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Candidates Q and A: What is the biggest issue?

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 do you see as the single biggest issue in this election?'

Raechelle Devereaux, Liberal: Affordability. It’s the biggest issue facing us in Guelph, and across Ontario, after an especially hard few years. From housing to food to fuel, more of us are struggling to keep up with rising costs of everything.

James Parr, NDP: In my opinion and experience, it is affordability, particularly of housing. We have spent the last few years watching large corporations maintain or increase their profits, while regular folks and small businesses have borne the brunt of inflation. If life continues to get unaffordable for the average Ontarian, our society and economy can no longer continue to thrive.

Mike Schreiner, Green Party:  To me, there isn’t one single biggest issue in this campaign. We are in housing, climate and mental health crises. However, the severity of the mental health challenges facing our young people is especially alarming. Everything is not ok. There are over 28,000 children & youth on waitlists for mental health care and wait times can reach up to 2.5 years. And unfortunately the pandemic has made things even worse. Our kids experienced social isolation and the loss of extracurricular activities. Anxiety and uncertainty of the constant back and forth between online and in-person learning. Their routines were disrupted. According to SickKids, over 70 per cent of school-aged children reported worsened mental health during the initial COVID-19 lockdowns Mental health is health and help should be available when and where kids need it. The Ontario Greens would:

1. Reduce children and youth mental health wait times to 30 days or less by hiring more frontline workers

2. ensure students can seamlessly connect to community mental health professionals that are located at or near schools.

3. Invest in Youth Wellness Hubs like The Grove here in Guelph to have at least one in each community across Ontario.

4. Ensure that mental health, wellness and resiliency training is included across the entire education system. Including implementing a comprehensive curriculum that covers issues such as mental wellness, coping skills, and stress management. After four hard years, we need to look after our kids. I’m ready to provide the leadership to make it happen.

Peter McSherry, Progressive Conservative: No response.