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Candidates talk seniors issues

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Oshawa candidates in this week’s provincial election gathered at the Oshawa Senior Citizen’s Centre John Street branch on May 30 to speak on various issues for the last time before the public casts their vote.

Incumbent MPP Jennifer French, PC Party representative Bob Chapman, Liberal candidate Makini Smith, and the Libertarian Party’s Jeannette Gory were in attendance.

Keeping the community safe for seniors was a topic of discussion.

Chapman explained some residents live in areas of the city that are indeed safe, but they do not feel so.

He said the key is for local municipalities and organizations, such as Durham Region Police, to educate the public on how to avoid dangerous situations.

With the impending legalization of marijuana, French admits there is “a sense of worry” among some seniors.

She also noted that many older citizens, who may not have access to the internet, feel they are left out from receiving information that helps them stay safe.

Gory said she doesn’t believe Oshawa is unsafe, but it may appear that way.

She said her party would ensure youth are given the skills and training they need to find quality jobs instead of being in potentially troublesome situations.

Through her communication with residents, Smith said many seniors would like to see more police presence in their neighbourhoods.

PC Party leader Doug Ford has promised a fully-costed platform would be released before election day.

In the hours after the OSCC event, the party added its platform through the “For the People: A Plan for Ontario” website.

Opposing parties have slammed the notion of what was released being a fully-costed plan.

Chapman said despite criticism, his party would be able to fully fund its platform.

Both Smith and French noted that their respective party platforms had been out for months and included full funding details.

“The NDP has the smallest projected deficit [in the first year] and it is fully-costed,” she said.

The Libertarian Party does not have a costed platform, Gory explained.

She said as a relatively small party, they do not have access to the “millions of dollars” of campaign funding that their adversaries do.

Stating that she is “not a politician, but a homemaker,” Gory said she is the “queen of her castle,” and the law in her home, but not the ultimate law – the province is.

“I can’t run a poker game in my home. I can’t rent out my basement to a student,” Gory stated, adding that while these aren’t necessarily things she wants to do, others may and they can’t.

She wants to repeal regulations that cause adults to have to “need permission” to live their lives and “legalisation that protects you from yourself.”

Long-term Care

French said all residents are somehow connected to long-term care.

However, she said Ontario currently has a “terrible system,” notably in Durham, which has a longer waiting list than the total number of beds in the region.

The NDP would implement a minimum standard of care of four hours per day for each long-term care home resident, and launch a full ‘find and fix’ inquiry into the murders of eight seniors by former nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer in homes in London and Woodstock.

Smith said her party would continue to make “critical investments.”

According to her, the Liberals have re-opened 23,000 long-term care beds slashed by previous administrations.

They have pledged to add 30,000 more over the next 10 years and invest $50 million to increase staffing levels.

Chapman, who is 65, said he is worried about his future and the future of others.

To him, Durham Region has become the “poor cousin” of the GTA in terms of long-term care funding.

He recalled meeting a woman whose sister was accepted into a home in Cobourg, which she was thankful for, but the family lives mostly in Oshawa.

He said this causes a lot of stress for all of those involved, and people should be able to access long-term care in the communities where their support systems are.

Gory said the long-term care sector needs more choices through ‘non-government entities’ and private clinics, as it would reduce waiting times and ‘government waste.’

Seniors housing

Smith said the Liberals have invested approximately $1 billion, to help seniors maintain their homes and keep them energy-efficient.

The Libertarians would ease up regulations on in-law and rental suites to allow seniors to find another stream of income.

Gory said they would also reduce land transfer fees to a flat rate of $275.

French reiterated the NDP would get on board with the federal government’s National Housing Strategy, build 65,000 affordable housing units and provide $3 million in seed money to invest in co-ops.

By increasing the province’s supply of housing, pressures of demand would be eased, Chapman says.

The Conservatives would focus on land planning and using surplus government lands to address housing needs.

Noting that some developers may be hesitant to build affordable housing because it make business-sense, Chapman said the province must provide builders with a “business plan that works.”