Editorial note: As Ontarians head to the polls for the Thursday, Jun. 2, 2022 provincial election, we want to be your one-stop home base for everything you need to know in the Kingston area ridings. As part of this coverage, we’ve created profiles for each candidate (pending candidate availability) in Kingston and the Islands, Hastings—Lennox and Addington, and Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston. For these profiles, each candidate was asked the same list of questions, the responses to which we’ve compiled into an easy-to-read Q&A format, with additional links for more information. To view all of the profiles and additional election coverage, visit Kingstonist’s Provincial Election 2022 page.
Marlene Spruyt is the Green Party of Ontario candidate for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston (L-F-K) in the 2022 provincial election. Spruyt has a wealth of knowledge in the health care and public health sectors, having served as a family physician as well as a Medical Officer of Health for Public Health Ontario. She is also a lifelong environmentalist, according to her website, and “has become progressively more alarmed at the lack of action with respect to minimizing the harmful effects of climate change.” Spruyt feels that, in order to create meaningful change in terms of climate action, “broader and stronger policy shifts at all levels of government” are needed.
What made you decide to run in this provincial election?
During my career as a family physician and Medical Officer of Health, I have become more concerned about the negative health and economic impacts of poverty and climate change. I felt that those two issues needed more public attention, and the Green Party offered the perfect opportunity to do so.
In your opinion, what is the most important issue being discussed during this election?
As always, health care is an important issue across the province. The cracks in the system have been magnified during the pandemic. Issues with access to mental health services, long-term care, home care, services for individuals with chronic diseases and disabilities, and surgical backlogs have touched everyone in the province.
Is there one particular issue you would like to champion if elected to represent L-F-K?
An issue very important to me is that of support for individuals with disabilities. ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) rates are legislated poverty, [and] opportunities for gainful employment are limited due to poorly accessible buildings [and] streets and lack of accessible transportation.
In your opinion, what is the biggest issue with the current makeup of the provincial government?
Biggest problem with our current provincial government makeup is our first-past-the-post system. Proportional representation would offer more opportunities for government to collaborate, and would minimize the costly impacts when one party reverses things the previous party has implemented.
If you could share one message with voters in L-F-K, what would it be?
To L-F-K voters: Do not neglect voting because you think the history of this riding suggests that the same party will remain in place. In previous elections, 40 per cent of voters did not bother to engage. Every vote counts, and community values change.
What do you feel is one of the most overlooked issues for your riding?
L-F-K residents may not fully realize the economic impacts of climate change. Heat waves will increase energy costs, as well as health impacts of heat stroke, especially in vulnerable populations. Drought and/or severe rainstorms will affect agricultural productivity, driving up food costs. Extreme weather events, like flooding and tornadoes, will cause damage to homes and businesses, affecting the cost of insurance, lost productivity, and increased mental health stresses.
For more information on Marlene Spruyt and the Green Party of Ontario, visit their website.