Campaigns from Ontario’s four major political parties will converge in North Bay this afternoon for a debate on issues affecting residents of northern communities.
The leaders are due to face off at 1 p.m. ET. You can watch it unfold live in this story, where CBC News will keep you up to date with all the highlights and the most interesting exchanges.
Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford has been in the North for several days, touting commitments he has made to restore passenger rail service in the North, rebuild Highway 101 through Timmins and continue road infrastructure construction work until ‘at the Ring of Fire.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath released her northern platform on Monday, including promising to reimburse medical travel costs faster, add more local health centers and hire 300 doctors “immediately” in the region. region.
The party also promises to build more affordable housing and provide new supports for drug addicts in the area.
“We’re going to be talking to northerners today about the things that matter most to them and I’m very excited about that,” Horwath said.
The NDP has traditionally had broad support in the North and held eight seats in the region when the legislature was dissolved, with the PC incumbents holding a few more and the Liberals retaining one.
Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca spent the morning releasing details of the North’s platform, which included promises to strengthen the region’s population by improving access to medical care, building new roads and taking more control of the immigration system to attract newcomers to the region.
The Liberal platform also includes promises to cover tuition for any medical or nursing student who works long-term in a rural or remote community, expedite applications for consumer service sites and treatment in northern Ontario and ensure high-speed Internet access for all, including First Nations. communities, by 2025.
Del Duca said he looked forward to discussing northern issues during Tuesday’s debate.
“I’m not focusing on the other three leaders on the stage today,” he said before the debate.
“My focus is the people of Ontario. In particular, given the nature of the debate today, the people of Northern Ontario who face a critical shortage of health care workers.
Meanwhile, Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner also today unveiled his campaign pledges for the North.
The pledges include a program to create green jobs in the region, expand access to healthcare and mental health services, and restore Northlander passenger rail service between Toronto and Cochrane.