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.
Dr. Shalea Beckwith is the Ontario Party candidate for Kingston and the Islands. She is a wife, mother, and general pediatrician and has lived in the Kingston area for over 15 years. She is also a Queen’s University alumna. According to the party, Beckwith has experience in leadership roles with Quinte Health Care as Chief/Medical Director of Pediatrics, and with the Ontario Medical Association. She has also done a variety of mission work, including fundraising to build a hospital in Kenya for orphaned children.
What made you decide to run in this provincial election?
I was going to be on maternity leave this year, but I just feel compelled to get involved due to the concerns I see happening in our government, with decisions that are being made [and] bills that are being passed that are leading to an erosion of our constitutional freedoms. As well as the fact that [the cost of] living has become unbearable, and housing unaffordable, and our health care system is in need of additional and expanded resources… I really just believe in what the Ontario Party is doing. We are the fastest growing political party in Canada, and we actually have a robust slate of candidates for this upcoming election. Derek Sloan became the leader in December of 2021, and it has had rapid growth since then. We are a true conservative party. Our six pillars are freedom, family, faith, truth, transparency, and fiscal responsibility. We have excellent policies to protect our freedoms; to improve K-12 education and post-secondary education; to improve the cost of living and make housing more affordable again; to improve our health care system; to create jobs and careers; to decrease the cost of energy; and to bring accountability to our government and back to the people. We are for freedom, and freedom is for all people… I, if elected, would be a voice for every constituent in Kingston.
In your opinion, what is the most important issue being discussed during this election?
Our constitutional freedoms. I have seen an erosion of our constitutional freedoms from decisions that are being made at the governmental level. For one, vaccine mandates have led to an erosion of freedom of conscience, medical privacy, and bodily autonomy. I’m a doctor, and doctors are forced to refer [patients for] abortion and euthanasia against their conscience. We saw the Emergency Act being evoked against peaceful protestors, and so it’s just a variety of things happening that are concerning. I want to stand up and fight for the protection of our Charter Rights that are guaranteed to us as Canadians.
What is the single most common thing constituents bring up when you’re going door-to-door?
The main issue that comes up is the cost of living and housing affordability. We are definitely seeing an epidemic of inflation… people can’t afford to live the life that their parents and grandparents could live in this country, and that’s a major problem. Some of the [causes] for this are massive government spending and the lockdowns that have disrupted the supply chain, not only in this country but also around the world. These things have increased the cost of living and the price of housing, so we want to reverse this. We want to target sources of inflation. For our housing program, we would have a ban on foreign ownership of commercial and residential real estate in Ontario. We want to make sure only people who live and work in Canada are able to buy homes in Canada. We don’t believe that foreign investors should be owning 50 or 100 homes in Toronto and renting them at inflated rates to the people who live and work here. We want to stop massive government deficit spending. We will open up businesses to get our supply chains moving again, and this is such a critical issue for many people right now.
Is there one particular issue you would like to champion if elected to represent Kingston and the Islands?
I’m a pediatrician by training, so I think I would probably champion health care and freedom of conscience, which tend to go together. Our Ontario health care system is overpriced and underperforming… despite being near number one in terms of funding compared to other jurisdictions and countries providing universal health care. Our wait times are among the highest, and we have fewer physicians, key services, and medical technologies such as MRIs and CT scanners. In 1993, Ontario residents waited approximately 10 weeks to see a medical specialist, but in 2021 there was a median waiting time of almost 26 weeks… We, the Ontario Party, would look at exploring alternative care methods, including strategies employed in other countries… These countries maintain universal access to healthcare, funds at levels near that of Ontario, but they surpass our province in access to health care… One of the concerns with allowing some element or component of privatization of medicine is that it will lead to less wealthy Ontarians receiving substandard medical care. But this is being corrected with a larger positive impact of these proposals. It’s been observed in European countries that citizens who have access to private options have… decreased wait times and… increased access to procedures. We already have some component of privatization in our province with dentists, physiotherapists, and chiropractors, and so we would just look at expanding that role. We want to provide funding for greater hospital bed capacity, we want to hire thousands more health care workers, and we want to improve our health care system.
In your opinion, what is the biggest issue with the current makeup of the provincial government?
It seems that the MPPs… are voting on behalf of the party. They don’t have free votes where they can vote according to their conscience or vote according to what their constituents would like; they have to go along with the party line, and the MPPs represent what their leader wants. With the Ontario Party, we want to give power back to the people. We [would allow] all MPPs a free vote on all bills and ensure they’re able to vote according to their conscience, and represent our constituents’ voices, rather than the party line… We believe in democracy, and if somebody is voted in they should have the right to maintain their spot and not be kicked out for going against the party leader’s line… We also want to introduce MPP recall legislation that would [allow] voters to recall their MPP if they fail to represent them at Queen’s Park. We want to ensure the voices of Ontarians are heard and represented at Queen’s Park.
If you could share one message with voters in Kingston and the Islands, what would it be?
As part of the Ontario Party, I will stand against massive government deficit spending, and lockdowns that we’ve seen with the Ford government, which have led to inflation and an erosion of our standard of living… and the burgeoning of a mental health crisis that we are seeing. We are going to reverse this and target sources of inflation to decrease the cost of living and to make housing more affordable again… We will open Ontario for business and prevent any further lockdowns and obstructions to the supply chain in our economy. We want to make sure our energy costs are low to bring manufacturing back to Ontario, and we want to make sure red tape is at a minimum to get businesses started again. In terms of health care, we will decrease wait times and increase access, increase funding and medical diversity… We will overhaul the K-12 education system and implement proven best practices for success. Our policies are freedom-based policies, and we are for everybody… Our candidates are from many different backgrounds and look like the people they will represent. Please vote for me if you want to see positive change in Kingston and Ontario.
For more information on Shalea Beckwith and the Ontario Party, visit their website.