The provincial and municipal elections this year will take place almost one after the other, with maybe a week or two of breathing room between campaigns.
Not only will the voting for our representatives at these levels of government overlap, but so do many of the issues that are relevant to Cornwall and the surrounding area.
Many of the most important challenges that local municipalities are facing right now can only be solved with the support of a strong provincial representative.
Housing has gotten a lot of press lately and rightly so. Without quick action now finding a home to rent will become more difficult than it already is, and for some, it is already impossible.
Cornwall and the United Counties of SD&G both need to pivot towards building more homes, but this is something that can be done more easily with provincial support. We saw just this past week an announcement of a new affordable housing complex being built on the north end of Pitt St. with the help of provincial funding and this is a good start.
Another issue that this region is facing that must be addressed by both provincial and local governments is the shortage of doctors. This past Monday representatives from the Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital (HGMH) in Alexandria made a presentation to United Counties Council about the impact that a shortage of doctors in the region is having on the way they deliver their essential services.
The presentation made by Dr. Nadia Kucherepa, Chief of Staff at HGMH showed that in Cornwall and the surrounding area about 117,000 families were being served by just 50 doctors and that currently 12,000 individuals have no family doctor at all.
Kucherepa further explained that due to doctors moving away or retiring in the near future 3,000 more individuals will find themselves without a family doctor over the course of this year.
A third and final important area where cooperation will be needed for progress to be made is on the issue of education, specifically rural education.
Over the past year, the United Counties has taken unilateral steps to promote their vision of rural education. They have hired consultants, commissioned a report, and have now asked that the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) reverse its decision to close one regional school in North Stormont, North Stormont P.S.
I can’t imagine that the UCDSB would be too thrilled with this proposal. North Stormont P.S. was a part of the Pupil Accommodation Review (PAR) process of 2016 which saw other regional schools like SJ McLeod close as well. These schools were selected for closure due to their low student population count and as a cost saving measure by the board.
The view of the Counties is that small towns rely on their local school as a centre for their community, a point I don’t disagree with.
These three issues will come up in the provincial and municipal elections and candidates will need to be ready for them.
As voters we too need to think about these issues, the results that we want, and which candidates are the best to get us there.
What do you think readers are the major issues facing us in the upcoming election season? Email me a Letter to the Editor at email@example.com