At 22, Elyse Robinson is the youngest candidate in the Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte riding. Deepak Bidwai of Local Journalism Initiative talked to her about her past environmental advocacy and her party’s platform.
Robinson started her career in politics as organizer of “one of Ottawa’s first major climate strikes.” It “taught me how to work with community leaders, especially youth leaders,” she said.
Young people are usually less involved in municipal and provincial politics. Robinson says educating young people can solve that problem.”When you have more youth stepping up and saying, ‘You know what, no, we’re going to, we’re going to increase the amount of voices that the youth have in these spaces.’”
Robinson said no student should have to worry about dropping out of school, affording to live or having nutritious breakfast, so the Green Party wants “to stop all interest on all student loans” and “the grants that Doug Ford had changed to loans back into grants.”
Climate change is a very important issue for young people. “I do want to really emphasize that climate is not a partisan issue, addressing the climate emergency is going to take all of us,” she said. To address climate change, by 2025 her party wants “to stop new fossil fuel infrastructure and gas hookups.” She also wants to partner with “Indigenous communities to establish Indigenous protected and conserved areas where the Indigenous governments themselves have the primary role in protecting and conserving ecosystems through their laws and governance systems and knowledge systems.”
Robinson said according to the Science Table Report from January 2012, “Ontario’s for profit nursing homes had 78% More COVID-19 deaths than nonprofits.” Her party wants to increase “funding to homecare by 20 per cent” to $1.6 billion.” She also stressed the need to stop insitutionazing senior care and integrate seniors back into the community.
For Robinson the longer wait times for surgeries is a personal issue. She “was on a waitlist for a surgery for around about three and a half years” before it was done “a year ago.” If elected she will work to “make it a priority.”
Being a fourth generation settler in Canada, Robinson said she “had either direct or indirect effects on the displacement of indigenous populations” and wants to “address our colonial past and present.” Her party wants “to fund 22,000, indigenous owned and operated permanent homes under an urban and rural indigenous housing strategy” and “to increase the number of indigenous professionals working in health care through things like training and mentorship opportunities.”
Robinson’s three main challengers MPP Doug Downey of PC, Mayor Jeff Lehman of Liberals and Beverley Patchell of NDP are more than twice her age. “I offer a new and fresh perspective, to policy, I’m looking at the world from a different lens,” she said.