The Leader met with NDP candidate Elaine MacDonald on September 16th to discuss the upcoming election on October 6th.
MacDonald got started in politics through volunteering and getting involved in different issues at work. Initially, many of her accomplishments were in defense of women and worker rights.
She pointed out that “systems evolve and sometimes people get lost in the shuffle.” MacDonald felt drawn to help make things better for those around her.
As a founding member of the Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry Coalition for Social Justice, she is a strong advocate for every person’s right to be heard.
In touring Stormont, Dundas, and South Glengarry and talking to constituents, she discovered that the government programs put into place to help people are, in many situations, causing difficulty with unrealistic expectations coupled with a lack of concrete assistance.
Among the many people she has met, there are those who are working multiple minimum wage jobs trying to pay for essentials. They’re “not just treading water, but falling behind.”
She believes that today’s climate “blames the poor” for being poor when, in fact, that is not the case.
When asked how she planned to address the issue of poverty, MacDonald stated that the NDP “platform hasn’t been released yet.”
However, she did share that her party plans to “ensure more affordable housing” which will, in turn, “equate to more disposable income.”
In addition, upon being elected the NDP intend to “raise minimum wage to $11 per hour right away.” MacDonald claims that the NDP will then, “index it to inflation from here on in” with the “same (being done for) WSIB and ONDSP.”
Continuing the discussion on poverty, the Leader questioned MacDonald about the Poverty Free Ontario debate at the Agape Centre on September 15th where she was condemned for her refusal to participate in the Do the Math Challenge, which challenged candidates to eat from a food bank basket for five days.
MacDonald, who admits that she is “a bit plain spoken” told the Leader that: “I rarely commit to something I don’t think I can do.” She believes that “to do (the challenge) honestly, you have to be able to give it some attention.”
“It’s extremely complicated. You have to watch what you eat.” Logistically, she couldn’t commit to giving the challenge the attention and dedication she believes it deserves.
Moving the discussion back to the main issues for people of this riding, MacDonald focussed on jobs, taxes, healthcare and other public services.
She pointed out that “people rely on public services” and government “has to stop rationing them.”
In addition, she brought attention to the fact that “people are falling through the cracks.”
One example: “66 per cent of complaints from people who didn’t get their full wages (worked for) companies that were actually solvent.”
MacDonald points out that in a lot of cases, individual people are being taxed while the corporations are getting the breaks.
“So many of our policies advocate for people in the counties.” These include policies in healthcare, education, and jobs. For instance, MacDonald’s NDP plan will “reward job creators with up to $5,000 per year.”
When asked what voters need to know most about her, MacDonald stated: “I am a progressive woman who wants to see government move in the direction of the triple bottom line: that is that we base our decisions on environmental and social values as well as financial. That is the way to develop a sustainable economy.”
During the interview with MacDonald, she referred to 211. She later expressed concern that people be made aware of the phone number, which connects Ontarians with information and referrals to community and social services in their province. The website is www.211ontario.ca.
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath visited the riding on September 20th at MacDonald’s campaign office in Cornwall.