Two candidates from the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party spoke at an election roundtable event on May 17, hosted by the Jewish Federation of Ottawa in partnership with CIJA. All local candidates were invited to attend.
Both candidates, incumbent Jeremy Roberts for Ottawa West-Nepean and Scott Healey for Ottawa Centre, spoke in detail about experiences within the Ottawa Jewish community, including such agencies as the Bess and Moe Greenberg Family Hillel Lodge and Tamir.
“I was recently at Hillel Lodge and had a wonderful conversation with people, who expressed their desire to maintain their cultural experience,” said Healey, in response to a question about cultural preservation in long-term care.
“The pandemic exposed a lot of shortcomings in many of our institutional systems,” he continued. “The government is committed extensively to improving long-term care with enormous investments in beds, staff, and instructions, as well as those specific areas about cultural importance, to ensure people get the right placement.”
Roberts spoke about the numbers, with the PC Party having approved funding for 30,000 long-term care beds across the province.
“We’re making tremendous progress in addressing these pieces — beds, staff. In the 10 years before 2018, there were only 611 net new long-term care beds across the province. That’s staggering because we know we’d have a big demand for those beds,” said Roberts. “There are already 10,000 beds under construction.”
Roberts also looked at the “Hillel model” as something to be replicated elsewhere, including most recently in the Greater Toronto Area for the Chinese community there.
“Our ministry has taken models like Hillel Lodge, which is a fantastic success story on how to do culturally appropriate long-term care, and expanded that model province-wide.”
On another important Jewish Ottawa organization, Tamir, Roberts was able to speak personally, as he has a brother with special needs. He spoke specifically about a recent proposal for funding for an Integrated Living Centre (ILC). While Roberts is a passionate supporter of the Tamir ILC, he was asked why the government did not move forward with the $5.1M that had been approved by the previous government.
“We’ve worked with Tamir to realign the proposal for the integrated living centre with the needs of the community — units for medically complex individuals, children, and youth. That proposal has gone again into the ministry and is under review to receive funding. I’m going to keep fighting for that.”
Both candidates also spoke about their strong commitment to combatting antisemitism and endorsed the IHRA definition of antisemitism. Roberts added that the party is also committed to supporting the State of Israel and Healy spoke about a moving trip to Israel.
“The government has mandated compulsory anti-bullying policy, including specific references to anything from religion,” said Healey, who is a Canadian Armed Forces veteran. “The government is very committed to this. As a representative for you, I would be working to ensure that this was included within the education system.”
“Having people who share that commitment is so important,” he said, referencing an antisemitic incident in an Ottawa school that he dealt with by being able to call Education Minister Stephen Lecce firsthand.
To watch a recording of the roundtable, visit here: https://youtu.be/smSo6y9XMTA