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Candidates Q and A: Pandemic lessons learned

Candidates from the four major parties were asked to respond to questions about key issues in the upcoming provincial election
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GuelphToday asked the candidates running for the four major parties in Guelph a series of questions about the upcoming election. Their answers will run nightly over the next two weeks. Responses were limited to 250 words. 

Tonight's question: 'What is the single biggest lesson to learn from the pandemic?'

Raechelle Devereaux, Liberal: 

On March 11, 2020, on the eve of the pandemic, I was at Queen’s Park watching leaders fight about whether or not there was a plan for the looming crisis. Despite the current government’s claims that they had a plan, as a healthcare leader in my community of Guelph, I knew this was simply not the case. 

Throughout the pandemic, it became clear that we are lacking transparent, open and authentic dialogue between the government and the populations they serve. The current government has underestimated peoples’ desire to be informed, which has only amplified our confusion and frustration amidst their chaotic decision making. We need to make information accessible, admit when mistakes are made, celebrates successes, and continuously engage with the residents of Ontario, especially during times of crisis.

This has been my approach to leadership at the Guelph Community Health Centre, and in my community based leadership. I commit to bringing the same authentic and transparent dialogue should I earn the privilege of leading change on behalf of Guelph at Queens Park. 

James Parr, NDP:

When faced with challenges, we can unite and overcome. I would love to see some of that teamwork directed towards improving our public healthcare system and tackling climate change in my generation. 

Mike Schreiner, Green Party:

The COVID-19 pandemic turned our lives upside down, forced businesses to close, and sent kids home from school. And it revealed the cracks in our systems of care, especially for the most vulnerable like our loved ones in long-term care homes.

The pandemic made it clear that we need to prioritize care over profits by phasing out for-profit LTC homes. And that we need to improve the poor working conditions and pay that are driving the staffing shortage in LTC. Because we know that the quality of work directly affects the quality of care. And our elders deserve so much better.

And what we learned from the tragedies in LTC is that there is no place for partisanship during a public health emergency. In the early days of the pandemic, there was a lot of cooperation among all four parties. We met to discuss the urgent actions that we needed to take. We all agreed to expedite the passage of bills that were required in those uncertain times. I was proud to have a seat at that decision making table during such an important time and to be a part of
historic cross partisan cooperation.

Unfortunately, cooperation started to break down when the government stopped following the advice of scientific experts. The Ontario Greens are calling for an independent public inquiry into the COVID-19 response as well as the designation of the Chief Medical Officer of Health as an independent officer of the legislature. Because there is no place for politics in public health.

Peter McSherry, Progressive Conservative: No response.