Erika Lougheed wants to end ‘silent suffering’ from Queen’s Park

·3 min read

Erika Lougheed, the provincial NDP candidate for Nipissing riding, sees a lot of “silent suffering” in the area, and throughout Ontario, as people struggle to keep up with seemingly ever-increasing costs. She explained that the NDP’s platform will help alleviate that, by focusing in part on housing, dental care, and support for mental health and addictions.

See: NDP unveils its northern platform. Overdose crisis will be declared a public health emergency

As she knocks on doors seeking support, Lougheed hears many voices expressing similar concerns. “Affordability is definitely one of them” she said, as people struggle through record high inflation, sky-high gas prices, expensive groceries, all in the wake of an economically devasting (for most) global pandemic.

“Housing is a really big issue,” Lougheed noted, “we’ve let this balloon to a complete crisis, where there are bidding wars for rentals.” The average price of housing is rising fast in the region, and “pushing people out,” and “causing an incredible amount of strain” on renters and want-to-be homeowners.

The housing issue is leading to increased homelessness, and tent cities are springing up throughout the province. “People working full-time jobs,” are having troubles, Lougheed said, and those making less are even more vulnerable. “It would shock people to know the amount of silent suffering happening in Nipissing.”

Including dental and mental health care under OHIP would help, she said, as would investing more to support mental health and addictions. The current system is failing many, and Lougheed has had enough of “band aid approaches” that don’t lead to real systemic change.

“I’m willing to roll up my sleeves and do the hard work here to address root causes,” she said, referring to the big-ticket issues like alleviating poverty and providing funds for mental health and addictions support.

No stranger to politics, Lougheed currently sits on the East Ferris municipal council, a position she’s held since 2018. She lives in Corbeil with her two kids and husband, Sean Lougheed, a professor at Canadore College.

She decided to run in 2018 to help her community and address some of the social issues that had been becoming more prevalent at that time, and since. “I spent my entire adult life wanting people in positions of power to do something about what was happening, and not really seeing that represented. I didn’t see my values represented at the time.”

Serving on council allowed her to bring those values forward, as municipal politics is “the closest level of government to the people,” as those municipal issues hit directly home. Although her campaign was not always easy— “I had no signs, I had no money”—she took the grassroots approach. “I just decided I would knock on everybody’s door,” to introduce herself and have a chat.

She’s still knocking on doors to talk about issues and hear how people are doing— “that’s the kind of person I am,”—although now she’s asking neighbours to send her to Queen’s Park.

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca

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