Sophie Kiwala sits down with The Journal

Liberal MPP Sophie Kiwala
Credit: 
By Sarina Grewal

Sophie Kiwala is the incumbent Kingston and the Islands provincial representative.

How do you plan for your campaign to engage with students?

One of the things that we have been doing already is we have been working very hard with the Queen’s Young Liberals. They have been speaking to their peers as well, and we’ve been knocking door to door in the student area having lots of conversations in and around the campus. A very direct approach to students is the best way to go about that.

Can you describe your main platform points?

We have just come out with our latest budget… We are seeing considerable investment in mental health, an area I’ve always been concerned about. We’re also seeing considerable investments in our hospital and healthcare sector, that’s also an issue that’s very important to me. The increase in minimum wage is also important. These are all ways in which we have been caring for Ontarians. I believe that we need to look after Ontarians...it’s incumbent upon the government to make sure people are doing okay in their daily lives, and though the economy is doing very well unemployment is at a record low. Unemployment in Ontario is below the national average for almost three years, but yet those increases in economic stability have not been shared by all members of our community… whether it’s through the our housing plan, our poverty reduction plan, or the increase in minimum wage, we do have to look after society and that’s something that is very important to this government.

How will you advocate for student issues?

As is evidenced by the amount of investment that I have been able to bring to Kingston, I continue to advocate on behalf of students to the government all the time. For example, when we launched the new OSAP program, the first thing that we did was the Premier came to Kingston and we made an announcement...to talk about the new OSAP program. It’s important that we keep the message out there about how accessible we are, and we will continue to support students in whatever way we can. We also have the OHIP+ program for individuals under the age of 25, that’s another area that has been very successful and is important to students...people are benefitting and will continue to benefit under this government.

How would you be improve upon your current term? 

I am very proud of what we’ve been able to bring to Kingston and the Islands. I advocated since I was elected in 2014 for the refurbishment of part of Kingston Health Sciences Centre, and was successful in bringing for the renovation of phase two of [the centre].

Outside of those more structural investments, we have invested in the people of this region. There is more demand for mental health services as the stigma is reduced. There will be more demand...we need to be ready to respond to that increase: making sure those programs and services are available for people is critical. That’s how we live our daily lives. We need to be able to move efficiently through our infrastructure investments, but we also need to be able to live our lives in a sustained and fulfilling way, and investing in those programs is part of how that’s possible.

What do you see as the most pressing issue (s) for students?

I would say one of the most pressing issues is mental health challenges as well as jobs in the future. You want to be sure that when you go through your education that you can get a job when you come out of it, and that’s certainly something that I think this government has been listening to and responding to...We really need to continue to make sure that employment is fair and that people are as well as they can be - mentally and physically to take on those jobs and the challenges of our future.

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I have worked in this community everyday, all day for Kingstonians, whether it was my work on the federal side or my work as a provincial representative for eleven years now… I know this community very well. I’m very open and willing to speak to anybody at any time about anything, whether they agree with the work that our government has done or not. I think it’s important to listen to everybody, and to understand the wide range of issues that confront our constituency and I will continue to do that. I think that that in itself is a very good reason to vote for me and the Liberal party in the next election. 

Corrections

April 6, 2018

The article has been updated to reflect that unemployment in Ontario is below the national average. 

The Journal regrets the error.

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