Brandon: How would your party support rural education, and what is your stance on the closure and amalgamation of rural schools?
Jacqueline: Well one of the key issues that the Greens and Mike Schreiner support is the 15-minute community – communities where all basic needs of the individual are close by, you know, by a quick walk or bike ride. Rural schools, of course, are the hub of all communities. In fact, this is one of the issues that attract families to relocate and stay in a community. With some creative thinking, the Greens intend to provide solutions that will keep our rural students close to home with the people they love. For example, we’re on board for incorporating perhaps a branch of the community library opening in the evening at the school location, or a youth meeting place, or a seniors’ gathering place, and perhaps even a health clinic.
Brandon: What would your party do to support small businesses and local commerce?
Jacqueline: Of course, this is really important to everybody in the community, as well as the Greens. Small business and local commerce are vital for the local community in that they have, close at hand, what people need when they need it. Furthermore, it supports lightening our carbon footprint. Also, very importantly, on average, two thirds of every dollar spent in the community with local businesses stays in the community with local businesses and supports that economy.
The Greens would support also, with green retrofit programs, to reduce home comfort costs and business comfort costs, and are lobbying to increase the amount of staycation tax credits to expand those credits to include dining in restaurants. And the Green Party supports Ontario entrepreneurs to build world-leading clean businesses in energy storage and smart transit.
Brandon: North Dundas is a growing community. Are there any projects that would be investment priorities for the province locally?
Jacqueline: With North Dundas’ proximity to Ottawa, I would imagine there’s been exponential growth in North Dundas over the past few years. I cannot say what the investment priorities for the province are locally. However, I know the Green Party platform includes a plan to tackle the housing crisis, which I’m sure is affecting everybody all over the different counties, address climate change, and improve our health care system. The Green Party is committed to finding new solutions to old problems, and the complete platform can be found at GPO.ca/platform.
Brandon: You mentioned housing. What is your take on the affordable housing crisis locally and what is the solution?
Jacqueline: Crisis. That’s my take. There’s a desperate need for affordable housing, transitional housing, and emergency housing throughout the counties. The Greens have an ambitious plan to build livable, affordable communities where everyone has a place to live. The plan is based on three pillars. Connected – like supporting the 15-minute community neighbourhood. Affordable – their plan is building 100,000 new affordable units to support renters and pathways to new home ownership, and reducing speculation to put homes for people first. Sustainable – a $5 billion plan to be invested over ten years for a green building program, which will create hundreds and thousands of Ontario jobs, which will save energy and money and will address the climate crisis by reducing emissions.
The Greens have many strategies to address Ontario’s housing crisis, building inclusive neighbourhoods where we can live, work and play, and building and maintaining an affordable housing supply. We need to build, immediately. a more affordable housing supply, including rental units. We need to protect the supply we have and ensure tenants are not unfairly evicted. Ending chronic homelessness – this requires a housing first approach before connecting people to other supports they need, and to provide stability and security for renters; revised regulations to adequately protect tenants and landlords, and strengthen rental regulations to protect renters from crazy rent hikes and building maintenance. It’s a huge challenge.
Brandon: How would you support the largely rural population of this riding in being heard at Queen’s Park?
Jacqueline: Well, one of my responsibilities as MPP of Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry is to meet with constituents, listen to their concerns, and help to resolve matters related to provincial government services. As a new MPP, you can imagine I would be on this steep learning curve, which I’m prepared to do. I am making the commitment to assist the people in this riding. I might not be experienced as an MPP, but I am experienced helping people in my community.
Brandon: Are there any issues that locals have touched base with you about that you intend to bring forward if elected as MPP?
Jacqueline: Yes, I shared some correspondence with a farmer from Inkerman. She shared with me the unprecedented levels of risk and uncertainty that farms like her’s face day in and day out. This leaves her very concerned about the future of her farm and farming, and food production in Ontario, and the security of Ontario’s food supply. And, of course, this is so, so important. Food security and healthy local food supply is very important to all Ontarians. We must do what we can to support the health of our farmers with such things as mental health supports, which this one farmer specified. It was a particular specific issue that she mentioned, with all the risks and uncertainty they deal with on a seasonal basis, and support them with the tools and policies to ensure a healthy future for them and for all Ontarians.
Brandon: Have you heard from a lot of different people or just a few so far?
Jacqueline: That is one example. I also heard from a number of people very concerned about access to medical services, such as the people either afflicted with, or familiar with someone dealing with, lung cancer. And, apparently, they have to go quite far afield to get the testing they require. I have made a commitment, should I be elected as MPP, to bring this up, to make those services more easily accessible to the people dealing with this matter.
Brandon: Do you believe the COVID 19 pandemic is still of concern locally?
Jacqueline: Well, some people are concerned and others are not. I know of more people who have had COVID recently, rather than any other time during this pandemic. I think it’s important for us to follow some of the basic routines that we’ve been given, such as hand-washing, congregating outdoors, and maintaining a healthy exchange of air indoors. Most importantly, I think it’s really important to heed the advice of our medical and scientific experts. Personally, I wear a mask in crowded areas to protect you and the people I’m around, and to protect myself. I don’t think it’s the time to let our guard down, shall I say.
Brandon: Is there anything else you want to say?
Jacqueline: Well, I would like to say that I think a vote for the Green Party of Ontario is a vote for the future of our community, and for our children.