KAREN KEJICK (Liberal)

1. Why are you running to be MPP for Kenora-Rainy River?
I’m running because this election is a very important one and there’s a lot at stake for Kenora-Rainy River.
I made the decision to step up because we need a strong and true voice for the north. We need a representative who is open, honest, and accountable–one who isn’t afraid to face criticism and difficult questions.
That’s the kind of leader I aspire to be. And as your representative at Queen’s Park’s, I’ll fight for better health care, safer roads, more economic and educational opportunities, and other improvements to the things that matter to us in the north.
2. What are your qualifications/experience for the job?
I am an experienced community leader, a proud member of the Treaty 3 Nation, and a fierce advocate who’ll stand up for what’s right for Northwestern Ontario.
I have supported good jobs and small business as a Lake of the Woods Business Incentive Corp. board member, and advocated for the most vulnerable with Kenora’s Sunset Area Victim Crisis Assistance and Referral Service.
I’ve taken the lead on economic development, education, and fisheries files as a band councillor in Iskatewizaagegan (Shoal Lake 39) First Nation. And I have spearheaded anti-violence initiatives and built up safe and just communities with Treaty 3 Police.
Overall, I have proven I will be a representative who will stand up for Northwestern Ontario, be accountable to my constituents, and deliver real, positive results.
3. What is the main message you hope to convey to voters during the campaign?
My grandfather and role model, David Kejick, fought in World War I with Northwest Ontario’s 52nd Battalion, receiving the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his courage.
What I want to convey to voters is what I learned from my grandfather’s example: We’re strongest when we work together and fight for the things that matter to us in the north. And that’s exactly what I will do as your MPP.
I’ll be working directly with municipalities, businesses, hospitals, and First Nations to stand up for them at Queen’s Park. And to take action to improve our health care, education, infrastructure, and more–the things that matter to all of us.
4. What opportunities do you see for the forest industry and future use of the fibre in our riding?
The forestry industry is a key part of our economy here in Northwestern Ontario and I’m excited to advocate to build up the sector further.
One opportunity I see is to build stronger, more meaningful partnerships with First Nations. When we work together in a respectful way, we all benefit–whether it’s in terms of economic benefits, improved roads, or the skills and training for our people.
In my own experience, I’ve seen that capacity issues within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry can slow down forestry projects. While the NDP and PCs both made cuts to the MNRF, the Ontario Liberals know forestry is an essential part of the economy and have invested more than $1.3 billion in the forestry sector since 2005.
5. What is your priority when it comes to improving health care for residents of our riding?
My three priorities on health care are moving forward with the All Nations Hospital, increasing investments in mental health, and ensuring we can access care across the border in Manitoba.
We need to transform our health-care system in Northwestern Ontario for the better. And the All Nations Hospital could play a key role in recruiting new doctors and nurses to the region, having more beds available for people in need, and working better with First Nations.
Too many in our community are struggling with their mental health without adequate support. As your MPP, I’ll push to bring home the landmark $2-billion investment in mental health from this year’s budget to our communities to ensure people get the care they need because there should be no wrong door for accessing mental health care.
And finally, as an MPP, I’ll push for a funding transfer agreement between Ontario and Manitoba so that people in Kenora-Rainy River can get the care they need in Winnipeg, if necessary, rather than having to go as far away as Toronto or Ottawa.
6. What is your plan to build and sustain the agricultural industry in our riding?
Land is getting more expensive in southern Ontario and that means more opportunities and interest in expanding farming up here in the north.
I’ll stand up for programs like Ontario’s Community Infrastructure Fund, which supports critical infrastructure projects and through which more than $9 million has gone to Kenora-Rainy River in the past four years alone.
And I will work collaboratively with organizations like the Rainy River Federation of Agriculture to identify key priorities and funding needs to build up the agriculture industry.
7. What is your strategy to ensure the local tourism industry continues to be a major economic engine?
I was born and raised here in Kenora-Rainy River and I know our beautiful lakes, rivers, and environment are at the heart of our tourism industry.
We need to invest in and protect our environment here. I’d like to see increased funding for eco-tourism, collaboration with colleges and universities to get our youth trained and licensed with hunting, fishing, and trapping certifications, and real partnerships with First Nations to protect and appreciate the land we share.
And we need to support our small businesses and municipalities through measures like the small business tax cut and hiring incentives the Liberals introduced this fall, as well as the 50 percent increase to the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund in the Ontario Liberal Northern platform.
8. How would you help First Nations communities play a bigger role in economic development locally?
At Queen’s Park, I would push for increased funding to programs and services that are supporting meaningful economic participation and partnerships for First Nations.
That means expanding programs like Ontario’s $95-million Indigenous Economic Development Fund and the $140-million New Relationship Fund, which are supporting job training, entrepreneurship, and business development for First Nations all across Ontario.
That means carrying on with the work of Ontario’s $650-million Aboriginal Loan Guarantee, which supports meaningful indigenous participation in Ontario’s thriving “green” energy sector and which the Conservatives have made clear they would cut.
Really, it’s about building meaningful partnerships that are built upon trust and respect, not just jumping on a bulldozer as Doug Ford says he would.
I think the clearest example of that we’ve seen is the landmark resource revenue-sharing agreement Ontario signed with Treaty 3. That’s what reconciliation in action looks like.

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