Thunder Bay Business

“Health Care, Housing & Highways: An MPP’s Take on Northern Needs”

- Submitted by Lise Vaugeois, MPP Thunder Bay - Superior North

It’s been just over a year since I was elected as the NDP MPP for Thunder Bay-Superior North with additional responsibi­lities as the Critic for Seniors and Injured Workers/WSIB. While there are many issues that I am working on, in NWO, three issues are top of mind: healthcare, housing, and highways.

Health Care: It is crucial that our health care system remain public so that that every Ontarian, whether living in a NWO municipali­ty or First Nations community, can access quality care without additional charges. In NWO we struggle to staff medical clinics. Bill 124 has made this problem worse by repressing wages and denying the right to collective bargaining. It has also particular­ly targeted people working in the female-dominated “caring” profession­s. The result has been a mass exodus of health care workers from the public system as they try to escape dystopian working conditions. We need policies, along with improved wages and working conditions, that will bring experience­d health care workers back to the public sector. We also need more funded spaces at NOSM to address the extreme doctor shortage. The province has the financial resources, but it will take continuous public pressure to make sure resources are spent on the public health care Canadians have fought for.

Housing: Almost all communitie­s in NWO are struggling to provide affordable housing and, in some cases, housing of any sort. When communitie­s don’t have housing available, health care and education workers who want to move there have nowhere to live. To facilitate the building of affordable housing, or “middle-level” housing, the province needs to stop downloadin­g costs onto municipali­ties and provide support for the building of affordable housing, including non-profit community-driven initiative­s, co-operative housing, and non-profit seniors’ residences.

Highways: There are currently loopholes allowing companies to self-regulate the training of drivers. The result is poorly trained drivers, with limited experience pulling heavy loads, and no training in winter-driving. But don’t blame the drivers! Many are new to the country and are paying high fees for training they are not receiving. Ontario could immediatel­y address these issues by clamping down on fraudulent practices, staffing inspection stations, and increasing the presence of the OPP on the highways. If trucks are taken off the road for violations, poorly run companies will be pushed to change their practices and improve safety for everyone. In good news, Minodahmun Developmen­t Company is planning to build a rest stop for truckers in Greenstone – something long identified as needed for safer travel on Highway 11.


First Nations/ Mining and reconcilia­tion: I want to celebrate the recent mining agreement made between Biitigong Nishnaabeg, the Town of Marathon, and Generation Mining.

The opening up of this mine was never a foregone conclusion. It is the result of years of relationsh­ip building, includes strong environmen­tal protection­s, land protected for traditiona­l economies, a fully funded guarantee of post-mining remediatio­n and has the support of all affected communitie­s. If other interests follow a similar path, there is hope for reconcilia­tion and, potentiall­y, a good life for everyone.

 ?? ?? Lise Vaugeois, MPP Thunder Bay
- Superior North
Lise Vaugeois, MPP Thunder Bay - Superior North

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada