Affordability key issue as election campaign winds down
Province heads to polls Thursday to elect new government
Looking back, local candidates in the provincial election have seen a distinct pattern emerge from the public when it comes to wanting to know what they would do if elected.
People are asking about affordability, plain and simple.
Covering two all-candidates meetings in Stratford, the topic of affordability repeatedly came up in questions for the Perth-Wellington riding would-be representatives. While some of the fringe candidates backed away from the question or gave rambling, long-winded answers, it wasnâ€™t lost on those watching and participating in the forum which parties have a plan in mind.
For Jo-Dee Burbach of the NDP, sheâ€™s been hearing it about the lack of affordability throughout the campaign and believes her party is well equipped to handle the issue.
â€śFar and away, thatâ€™s the biggest thing Iâ€™m taking away from this campaign â€“ people are worried about the affordability factor of everything,â€ť she said. â€śThe NDP wants to see everyone paid a fair living wage, but we also want to do what we can to help keep costs down. Inflation happens and we canâ€™t control that but what we can do is come up with ways to help make things more affordable.â€ť
Conservative Party candidate Matthew Rae also stated that affordability tops the list of things heâ€™s been talking about with people during his campaign stops or when heâ€™s gone door-to-door chatting with people to find out whatâ€™s on their mind. And it doesnâ€™t matter what falls under the classification of affordability â€“ from houses to gas to groceries, everything has gone up â€“ Rae believes his party has the answers.
â€śWithout a doubt, thatâ€™s been the thing that has been top of mind for a lot of people that Iâ€™ve talked to during my campaign,â€ť he said. â€śPersonally, Iâ€™ve tried to go in with an open mind about where people are coming from and trying to understand how everything about this issue affects them. Being able to afford things like gas and groceries is something every single person can relate to, and the Conservatives know itâ€™s something that needs to be addressed.â€ť
Yes, there have been other topics. At the first all-candidates meeting in Stratford May 12, a slew of topics came up for debate: the divisiveness of the pandemic, addressing systemic racism in Ontario, and how they would advocate for protections to the rich agricultural lands in Perth County that are under a growing threat of urban expansion. But it all came back to affordability in some way.
Liberal Party candidate Ashley Fox said affordability touches every corner of the Perth-Wellington riding, but it also permeates into other areas not readily associated with it at first glance. She pointed out that health care and education have close proximal ties to affordability, and that none of it can be ignored any longer.
â€śI just came back from the northern part of the riding where I was meeting with some of our marginalized population, and they are affected by so many different factors,â€ť she said. â€śItâ€™s hard to see the toll that takes on people just trying to make it day to day. But you canâ€™t lose sight of the fact that the pandemic has exposed so many things: a mismanaged health care system and an under-funded education system. But people want to know how they can afford basic things, and we need to give them solutions to help answer their questions.â€ť
While all three were planning on shoring up support in the final days of the election, Fox did take the time to make a plea to the public for support â€“ not for her, but for the system.
â€śIf people realized how much a vote means to everyone other than themselves, it would open a lot of peopleâ€™s eyes,â€ť she said. â€śYou need to get out and vote â€“ itâ€™s that important.â€ť
Election day is Thursday, June 2, with the polls opening across the riding at 9 a.m. and remaining open until 9 p.m.