Editor's note: Ahead of the Sept. 20 federal election, BarrieToday has contacted all of the candidates in the Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte riding with five questions related to the local opioid crisis, COVID-19 vaccine passports, Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations, climate change, and affordable housing. The following answers were received from Sarah Lochhead, the NDP candidate in Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte. More candidate Q-and-A's can be found on our Canada Votes 2021 page.
1. For the past several years, Barrie has had a devastating drug crisis, one of the worst in the province. How do you think the opioid problem should be addressed and what is your stance on the proposed supervised consumption site (SCS) here in the city?
This devastating crisis needs to be addressed for what it is – a public health emergency.
The Liberals have not declared it as such nor have they taken any steps to investigate the role that drug companies may have played in fuelling the crisis.
It is paramount that those suffering from addiction can access the help they need without fear of arrest as well as access to a safe supply of medically regulated alternatives to the toxic street drugs that are causing these deaths.
A supervised consumption site is key to tackling this health emergency and a proven practice for harm reduction.
2. As we brace for a fourth wave of COVID-19 and a more aggressive delta variant, many are suggesting Canada should embrace a vaccine passport. What is your view on this?
We have a social responsibility to keep our most vulnerable people safe and that includes disclosing vaccination status through documents such as a vaccine passport for COVID-19. It’s time to embrace this as a next step for our collective public safety.
It is not a “new” concept, for example, as a mother, I’m required to provide immunization records for my child when applying to daycare. A vaccine passport should be able to be used both domestically and abroad and should be able to be accessed easily. While there are circumstances where people have legitimate medical reasons for not being able to receive the vaccine, this is all the more reason why those of us who can, should do so now to help mitigate the impact of the fourth wave on our families and the health-care system.
3. We are a rich country in many ways, but many Indigenous reserves still don't have clean drinking water. The tragedy of residential schools has ripped open the hurt and trauma many of our Indigenous families have felt for generations. Many of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations remain unheeded. How would you address these issues and help heal these wounds?
In partnership with Indigenous peoples, a New Democrat government will fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action.
The Liberals promised to lift all drinking water advisories by 2021 and failed. We will make the necessary investments to ensure clean water and safely lift all advisories for good.
We will fully fund the search for grave sites at former residential schools, along with maintenance, commemoration, reburial and protection of residential school cemeteries according to the wishes of Indigenous families, residential school Survivors and communities.
To bring about truth, accountability and justice, a special prosecutor will be appointed to pursue those who inflicted great harm on Indigenous children in Canada’s residential school system. Churches and governments will be required to hand over records to help identify the children who lay buried in unmarked graves, or in finding individuals who were involved in their deaths.
In recognition of the need for special supports to address the inter-generational impacts of colonialism and residential schools, a New Democrat government will support and fully fund community-driven solutions for healing, including projects similar to the former “Aboriginal Healing Foundation."
4. Recently, a major scientific report warned of increasingly extreme heat waves, droughts and flooding, and a key temperature limit being broken in just over a decade. Scientists say it’s a "code red for humanity." What tangible ways will your party address climate change in both the short- and long-term?
The New Democrats are committed to tackling the climate crisis head on. The effects of this crisis disproportionately impact our most vulnerable communities and so it is important that any actions work to also address these inequalities.
We are committed to creating an Office of Environmental Justice to keep these disproportionate impacts of pollution and loss of biodiversity on low-income, racialized and other marginalized communities front and centre as we move to address this crisis. This includes investing in green infrastructure such as doubling the Canada Community-Building Fund and developing a public inter-city bus program.
Improving transit and getting our transportation infrastructure right will create jobs, strengthen communities, and reduce our carbon footprint.
There is no shying away or pushing back dates to meet important targets and the New Democrats are not afraid to take bold measures to get us where we need to be. By 2030, we are committed to enshrining in law an Environmental Bill of Rights and protecting 30 per cent of our land, freshwater and oceans; eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, introduce carbon budgets as a means to
reduce our emission by at least 50 per cent from 2005 levels, and reach a target of net carbon-free electricity by 2030.
By 2040, we will move to 100 per cent non-emitting electricity and retrofit all buildings in Canada by 2050.
5. Housing is a human right, but many people in Barrie are not able to afford a roof over their heads. The cost of living continues to rise while the price of housing and rent skyrockets well beyond affordability for the average person. What would your party do to
Personally, owning a home feels like a dream that is out of reach, but that shouldn’t be the case.
It’s important to make sure everyone can afford a place to call home. Average rents rose in every single province last year, and 1.6 million Canadian households spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing. A New Democrat government will create at least 500,000 units of quality, affordable housing in the next ten years, with half of that done within five years.
In order to kick-start the construction of co-ops, social and non-profit housing, and break the logjam that has prevented these groups from accessing housing funding, we will set up dedicated fast-start funds to streamline the application process and help communities get the expertise and assistance they need to get projects off the ground now, not years from now.
To spur the construction of affordable homes we will waive the federal portion of the GST/HST on the construction of new affordable rental units. We will make home ownership within reach by re-introducing 30-year terms to CMHC insured mortgages on entry-level homes for first time home buyers and doubling the Home Buyer’s Tax Credit to $1,500.
This will allow for smaller monthly payments, freeing up funds to help make ends meet for young families.
For more information on Lochhead's campaign, click here.