With a strong turn-out of Sault citizens numbering around 80 people, the Sault & Area Health Coalition hosted an all (by-election) candidate forum on public health care at the Marconi Hall, May 23, 2017.
Candidates were asked 5 scripted questions, as developed by the Sault & Area Health Coalition through public consultation forums held earlier in March and April, 2017.
The by-election candidates had 2 minutes with which to answer each of the following questions posed by Moderator, Jeff Arbus:
Question 1: Issue – Public Health – Public Funds.
‘What is your party’s position on the privatization of health services?’
Question 2: Issue: Home Care
‘What will your party do to increase access to homecare across Ontario? – What will you do to promote a public – non-profit homecare system to meet the needs of our community?
Question 3: Issue – Long-term Care Homes and Wait lists.
‘Will you support and actively promote a 4 hour standard of care minimum in long-term care homes? What will you do to ensure more permanent long-term beds for those waiting for accommodation?
Question 4: Issue – Hospital Funding & Over Crowding.
‘What is your party’s position on creating stable, multi-year public hospital funding that will meet inflation, population growth, aging and utilization rates? As our MPP what will you do to retain and expand hospital services and improve patient care at the Sault Area Hospital.
Question 5: Issue – Mental Health Services – especially for children & youth.
‘What will you do to address children’s mental health concerns in Sault Ste. Marie.’
An opportunity for ‘Questions from the Floor’ took place, with several individuals coming to the mic to express concerns about issues including mental health, support for PTSD for front-line workers in stressful professions, hallway (SAH) hospital medicine and overcrowding, maternal health, home care services, assistive devices and long term care choices, visa vie seemingly endless wait lists.
Superior Media spoke with one of the people who stepped up to the mic, Mr. James Kempe, who raised concerns for reliable and affordable mental health support. Mr. Kempe has been a correctional officer in the province of Ontario for 31 years, and has witnessed a mental health system consistently failing to meet the needs of emergency and law enforcement professionals. “11 first responders in the north have committed suicide since January 1st, 2017.” he stated.
One particular evening, at 8:00 pm, Mr. Kempe reached out for help and telephoned the Sault Area Hospital crisis line. He got an answering machine.
Saultonline’s interview with Mr. Kempe is here:
The Sault Ste. Marie by-election is set for June 1, 2017. Advanced polling runs through until 8:00 pm on May 26th, 2017. For locations, go here: www.elections.on.ca
Special ballot voting continues at the Sault Ste. Marie returning office until May 31st, 2017 – 6:00 pm.
Election day, June 1st, polls will be open from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.
Elections Ontario is here: www.elections.on.ca