Blake Ellis/Local Journalism Initiative
Cost of living, health care and affordable housing will continue to be major concerns for Sarnia-Lambton and its Member of Parliament Marilyn Gladu.
Gladu, says inflation was a concern for most of 2022 as everyone dealt with rising costs. She said there are things, which can be done to help curtail inflation, the first being suspending the tax on essential items like home heating and groceries. “The Liberal government can also stop its inflationary spending which has driven inflation,” she said. Inflation around the world has skyrocketed in wake of the pandemic. Canada has the 12th highest inflation rate, including below Britain, Australia and the US and sits around seven per cent.
Rising costs have made the physically challenged and seniors especially vulnerable, says Gladu. The cost of housing, including renting, has nearly risen sharply, Gladu says and she wants to see the federal government partner with the province and municipalities to continue to create more housing.
Gladu also wants the government to get more international health care professionals vetted to allow them to practice to help ease the crisis in health care. Across Ontario, small rural hospitals have closed emergency departments because of lack of staff and larger hospitals were pressed to the limit in the late fall when COVID, RSV and the flu hit children particularly hard. Gladu says there are doctors who have come to Canada who are driving taxis and doing other jobs because their credentials haven’t been recognized in Canada.
“The provinces are doing the best they can,” said Gladu. The federal government has provided 75 percent of the province’s health care costs in the past. With inflation, that has dropped to 25 percent. “That is a huge gap.” The federal government has said it will not increase funding to the provinces without guarantees of having the cash spent on patient care.
Gladu added it took the federal government far too long to respond to parents concerns about lack of basic children’s medications. It was only after the Conservatives raised the issue – she says – that the government issued emergency orders to bring more product into Ontario.
There were successes in 2022. Gladu’s private members bill to protect employee pensions passed unanimously. The bill would prioritize pensions and protect the funds when a bankruptcy occurs. It’s expected to pass in the Senate in February. She is especially proud of this accomplishment when it becomes law because only 40 members of parliament have had two private members bills passed and she will be among them.
Gladu was also pleased to see the use of the ArriveCan app to become optional when going through customs last September.
With her riding being along the border, she called the app discriminatory, especially for those who don’t have a cell phone. She even knows of people who have received fines in error when those people were double and triple vaccinated.
Gladu was also pleased to see the ruling by Michigan Judge Janet Neff that the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline dispute as a federal case. This was also the opinion of the Canadian government and was a blow to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s attempts to have the pipeline shutdown over safety concerns.
The company wants to encase 6.4 kilometres of pipeline to replace the lines beneath the Straits of Mackinac. Line 5 runs between Superior, Wisconsin and Sarnia and carries crude oil and natural gas liquids used in propane and into Quebec. Gladu is hopeful the project will move ahead, however Michigan State officials are considering an appeal.
Gladu also made a submission to the Federal Riding Boundaries Commission in the fall. Under the riding redistribution, it is being proposed Sarnia-Lambton will be extended to include Walpole Island First Nation and the area of Chatham-Kent which will include Wallaceburg and the Dresden area, including Mitchell’s Bay. This will add 20,000 people to the riding and change the name to Sarnia-Lambton-Bkejwanong.
Gladu said the existing riding already falls within the required population range and asked the riding boundaries not be changed. She said with the bigger riding she would need to have a second constituency office in Wallaceburg. The Federal Riding Boundaries Commission is to give its recommendations on any changes in February.