The campaign has kicked off for the 2022 provincial elections in Ontario, and Woodstein Media is speaking with candidates in its home riding of Perth-Wellington. This time, Ontario Party candidate Sandy MacGregor answered the questions. The other registered candidates will also get the opportunity to answer these questions. Please check out the related articles listed below.
WM: How will you advocate locally, and what actions can we expect to see at the party level to address the housing affordability and availability problems that are now happening locally and province-wide?
MacGregor: So, you are talking about housing for people who can’t afford those things? Is that what you are talking about?”
WM: Yes, affordability and availability for everyone because there’s not enough housing in our area, and the price is high?
MacGregor: I live in Mount Forest, so I know housing is a very high need for many people, especially affordable housing. Well, number one, we would like to reduce taxes. Something that the government today seems to keep on increasing. The cost of living. The cost of gas. The cost of carbon taxes and different things they keep putting on people and they can’t afford it, so we would like to cut those kinds of things, cut taxes. The carbon taxes especially to help people to be able to afford more things because … they are making a choice between groceries and affordable housing, which is not good, and I work in a high school where they have bags of food. I’ve taken bags of food to people in Mount Forest because they can’t afford their groceries even, so we need to do more to make things affordable for people.
WM: Housing leads to the subject of jobs because we have them available in this area, but it’s tough for workers to move here to fill those positions. How will you work to address this specifically?
MacGregor: Well, I’d like to have more affordable housing. We don’t have enough low-income housing for people, and that’s something I think we need in our area is low-income housing because, yes, we need to build houses and things like that, but there are too many people that are living together with two or three people. I’ve visited some people this past couple of weeks. They live together because they can’t afford to live separately. I’m going to discuss this with our party, and I think (Ontario Party leader) Derek (Sloan) has talked about this a bit, about having more affordable housing for people who can’t afford it.
WM: Under the broad umbrella of job and labour issues are labour protections, benefits, and paid sick days, especially for the gig and contract workers and others working in non-traditional roles as freelancers or self-employed workers. How will you advocate for those workers?
MacGregor: Okay, so you are talking about people who independently have their businesses, those kinds of things?
WM: Temporary workers, contract workers, part-time workers. Things like that.
MacGregor: Well, I’d like to see them have the accessibility to things like dental care. I know that the NDP is also talking about that, but I’d like to see, especially seniors and people like that, who need those types of things. I would like to see those things for seniors and people with low incomes who can’t afford a union job where they get all the benefits paid, so I’d like to see that kind of thing being brought in. People need it, and I think that comes by lowering taxes and lowering government control over many things and making things more affordable and allowing people to get these kinds of services that they need.
WM: One of the main pillars of pandemic recovery will likely be small business support? How will you advocate for local businesses if you are MPP?
MacGregor: I’d like to see a lot of local businesses get reimbursed possibly for what the government has put them through, closing their businesses and just causing them massive amounts of pressure to keep their businesses open, losing money and borrowing money … I would like to see something like that happen for these small businesses.
WM: Should ideas outside the box in Ontario, such as guaranteed basic incomes, be considered to help with some of the social issues constituents face?
MacGregor: Well, I think there are already things in place for people with disabilities. I would not like to see a basic income because I think that lowers the incentive for people to work hard at a job for their family, and I think we need to make those opportunities available for people, but I don’t think we need to guarantee income. I work in a high school, and there is nothing worse than telling a kid that you don’t have to work for something … I think that creates laziness. It creates a lack of self-worth, so I think we need to make jobs available, schooling available, scholarships available, and more scholarships for kids that can’t afford them, but I think we need not give things away. It creates a society dependent on the government, and I don’t want to depend on it.
WM: Homelessness has become a more visible issue in the region over the past ten years? What would you see your role as an MPP in tackling this issue?
MacGregor: Well, again, affordable housing and job training for people. I work in Kitchener. I know there are many more opportunities in Kitchener, but I’ve lived in Mount Forest now for nine years, and I’ve seen many people who don’t have opportunities. They need to get a job to get decent housing to feel good about themselves, and I would like to create more job creation for people and the housing situation to make them feel as though they are worth something to our community. Maybe even provide things that would give them a basic income for doing something around the community. Something that would make them feel good and work them into a better job by volunteering. In that case, I would have no problem giving them some money by doing things around the community.
WM: In light of the pandemic, issues with long-term care have been at the forefront of conversations recently. How will your party continue to address shortcomings in long-term care across the province, and how will you advocate for better services locally, getting more beds closer to people’s communities?
MacGregor: Absolutely, I have a 95-year-old mother I would like to have live near me, but waitlists are long for proper care. I would like to see more care for seniors. Again, community things that would maybe allow them to have people get the groceries for them … some community program that would enable them to get groceries when they need that kind of thing instead of going to the food bank feeling pressure. Maybe they could call a phone number, and there would be people who would be able to supply them with their basic needs but also, I would also like to see more long-term facilities. We have one in Mount Forest, which is very good, but I think we need more to care for some of these seniors, and I would advocate for that. It all goes back to affordable living but gives them the feeling that they belong and have affordable living. We need more of that—especially Mount Forest, in our area and all over the area, Listowel and Stratford.
WM: Like long-term care, the pandemic has also shone a light on problems with the healthcare system – availability of beds, services in rural communities and staffing issues were just a few issues? How will you advocate for Perth-Wellington when it comes to healthcare?
MacGregor: I believe that, and this is something that’s bothered me is this pandemic. Doug Ford has caused many people that have chosen not to, for whatever reason, to not take a vaccine to lose their jobs. We’ve lost thousands of nurses and people who work in Hospitals because of these archaic things telling people they have to have something or else they will lose their jobs … That would be the number one cause for things happening in hospitals right now, the shortage we have. I don’t believe the beds are as short as the hospitals and the government put out there, but I do think we are short of staff, and I think it’s because of the government’s mistakes and how they handled things in the pandemic.
WM: The opioid crisis is another issue related to healthcare that some people say is a pandemic of its own? What sort of advocacy will you provide residents of the region on this issue at the provincial level?
MacGregor: Well, although the government likes to put things in schools that make no sense. Teach children about different weird things. I think what they need to do is do greater education. I work in a high school. I worked with kids all my life. These kids constantly ask me questions about things in this world. They are not taught enough about what’s happening with the drug situation in our society today, and yes, opioids are an awesome problem. They’re everywhere, but the kids are always asking me. They are saying what do you know about this drug, and what do you know about this drug. Suppose we take more time to teach them about things like that that can harm them rather than, sorry, pronouns that mean nothing. Teach them proper things. Teach them how to avoid things in life that will hurt them and give them opportunities to succeed in this life. You can tell that I’m very excited when I talk about teenagers and the things they go through. I’ve seen drug abuse. I’ve seen it in school because I’ve dealt with it all my life. We need to educate our kids properly and give them the hope that they can have to live a good life without things like drugs.
WM: Climate change and environmental issues are always top of mind for many Canadians, especially when recently looking at the extreme weather conditions in provinces on both coasts. This is an issue facing all levels of government. What can constituents expect from you and your party on this issue?
MacGregor: Well, I believe the climate is changing. I’m not a climate alarmist. I do believe the climate has changed from the beginning of time. That doesn’t mean I don’t think we should continue to do things like recycling, reducing emissions in factories and things like that. Carbon taxing does not save one tree. All it does is put more money in the pockets of the government to spend on things … I know there are tons of sewage pumped into lakes and waters all the time. I would like to see something like that. More rules regarding keeping our water system clean to have drinking water rather than chasing these rainbows of climate change. Do something substantial.
WM: Agriculture is a massive part of life in Perth-Wellington. Locally I’ve heard concerns raised about the loss of farmland to development as the areas such as North Perth continue to grow exponentially. What will you do to preserve farmland?
MacGregor: Well, I think growth is a natural part of our society. I think that’s something that will continue. You can’t save all the farmland, but I think we need to assess when we take farmland, what it will do to the environment, and what it will do to the farming people out there … As far as the land goes, yes, we would be careful and do assessments before we take farmland or before we buy farmland, but I think also we have to realize that things are growing, and we have to move a little bit with society. Again, we need housing. We need things for people, so that’s a natural progression of things, but we would do our part to hopefully lower taxes for farmers and things like that to help them out.
WM: It’s something these communities need to be more connected.
WM: But there have been practical shortcomings for using it for commuting for things like work. The timing is not good, I’ve heard from many people, and I’m wondering if you will do any advocating to get that to be a little more practical for people?
MacGregor: You are talking public transportation, in that way?
MacGregor: That’s a big issue, right. Especially for small towns, Stratford is a little different, Listowel is a little different, and Mount Forest is small to do public transportation, but I would like to see something set up. We have so many people that travel. I travel to Kitchener every day for my job, and I know many people travel outside of Mount Forest for their job. Number one, we need to lower the gas price, but maybe we could investigate some job sharing or transportation sharing, a van or something going to Kitchener, something like that where fewer people would be travelling. I don’t know what the logistics of all that are, but that’s something I would like to see is have some transportation port of some kind where we could meet in this and set it up for Barrie or Kitchener or Fergus. Maybe we could give a tax cut to somebody who wants to start a business or something like that. That would be awesome.
WM: Any other words for the constituents of Perth-Wellington?
MacGregor: As I said, I’ve been involved with youth services all my life, working in group homes, I’ve worked in detention centres, and I’ve worked for the past 21 years in a high school dealing with youth, and I’m very concerned that they have a future and I think that the government of today, especially Ontario government is overreaching in a lot of areas and I would like to see less government control of schools especially when it comes to these programs they put in. These social programs are what I’m talking about. I would like to see them get back to more things like literature, mathematics, and science. Concentrate more on these things. There are so many days off these kids have these days for nothing. They go home and have a day where some kids can come, but most kids stay home. We need to spend more time teaching the basics rather than all these programs that are not that important, especially when it comes to morals. We need to leave that to the parents and not to the school. Schools need to teach proper things, and I think teachers generally agree with that. They want to teach their subject and make sure these kids can learn, which is my biggest thing, especially because I’ve worked with youth for so long. I want to do something. I’m 63. I’m getting up there now, but it’s an opportunity for me to invest in the youth of Ontario. That is the most important thing that I want to do.
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