceptable.

Many ORs in our public hospitals sit empty for lack of resources while the Ford government funds the building of private clinics with your tax dollars. Recently, Strathroy-Middlesex Hospital announced the impending closure of its obstetrics program, sending patients to London or St. Thomas. Why is this happening when Strathroy and Middlesex are growing?

We need more homes people can actually afford and our municipalities need help with infrastructure and full veto power on landfill expansion.

Do you feel rural Ontario is getting overlooked? If elected, what if any steps will you take to remedy that?

Absolutely – and this started under the Liberals and has become worse under Doug Ford’s Conservatives. The key issues are funding and authority. The main source of municipal funding from the province is the OMPF (Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund). The province has drastically reduced transfers while claiming to upload offsetting costs for social programs.

The funding formula benefits larger municipalities while small rural communities are left with the major costs of road, bridge, and culvert maintenance, as well as policing. This is not sustainable. A rural infrastructure program is desperately needed.

We know from the Dresden landfill purchase by a GTA waste management company that current legislation allows the Minister of the Environment to approve such proposals with or without a full environmental assessment, and with or without municipal consent. We can’t trust the Ford government to follow through with this and hundreds of dormant landfills in rural areas by amending legislation to give municipalities full veto power over expansion proposals. L-K-M does not need to become more of a dumping ground for GTA waste.

What are your goals as a Member of Provincial Parliament?

My goals include lending a strong voice at Queen’s Park to the above issues and concerns of L-K-M residents and ensuring these are amplified in the legislature by Marit Stiles, Leader of the Official Opposition.

I will also work hard to help individual constituents decipher and navigate what often seems a daunting maze of policies and procedures. This is where my decades of postsecondary experience supporting students, parents, and faculty will hold me in good stead. Rural Ontario needs another strong voice in the service of building resilient, caring communities. I want to make your life easier, more affordable, and more hopeful.

 Please share some personal details about yourself.

I am at home in Alvinston and Central Lambton where I am active in the community, supporting local arts and culture programs, contributing to local heritage recognition, and helping set up a community meal program.

Family means a great deal to me, and I followed my daughter and her family to SW Ontario to be a support and part of my grandson’s life. In all, I have two adult daughters and three grandchildren.

Ensuring our schools can provide our children the necessary foundation for future educational and vocational opportunities is extremely important to me.

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