Keeping the Focus Local – Federal Election 2019
With election day drawing near, I want to make sure local issues are front and centre, particularly those which require partnership between the City and the federal government. I’ve now had a chance to meet with all of the candidates running to be the next Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands, and here are their responses to four questions that I posed to each of them.
Question 1 – Affordable Housing
With the lowest vacancy rate in Ontario and several high profile development approvals tied up in local planning tribunals, housing is a critical priority for our city. Recently I created the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing to provide a series of recommendations that we as a municipality can implement to support our housing goals. However, that’s only one piece of the puzzle. The current available federal housing programs lack flexibility and are geared more towards bigger cities. As our MP how do you see us working together to address the local housing crisis? What would you do as our MP to help the city unlock federal investment for local affordable housing priorities?
Mark Gerretsen, Liberal: As Member of Parliament, my approach has always been a collaborative one. I likewise recognize that affordable housing is a key priority for this community. I brought Adam Vaughan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development (responsible for CMHC – Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation) to meet with the Mayor’s Task Force in March 2018 to discuss opportunities available within Canada’s first National Housing Strategy. It is important that we continue our conversations and address any gaps in the program.
If re-elected, I would make it a priority to meet with the municipality and local groups to provide advice, discuss concerns and then address them with the Minister, conveying the unique challenges that our city faces. I know that the National Housing Strategy money is first-come, first-served. Therefore I would request due and timely consideration, feedback and direction, with the overall goal of connecting our municipality and housing partners to eligible funding streams as expeditiously as possible.
Ruslan Yakoviychuk, Conservative: The lack of available and affordable housing in Kingston is one of the main issues that surfaces when I speak with Kingstonians. The critical nature of this issue places it at the top of my priority list as Kingston and the Islands’ next MP. Nine years ago, the federal government was offering to sell to the the city a piece of land in Barriefield for the nominal sum of one dollar; the plan was to build 50 units of affordable housing in that location. Unfortunately for everyone, the project was voted down by city council by one vote. Part of the Conservative platform on housing is to offer federal lands to be developed to create affordable housing. With the federal government providing the space to build, I will work with the city to secure those lands as quickly as possible so that we get started immediately. Time is of the essence, and it is my belief that all three levels of government must work together diligently and quickly to explore all possible avenues to create a viable solution to this crisis; securing federal lands would be an important first step.
Barrington Walker, NDP: The housing crisis in Kingston is indeed “a critical priority for our city”. I believe that it is one of the most important social crises currently facing our country and our region. The NDP has a plan to address the housing crisis across the country. As part of its New Deal for People, the NDP has a plan to make a real difference in housing. We are going to build new affordable homes, tackle the difficulties that Canadian’s face when dealing with skyrocketing rents in major and medium sized cities (as well as even in some rural areas) and help Canadians gain a toehold in the difficult rental market. The federal government has not had a major role in building public affordable housing since the 1960s and 1970s. As a consequence we face severe under investments in housing across the board and in the City of Kingston.The NDP plan will: build 500,000 quality affordable homes across the country. We will also provide a rental benefit of up to $5,000 to help Canadians deal with ever increasing rents in cities across Canada. We are going to double the first time buyer tax credit to $1500 and put 30 year mortgages back on the table. We are also going to implement a foreign buyer’s tax to deal with the growing problem of the financial speculation of housing markets. The NDP will also make it easier for those who are fortunate enough to buy homes. If elected as your MP, I will work with the mayor, city council to bring a significant portion of the proposed half million units to Kingston using the city’s 10-Year Municipal Housing and Homlessness Plan as a lens, a plan and a strategy to implement the vision based on the priorities identified by city leaders. I will be committed to working with a wide array of partners who are currently working on the housing file in Kingston, including private non profit groups and developers.
Andy Brooke, People’s Party: We recognize the stress that the city of Kingston is under when it comes to affordable housing. Our vacancy numbers are so low, and housing and rent prices rise every year.
The People’s Party of Canada recognizes that much has to change for Canadians if we are to accomplish anything as it comes to party’s strategy to help Canadians afford appropriate housing. Our plan for more affordable housing is to reduce economic stress on our country as whole.
We will reduce this stress by making life more affordable by ending supply management and lowering taxes. We plan to abolish the capital gains tax, which is a levy charged on investment incomes, and establish a two-tiered tax system that would charge Canadians 15 per cent on income between $15,001 and $100,000 and 25 per cent on income that’s above $100,000, while eliminating taxes on the first $15,000 earned. That’s a significant cut for all Canadians and will stimulate our economic growth.
We will cancel the Carbon Tax and the Paris Agreement which don’t achieve their goals of reducing the effects of climate change and keeping the funds here in Canada to address the real environmental and economic issues we have right here in Canada.
We will also slow down immigration to a more sustainable rate and increase the number of economic immigrants who come to Canada and contribute to our economy thus reducing some pressure on our housing supply. At our current immigration rates, we can’t build housing fast enough, even in Kingston, to make room for so many new Canadians and that helps to drive pricing up. Slowing down, will stimulate our economy and allow us to catch up and increase our housing here in Kingston.
With such a low availability of housing, I also believe that we will need to invest in creative building projects right here in Kingston.
I am excited about opportunities to get involved in some tiny housing projects, increasing housing supply on and around Kingston’s Military Base and in finding great ways collaborate together with Ian Arthur our MPP and Mayor Paterson to increase the housing supply here in Kingston.
Candice Christmas, Green: The Green Party of Canada has a comprehensive strategy to create safe affordable housing, with an emphasis on rental stock, but also homes for purchase. There are market failures right now that need to be addressed. The Liberal housing strategy failed to adequately invest in the immediate needs of communities and opted to create a home-buyers grant that has been widely criticized as focusing in the wrong direction. The urgency isn’t in helping Canadians go further into debt by buying potentially inflated assets in a globalized real estate market, the urgency is homelessness and those whose housing is precarious and sub-standard. A focus on renters, homelessness, co-operatives and inadequate housing conditions needs to be prioritized above increasing home ownership. National leadership, and support for housing programs municipalities is urgently needed.
With respect to Kingston & The Islands, I am most excited about the tremendous potential to develop housing cooperatives that not only provide safe and affordable housing, but we can use a ‘wrap-around-care’ model for population groups with special needs, e.g., youth with mental health and addictions issues, adults with mental health and addictions issues, single-parent families, and seniors with complex needs. Wrap around care means that housing complexes also create community and service space, like clinic space for medical, occupational therapy and other therapeutic visits, gyms and yoga studios, community kitchens and dining areas for food education and community building, entertainment spaces like theatre stages and viewing rooms, etc. The idea is to serve people with complex needs in their community spaces, rather than having them travel to services. In this way, we can tackle the social determinants of health and build individual and community resilience.
As per our policy playbook, a Green government would:
- Legislate housing as a legally protected fundamental Human Right for all Canadians and permanent residents
- Direct Investments by the Government of Canada
- Appoint a Minister for Housing to oversee a National Affordable Housing Plan that provides sufficient funds annually through CMHC and the National Housing Co-Investment Fund to community-based agencies across Canada to ensure that an adequate supply of new subsidized affordable homes is built: 25 000 new and 15 000 rehabilitated affordable units per year for the next ten years using capital grants and changes in tax and mortgage insurance regulations.
- Enhance the National Housing Co-investment Fund with an additional $750 million in grant money for new builds
- Allocate $750 million to the Canada Housing Benefit to assist 125,000 low-income households to afford their rents – this would flow through municipalities
- Create a Canada Co-op Housing Strategy that seeks to update the mechanisms for financing and re-financing co-op housing in partnership between CMHC, Co-op Societies, Credit Unions and other lenders, and create a more responsive and adaptive relationship between CMHC and Housing Co-ops
- Create a fund to support existing and emerging Provincial shelter assistance needs and supportive housing for an additional 40 000 low-income and specialized needs households per year, for ten years to be matched by the Provinces
- Eliminate the first time home buyers grant
- Enhancements to the Canada Infrastructure Bank to Expand Options for Municipalities and Provinces
- Include new and existing Housing as Infrastructure ensuring the Canada Infrastructure Bank can support investment by Provinces and Municipalities in communities and allocate 1% of GST to housing and other municipal infrastructure needs on an ongoing basis to provide a consistent baseline of funding
- Make changes to the Canadian Infrastructure Bank that place more focus on reducing the interest payments of municipalities on loans for existing and emerging infrastructure needs, and less on attracting private finance for new infrastructure only
- Provide credit and loan guarantees to non-profit housing organizations and cooperatives for the building and restoration of quality, energy-efficient housing for seniors, people with special needs, and low-income families
- Subsidize private developers to include a percentage of affordable housing in their housing projects
- Incentivizing Development for Canadian Housing Needs
- Restore tax incentives for purpose-built rental housing and expand to co-ops including the “Rollover provision” which eliminated tax on sales of rental buildings if a corresponding number of rental housing units were to be built in the same calendar year, and eliminating GST on construction costs of rental housing and co-op housing.
- Change the Income Tax Act to offer tax cuts for affordable housing, including incentives to stimulate investment in the building of and maintenance of an ongoing supply of affordable multi-unit rental housing and to include tax credits for gifts of lands, or of land and buildings, to community land trusts to provide affordable housing;
- Remove the “deemed” GST whenever a developer with empty condo units, places them on the market as rentals.
- Revitalize CMHC’s Mandate to Better Serve Canadian Housing Needs Today
While recent changes to CMHC in the past several years have added more transparency and accountability, the priority focus of the institution remains supporting Canadian banks and lenders to ensure credit liquidity and de-risking investment in housing ownership. Today, with many of Canada’s housing markets demonstrably overvalued, and home ownership rates among the highest in the world, this is not where the focus of a national housing strategy is needed most. CMHC is the most powerful tool we have for housing affordability and deep core housing needs in communities if we focus it on those issues.
- Ensure CMHC will innovate in supporting co-op and shared housing.
- Change the mandate of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to include responsibility, as it once had, for affordable, non-market, and co-operative housing;
- Direct CMHC to support seniors housing for middle-income seniors
- Make changes to existing legislature that prevent First Nations from accessing finance to invest in self-determined housing needs in communities in partnership with CMHC
Together these measures will modernize the Federal Government’s approach to supporting the broad range of housing needs in Canada’s different regions through direct investments, changes to tax policies and lending and granting programs that will improve market signals for purpose built rental and put the Government of Canada’s focus where it is most immediately required.
Question 2 – Connectivity – LaSalle Causeway
Ensuring people can move across our community safely and efficiently, in both active and traditional modes of transportation, is a priority for our community. The LaSalle Causeway is a federally owned bridge that provides an essential connection between the east end and the downtown. Recently there have been increasing closures and lane reductions impacting how people move across the Cataraqui River.
With the much anticipated Third Crossing now under construction, we have an opportunity to consider the future of this 100 year old bridge. We know that the current bridge is expensive for the federal government to operate and maintain. As a City we are interested in discussing a long term solution for the Causeway. Will you help facilitate discussions between the City and the federal government on this matter? As our next MP what is your vision for the future of the Causeway?
Candice Christmas, Green: The Green Party of Canada is committed to creating a national cycling and walking infrastructure fund to help support zero emissions active transportation. I would envision working with the City and the Kingston Coalition for Active Transportation to turn the Lasalle Causeway into an active transportation link between the east end and the downtown. In fact, the whole lower harbor area could be transformed into a pedestrian friendly area by rerouting traffic away to the bridge. This would be good for the many military personnel and residents of the East end who could access the downtown through active transit safely and efficiently, as well as tourists and the promotion of cycle tourism between Ottawa and Kingston.
Andy Brooke, People’s Party: Yesterday, the 401 was closed eastbound and the only route forward was to send trucks and cars alike through to the La Salle Causeway jamming up our city streets. As I considered this question it occurred to me that while the third crossing will certainly alleviate the extreme challenge of navigating our way through tough days like yesterday. It won’t, however, do so if our 100 year old bridge is out of commission on a regular basis.
I would wholeheartedly collaborate with the City of Kingston on a plan to update and
modernize the causeway in order to reduce costs of maintenance and reduce downtime for the bridge. I would be honoured to introduce and champion those plans for ensuring the long-term operation and modernization of The La Salle Causeway.
Ruslan Yakoviychuk, Conservative: The LaSalle Causeway has important, historical meaning to the City of Kingston. The Third Crossing will provide much relief to traffic issues that have plagued the causeway as our city has continued to develop and outgrow the capabilities of the 100 year old bridge. While improvements to the causeway bridge are necessarily limited by the land available on either side of it, it is a fact that we need to explore options to preserve the integrity of our city’s history while ensuring that the LaSalle Causeway provides Kingstonians with an effective means of crossing between the east end and downtown. As Kingston’s next MP, I would definitely help facilitate discussions between the federal government and the city to explore possibilities to improve traffic flow into and out of the downtown core via this corridor.
Barrington Walker, NDP: The LaSalle Causeway is an integral part of Kingston’s history and physical landscape. It continues to play an important function in terms of connecting the city. Once the Third Crossing is finished, the Causeway will continue to play a vital role in moving people about the city and as such it should be preserved. My vision for the future of the causeway is to maintain its current functionality, providing relief for the Third Crossing should it require maintenance or an additional artery should the 401 experience problems as it frequently does. The Causeway provides a crucial link for RMC and CFB as well as the residential and commercial pockets around it. My vision for the future of the causeway would be to maintain it and to restore it to its historical condition. I would look into not only securing infrastructure money for it (and the NDP is committed to a vigorous infrastructure program), I would also look into having it declared a heritage site resonant with its historical iconic status.
Mark Gerretsen, Liberal: Over the past four years, it was a pleasure to work with the Mayor and the City of Kingston to keep my promise to secure a $60 million federal investment in the Third Crossing. We have taken a big and positive step forward in improving local transportation. While the LaSalle Causeway has been an essential route for Kingstonians, I agree that we need to make appropriate plans for its longevity, in terms of its maintenance, operation and associated costs. I would be happy to facilitate discussion with the Public Works department in order to find a sustainable plan so that this bridge continues to serve Kingstonians.
Question 3 – Kingston as an Innovation Leader
Our goal is to put Kingston on the map – regionally, nationally and internationally – and we’re making great strides toward that vision. There are currently a lack of physical spaces for developing the ideas and products of tomorrow. The Innovation Park lands represent a great opportunity to develop the site into a world class innovation incubator for ideas, research and cutting edge product development. As our next MP how would you contribute to the development of Innovation Park? Will you commit to helping the city pursue federal investment for the development of this space?
Barrington Walker, NDP: With universities and colleges that enjoy national prestige and a city council that is committed to innovation, Kingston is poised to become and innovation leader. The Innovation Park Lands represents an opportunity to build critical innovation infrastructure in Kingston. I will encourage our partners at Queen’s University, Royal Military College and St Lawrence College to help develop incubators for knowledge based and green start-ups, building on the more basic streams of research inquiry that are best done, in my view, on university and college campuses. The NDP plans to support an innovation agenda. The NDP is committed to an innovation agenda in areas such as clean aviation, public agriculture research and data collection. The NDP will also invest in zero carbon energy generation such as solar and wind that will require government partnerships for startups and commitments to new (and old) carbon capture technologies. Expanding the existing infrastructure at Innovation Park and working with the aforementioned stakeholders in the city presents and excellent opportunity to have the national plan implemented at the local level.
Candice Christmas, Green: Kingston and the Islands have tremendous potential to be leaders in the Green Economy, with two universities and St. Lawrence College, one of Canada’s most educated workforces, and our proximity to Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto. But we have struggled over the past three decades to get incubators off the ground. Part of this may have to do with the location of the Innovation Park. It needs to be better linked to the downtown, Queen’s and St. Lawrence College. Light rail transit may be the way to accomplish this, and the Green Party of Canada has funding for such projects. The infrastructure itself needs upgrading, with more open spaces for communities of practice to congregate informally.
In terms of a focus, I believe we can become a world-class incubator for hemp – growing it and manufacturing. The Greens plan to exempt CBD from the restrictions of the Prescriptions List, allowing hemp growers to produce it as a natural health product. This would strengthen the hemp industry and increase supply so those who use it for medicinal purposes do not have to purchase it illegally. On Wolfe Island and the surrounding hinterlands, hemp could become the next cash crop. In Kingston, we could manufacture medicinal CBD, but also create an incubator for the myriad of other products that can be made from hemp rather than plastic. Our incubator could also focus on best practices for organic farming of hemp. It could be huge and the Greens also have a Green venture capital and infrastructure fund.
The Harper government muzzled scientists and cut funding for key research, including funding for clean water and northern science on climate change. The current Liberal government has talked about funding science and climate change research but has fallen well short of what is needed. Scientific research is the foundation of innovation, and enabling a green future requires switching to an innovation economy. A Green government will make Canada a leader in this space.
As per our policy playbook, a Green government would:
- Invest in scientific research and implement the full funding recommendations from Canada’s Fundamental Science Review.
- Enhance funding for the granting councils, including the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.
- Restore and augment Climate Change and Atmospheric Research (CCAR) funding to NSERC and ensure ongoing funding for the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory, which the Liberals failed to restore after the funding ran out.
- Commit to full implementation of Scientific Integrity Policies for all government departments.
- Establish a portal where all government science, including the evidence the government uses to make decisions, is available to Canadians in a comprehensible form.
- Adopt policies similar to Europe’s “Plan S” to ensure that scientific publications based on publicly-funded research are available in open access journals or on the portal.
- Supports NSERC’s Framework on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in scientific research, and commit to strengthening Canadian scientific and engineering communities to include the full participation of equity-seeking groups, including women, visible minorities, Indigenous Peoples, people with diverse gender identities and people with disabilities.
Mark Gerretsen, Liberal: Yes. The municipality has my full support for developing these lands. The federal government has made significant funding contributions to local research and development. The government has also made historic investments in post-secondary research through various granting programs, and our local institutions (namely Queen’s University, St. Lawrence College, and the Royal Military College of Canada). Kingston is fortunate in that these post secondary institutions collaborate with the municipality and local businesses. I have been very happy to support all funding applications that are brought to my attention, and look forward to working with all partners to further develop our innovation sector.
Ruslan Yakoviychuk, Conservative: A major portion of the Conservative party plan to protect our environment involves investment in green technology innovation, development, and adoption in Canada. This dovetails perfectly with the city’s goal to put Kingston on the map in part through the development of ideas and products of tomorrow. As Kingston’s next MP, I commit to work to secure investment from the federal government for the development of Innovation Park through the Conservative push to support technological advancements in Canada.
Andy Brooke, People’s Party: Kingston has always been Canada’s First Capital. We are a city of Leaders and we are a place where dreamers and doers come together, share ideas and make great things happen. Innovation is not what we do – it’s who we are. We constantly strive to introduce new ways of thinking and doing to improve the lives of citizens.
I am beyond excited about the strides Kingston has been making to increase our profile as a first choice for business investment both from within Canada and in foreign investment.
Our plans to reduce corporate welfare and put more money into the hands of every consumer, will create more opportunities for small and medium size businesses to thrive here in Kingston.
I will stand with the City of Kingston to ensure that Kingston is empowered to further develop into a world class innovation incubator for ideas research and cutting-edge product development. I agree that the Federal Government should participate in creating an economic environment that encourages our growth and expansion in this way. I also believe that our platform policies to end corporate welfare and governmental overreach will also improve the likelihood that those great ideas that grow in innovation park succeed.
Question 4 – Your Priorities
Thank you for taking the time to respond to these priorities and for putting your name forward to represent our great community. Although the above questions represent city priorities and goals, I also want to give you an opportunity to talk about your vision more generally. As our next MP, what are some other things you hope to accomplish?
Ruslan Yakoviychuk, Conservative: Kingston is my home. My greatest wish is to work hard for Kingstonians to help our city maximize its potential; to be the people’s champion. As I mentioned, one of the greatest challenges facing us currently is affordable and available housing, and I will make this my first priority as your MP. Hand in hand with that is the need to make life more affordable for every resident of this city through eliminating the carbon tax and implementing universal tax cuts, through increased transfer payments for health, education, and social programs, and through tax credits for transit passes and children’s fitness and arts programs, among other measures. I see myself as the voice of Kingston’s residents in Ottawa, and as such I will work with all levels of government and with other political parties if needed to ensure that Kingston receives every possible benefit of being an important and historical part of Canada.
My vision is for all Kingstonians to grow and thrive in this great community, and to help make this a city we are all even more proud to call home.
Mark Gerretsen, Liberal: The City of Kingston has made great strides forward these past four years. The redevelopment of Breakwater Park and Gord Downie Pier, for which the federal government contributed $1 million, is a great example of an all-government collaboration. Also worth mentioning is the $20.2 million federal investment in a plan to separate stormwater and sanitary sewer lines and repair and strengthen shoreline damaged by high lake water levels. This money came from a $2.2 billion increase in the amount of money municipalities receive from the federal gas tax. In addition to improving our waterfront, we have also made significant investments in local public transit, ferry services.
If re-elected, I look forward to working within government to advance the national and universal pharmacare program and this community’s access to health care and family doctors. I also look forward to being a part of Kingston’s fight against climate change. The City of Kingston has declared a climate emergency, and we need to ensure that we apply for all funding available at the federal level to support local climate initiatives, especially energy efficient and affordable housing. We have been successful in accessing funding for E-charging stations, but this is just the beginning of a transformation of our transportation sector.
My vision will always be realized in my work as an advocate for this community in bringing forward our local concerns to Ottawa.
Barrington Walker, NDP: Kingston is one of the most desirable cities in Canada where many enjoy a high quality of living, free of many of the stresses of larger urban centres. If we are not careful, however, we are in danger of this vision of Kingston and the Islands being the preserve of only the affluent and well connected. My priorities correspond with those of the City of Kingston to a great degree. In broad strokes, I envision a city where we look after our environment and each other. Through our commitments to environmental stewardship and social investments. My priorities are for this riding are thus to invest in people and communities. If elected as your MP, I will work hard for investments in housing, post secondary education, head to toe healthcare including pharmacare and zero net carbon energy generation and transportation infrastructure. Together, we can build a progressive city where decisively reduce our carbon footprint, create good paying secure green jobs, and make critical target investments in people and infrastructure.
Candice Christmas, Green: Because we have so many federal public servants in our riding, I will at the outset prioritize fixing the Phoenix payroll debacle. I would advocate for Kingston being the pilot site for reconstructing a new federal system given the diversity of our federal employees. I have expertise in big IT systems implementation. First we need to rehire HR Reps for each department and go back to manual entry so we get the data right, get people paid, properly, and on time. Then we need to engage in a full audit of the system by users and take their recommendations forward to developing a robust RFP process for a new system. We need to stop pouring money into a system that doesn’t work. I believe this can be accomplished within an 18-month window, with the right plan.
Then there are systems issues. For the past thirty years, I’ve working in both community and economic development, as well as the health and mental health care sectors. I’ve also launch two consulting firms and helped my husband run his two small businesses. There is so much work to do… it’s hard to synthesize it all. But as MP for Kingston and the Islands, my priories focus on two areas:
- Health and Well-being for all citizens of our riding, and
- The creation of Good Green Jobs
For our seniors, who comprise a growing proportion of our population, the Greens recognize that they built the society we now enjoy, have a wealth of experience and continue to contribute to the economic and social life of our communities and country.
An essential duty of the social contract between government and citizens is to make sure people can live fulfilling and dignified lives in their senior years. Green Party pledges such as the Guaranteed Livable Income, Pharmacare, public transportation, home retrofits and affordable housing all contribute to seniors’ quality of life.
A Green government will also develop a National Seniors Strategy with the following priorities:
- Ensure the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) remains robust and adaptive to changing needs and circumstances by increasing over time the target income replacement rate from 25 per cent to 50 per cent of income received during working years.
- Regulate the CPP Investment Board to require divestment of coal, oil and gas shares and ensure that all investments are ethical and promote environmental sustainability.
- Support innovative home-sharing plans and other measures to allow people to stay in their own homes as long as possible. Create more long-term care beds in neighbourhood facilities.
- Protect private pensions by amending the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to establish the preeminence of pensioners and the pension plan in the creditor hierarchy during company insolvency proceedings.
- In collaboration with health professionals and provincial/territorial governments, develop and fund a national dementia strategy. Within 25 years, the number of Canadians living with a form of dementia could reach 1.3 million, imposing the highest economic, social, and health costs of all diseases. The strategy would support research, improve quality of life for patients and care givers, and educate the public to increase awareness and reduce stigma.
- Amend the Medical Assistance in Dying legislation to ensure that everyone has the choice of dying with dignity. This includes allowing advance directives and guaranteeing the right to draw up a “living will” that gives individuals the power to limit or refuse medical intervention and treatment.
In Kingston & The Islands, my personal goal is to address the mental health and addictions crisis in our community. I already sit on the Harm Reduction Alliance and have contributed as a parent with lived experience to our KFLA Community Drug Strategy. My doctoral research is on Voices for Youth Wellness.
We need a youth-specific model of wrap-around care. Youth need a safe place to go. The Youth Shelter is not it, especially for young women and LGBTQ2S youth. We need a youth shelter for both of these gendered groups. Many youth are kicked out of their homes because of their drug use. They have a safe place to go at One Roof Youth Hub, but that’s not overnight.
We need to get to the youth when they are lucid. There is a brief window of time when they are coming down and before the need to use again. We need to get to them when they are at that point. Juvenile detention is not restorative and the Ontario Treatment Centres are far away from Kingston.
We need one here. I envision a facility at Collins Bay farm (southwest quadrant) that could combine equine therapy, animal rescue, and farm work for youth. Healing Centered Engagement modalities (e.g., animal therapy, arts, music, etc.)
- It could be the KFLA Healing Centre for youth 14 to 24 years of age.
- Programming would be customized to cognitive development, but also to the types of trauma experienced and substance use.
- It would involve immediate transitional housing as a first step for youth who can’t be at home, and 24/7 wrap around care.
- It needs to be local, and flexible. There are peaks and valleys of wellness for youth with substance use issues… they can’t go to the back of the line if they pick up and leave. They need to be welcomed back as soon as they are ready.
- Therapy should be family focused as well as youth-centered when the family influence is positive.
We need more use of ACEs – Adverse Childhood Experiences for screening in schools for early detection and prevention
Sexual harassment is a big issue. And substance use is a gendered issue. It impacts women differently and more severely.
We need more education for parents. Parents need to know what early drug use looks like and early behaviours of addiction. We need a better understanding of the link between mental health and addiction, whether it is both together or if mental health is a precursor to addiction.
Kids are using drugs to escape. They don’t feel wanted, they have anxiety, they have academic pressures, they may be LGBTQ and not accepted by their families. They may be caught in the web of intergenerational trauma, mental health issues and addictions. They may be Indigenous and curious about their culture but their family may be fearful of identifying.
In my research, I’ve been amazed by the hope that youth still have for life despite early trauma and poor living situations.
Fentanyl is just one piece, crystal meth, coke/crack and Xanax are big issues too. Naloxone is not going to help with those unless there is a contamination issue.
The justice system is completely out of touch with what youth need to heal… it’s punitive. Breaching is a spiral to incarceration without mental health and addictions supports. Breaching parole is a barrier to getting help and creates an impossible situation for families who have to be the ones to get police involved.
A Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) is needed for NEET (not employed or in school) youth who may be dealing with mental health and addictions issues, who are not likely ready for school and employment before wrap-around care. BIG avoids chronic disability through dignity.
For the addict and their family/community, we need to break stigma. We need ways to share – healing circles – and more community resources like One Roof Youth Hub and/or Pathways to Education (KCHC) and/or Boys and Girls Cub (make access universal).
We need public education and awareness to break stigma around intergenerational trauma and poverty, mental health and addictions.
We need to celebrate successes rather than highlight tragedies.
In the end, the solutions to mental illness and addictions are complex, but there are international models to draw on, and public health is in an interesting position to broker collaboration local/regional to upper levels of government and across disciplines. The mapping we do with deprivation indices and other risks can help guide the way. It all takes political will. Political will involves bravery when staring down society’s darkest troubles. In the Victorian Era, public health led to massive overhauls of water safety, sanitation, housing stock…. Along with the climate emergency, maybe public heath could declare an intergenerational trauma emergency, and mobilize public support to save our children.
Everyone is concerned about the economy. The Greens have an incredible policy platform called Mission Possible that is the most robust plan to tackle the climate emergency brought forward by any Canadian political party. It meets and exceeds the targets of the New Green Deal (US) and the Pact for a Green New Deal (Canada). The plan will be paid for through divestment from fossil fuel industries, and we will achieve revenue neutrality through carbon pricing that will go directly into the pockets of Canadians. Our emission targets are the only ones in line with the call by the IPCC report of 2018, a 60% reduction by 2030, and net zero by 2050. The other parties’ interim emission targets are not robust enough.
Mission Possible will also translate into millions of Good Green Jobs across our country. In Kingston & The Islands, new jobs could be in the neighbourhood of 20 to 40K! Many of those jobs will be in home, business and institutional green retrofits to get our building stock up to net zero emissions, which helps the environment and saves on energy costs.
The Greens are the party of youth, of the future. We will invest $1.25 B per year, to create 160,000 youth employment positions in our Youth Community and Environment Service Corps – paid employment on local priority projects like energy retrofits or food security. New opportunities in the Green Economy
The Greens view collective bargaining is a human right, and are committed to working with trade unions and others to strengthen worker rights and safety in union and non-union work environments, as well as revisit back-to-work legislation.
Another concern is our relationship with the Anishinaabe, Haudenosonee, and other Indigenous Peoples with whom we share Turtle Island. Efforts towards reconciliation by their very definition involve reconciliation with the Lands, Waters and Air that we share, and all of the World’s creatures to whom we are custodians. This is written in the Two Row Wampum Treaty of 1613, the first ever treaty between Europeans and the Haudenosonee. Ecological stewardship is a fundamental prerequisite for this continuing friendship. The Greens will implement the 2010 UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples, respect the Treaty Rights in the spirit of Two Row Wampum, and work with Indigenous Peoples across the country to develop a plan and timeline to dismantle the Indian Act. I am committed to supporting Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre because language as central to culture, as well as language nests. As part of my commitment to Health and Well-being for All, I will work towards building an Indigenous Community Centre in our riding that focuses on healing and building community. Together, may we may learn to bring our world back into balance, for our children and their children to come.
I look forward to working with City Council, staff, and mayor Paterson on these important initiatives. Green is the Party of the Future. The Green Party of Canada’s platform is the most aligned with that of the City of Kingston’s.