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Shailene Panylo: Oshawa is ready

By Courtney Bachar

With the federal election less than two weeks away, the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) Oshawa candidate, Shailene Panylo, says Oshawa is ready for change.

“There’s a lot of frustration,” she says.

Panylo says people are ready and looking for someone who will stand up for them and push the issues that Oshawa’s had for a long time.

“This election is going to be paramount to how we are setting ourselves up for generations to come,” she says.

When the pandemic hit, Panylo says people were able to see that systems were not built to ensure that no one fell behind.

“We’re seeing the consequences of that. We are seeing an increase in poverty and mental health and addictions needs in our community,” she says, adding, there’s also an ever-growing affordability and housing crisis.

“The average house, at least in my neighbourhood, is going $100- to $200,000 over asking, and people are being outbid and trying to find a place to call home,” Panylo continues.

She says there’s a lot of people who have lived in Oshawa their entire lives who don’t want to leave but feel like they don’t have an option because of a lack of opportunity or an increase in ability to be able to afford basic necessities while they’re here.

“That to me is really concerning,” she says.

Further, Panylo says there’s also the younger demographic and students who struggle to access their education and find support, as well as seniors and elders who have been denied the respect and dignity they deserve in long-term care and retirement homes.

As someone who has personally struggled with mental health, Panylo says she’s no stranger to trying to navigate the mental health system.

“We need fully accessible mental health care,” she says.

“Across the map, we’ve really failed to set ourselves up,” she says. “We’ve known that there were issues for a long time and it’s a shame that it took an international emergency for us to really take a look at how the systems have not been built to be sustainable and resilient.”

Socially, Panylo says there’s a lot that needs to be done.

“It’s time we start acting with compassion and empathy, and meeting people where they’re at,” she adds.

Panylo says people are looking for someone who will stand up for them and push these issues forward.

When residents head to the polls on Sept. 20, Panylo says they should remember to “vote their values.”

“When you make your decision, know that you are making a decision for generations to come and not just for today or tomorrow,” she says.

“Vote for the future that we want and the Oshawa that we want to see.”

If elected, Panylo would be the first black woman that Oshawa has ever elected to any level government.

“There’s a lot of firsts that can come from this and we’d be quite literally be making history,” she says. “But, we’d also be given the opportunity to start undoing and planning ahead in a way that we really haven’t been my entire lifetime and for quite some time before that.

Panylo is a long-time resident of Oshawa. Adopted by an all-white family when she was a baby, Panylo says she had a very unique experience growing up in Oshawa.

“When I hit high school, I decided that I wanted to be part of the change,” she says, and went to work developing curriculum for anti-oppression, bullying and mental health workshops.