Six Questions with Mary Rita Holland of the Ontario NDP

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.

Kingston and the Islands electoral district map, 2022. Image via Elections Ontario.

Mary Rita Holland is the Ontario New Democratic Party candidate for Kingston and the Islands. She is a city councillor who was first elected to represent the Kingscourt-Rideau district in 2014 (she discussed her decision to run for NDP leadership in the riding and what that means for her current tenure as a councillor earlier this year). She has served as the co-chair of the Mayor’s Task Force on Affordable Housing. Holland has a PhD from the Queen’s School of Kinesiology and Health Studies with a focus on long-term care, a Masters of Public Administration (MPA) in social policy, a Master of Arts (History), and a Bachelor of Arts (English/History), and she teaches at Queen’s University. She has served on the boards of KFL&A Public Health and Kingston Access Services, and is continually conducting vital research and analysis on how we can improve our public health systems and, in turn, our communities. She lives in Kingscourt and has a daughter, Ailsa.

Mary Rita Holland is the Ontario New Democratic Party candidate for Kingston and the Islands. Submitted photo.

Why did you decide to run in this provincial election?

I have been on City Council now for seven years. Some of the issues that I am most involved in and care most about involve affordable housing, caring for people who are struggling in the community, and some health care-related issues. I’m on the board of Public Health, as well. So, it seemed like a great opportunity to go and do that work provincially and get the funds that we need to make lives better.

In your opinion, what is the most important issue being discussed during this election? 

The issues that people are focused on at the door obviously are most important, because that’s where they’re at. Two are in the top category, but they are related: health care and affordability. The health care piece really has to do with the fact that people have seen a decline in service, and they’ve seen poor working conditions and not enough staff. And so what they really want is to see a transformation and lots of investment in our publicly-funded health care system.

Is there one particular issue that you would like to champion if elected to represent your riding?

I’m hearing a lot of people talk about the needs of people who are currently unhoused and those who are struggling with addictions and mental health issues. And we’ve seen a lot of that in Kingston. The Integrated Care Hub’s model of wraparound service delivery for people who are struggling and who are unhoused is something that I’m most passionate about. It’s pretty clear that the size of that facility does not meet the need, so we need more investment there, for sure. That’s something that I care about, but I’m hearing about it at the door all across the riding as people recognize that need, as well.

What would you say was one of the most overlooked issues in the riding?

In terms of conversations that I’m having, I would say climate action. It’s what I hear about a lot on City Council, so I’m just really used to focusing a lot of attention on that issue. I think the reason we’re not talking about it a lot in this election campaign is that people are struggling so much with affordability issues right now, so that’s top of mind. Our platform seeks to address affordability issues through investments in health care by saving people thousands of dollars, bringing OHIP coverage to things like mental health, dental health, and prescription drugs. I think the plan that we have really suits what people are talking about, but not as many people at the door are talking about the climate emergency as I would have thought.

Lastly, if you could share one message with the voters in your riding, what would it be?

The message I would share would be that I have experience. I have done the work of representing people in Kingston and the Islands in my role on City Council, and I’m very used to meeting people where they’re at, listening, having those conversations, and working with colleagues to get results. And so, I think my nonpartisan background on City Council would lend itself well to being a really effective legislator at Queen’s Park, where I can work with colleagues all across the province and across party lines to do what’s best for Kingston and the Islands.

You can learn more about Mary Rita Holland by checking out her website.

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