LKM riding candidates debate health care
Candidates from four political parties faced off at an all-candidates’ event that focused on health care issues, at the Wallaceburg branch of the Royal Canadian Legion on May 12. They included, from left to right, Todd Case (NDP), Brian Everaert (Trillium), Monte McNaughton (Progressive Conservative) and Anthony Li (Green). Moderator was Jeff Wesley. David Gough/Courier Press
Four candidates running to be the Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP were part of a debate at the Wallaceburg branch of the Royal Canadian Legion on Saturday afternoon.
Hosted by the Wallaceburg Walpole Island First Nation Health Coalition and the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, the debate focused on health care issues. The event was moderated by local municipal councillor Jeff Wesley.
The four candidates who took part were Anthony Li (Green), Monte McNaughton (Progressive Conservative), Brian Everaert (Trillium) and Todd Case (New Democratic Party).
There was no Liberal candidate in place for the riding when the debate was held. With no candidate available to defend the government’s record, most of the discussion put pressure on incumbent MPP Monte McNaughton. Candidates asking him about Doug Ford's plans and policies and when the Progressive Conservatives would release a fully-costed health care plan.
McNaughton promoted the work he has done in lobbying for the future of Wallaceburg's Sydenham District Hospital, even though he was in Opposition at Queen's Park.
“We secured a $7.3-million grant for that hospital to fund a new power plant that is going to be built there,” McNaughton said.
McNaughton said he also played a role in bringing in a new management team at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, noting that money was being used for a bloated management team rather than front-line services.
“And that was critically important for the future of the Sydenham hospital.”
McNaughton said if the PCs are elected, they would bring in 30,000 more long-term hospital beds across Ontario over the next four years.
Li said although the public health care system is free to Ontario residents, there are also hidden costs.
“There are astronomical wait times and things get delayed, who knows what goes on,” Li said.
“We don't want people to make money off of our bad health, that's unacceptable.”
Everaert said he is running to make sure the provincial health care system has a voice.
“The political parties have wreaked havoc on health care in Ontario,” Everaert said, noting MPPs are forced to vote along party lines.
“The people have to decide, not the bureaucrats.”
Everaert said he gets suspicious when he sees the province upgrading old hospitals.
“I can't help but wonder if they're upgrading the hospital to put it on the market to get rid of it from underneath us. This has happened many times over with the Liberal government. They like to sell off our assets,” Everaert said.
Case said he is both a fighter for rural Ontario and a relationship builder. He has served as mayor of Warwick Township for the past 17 years and has had more than one term as Lambton County warden.
Case said the NDP would invest in rural health care by keeping rural hospitals open. He said local hospitals will remain in public hands, something the NDP and he has been very clear about.
Case was also clear on other parts of the NDP health care platform.
“We are only the only party with a plan to introduce universal drug and dental coverage,” Case said.
The NDP plan is to create 2,000 hospital beds immediately, he said.
Among the issues debated included: local water wells being destroyed by wind turbine construction, Walpole Island hereditary chief selection versus electing a chief, women's health care, improving resident safety in long-term care levels, helping individuals with autism, health care costs of black shale in water wells, previous health care cuts, leader scandals, making the various parties aware of and recognizing First Nations hereditary chiefs, green energy and privatization of hospitals.
The provincial election is on June 7.