PERTH-WELLINGTON – Jo-Dee Burbach has a lot on her CV. From small business owner to editor for a digital magazine, from Stratford City councillor to, as of November of last year, NDP candidate for Perth-Wellington.
She made the move in order to help people on a larger scale.
“I really wanted to make a difference in the lives of everyday people,” Burbach said.
“I feel like I can make a bigger difference at the provincial level that affects everyday life.
“For instance, I have kids who are in the public school system. I have aging parents thinking about long term care, and there are a lot of issues that affect people’s everyday lives that I feel like I could really make a difference for Perth-Wellington.”
She added, “Don’t get me wrong, I like municipal level politics as well. But there are frustrations that you run up against.
“More than one time I’ve run up against a barrier. [Those were] the decisions or the policies that were coming from the province. That really motivated me to want to switch to provincial politics—so I could make a difference at that level.”
Burbach is confident in her ability to adapt at the higher level.
“I certainly think there will be similarities and there will be differences,” she said.
“But getting up and talking to people and understanding what their challenges are and bringing those forward—in whatever form—to the table … that’s what I see as being a similarity.
“It’s a little bit different, because you’re going to a larger centre and, as a fairly rural riding, we need to have a very strong voice at Queen’s Park. I can provide that.”
Burbach said that, although there are a lot of pertinent issues, there is one clear priority in this next election: housing.
“Definitely affordable housing. That seems to be an issue for a lot of people right now, with a combination of skyrocketing prices, and wages that are stagnant,” she said.
“That makes for a very challenging combination for working families to just make ends meet. Affordable housing is really one of the big issues and the NDP does have quite a robust plan. One of the things that I know a lot of young people are facing as a challenge is getting into the market at all.
“One of our programs is a first time buyers’ interest-free loan program, where we could get those young buyers into the market right now.”
She continued, “It’s something that has to be tackled at all three levels of government. The current government seems to want to tackle it by sprawling into farmland and building a lot of single-family homes and highways. The NDP’s feeling is that that’s not the answer.
“The answer is to intensify more in urban centres and look for more creative solutions so that people can find the type of housing that they need.
“Not everybody can afford a suburban mansion. We need to have a variety of different types of housing, and we want to protect our green spaces as well.”
The current government, she says, isn’t focused on the right issues.
Furthermore, she says that the idea that Progressive Conservatives help small businesses doesn’t mesh with what she has seen.
“Especially after the pandemic, I saw the PCs supporting big businesses and big box stores that didn’t apparently need it as much,” she said.
“I saw a lot of mid- and small- sized businesses just suffering and were unable to access funds, so I think the perception that the PCs are for small businesses is a little bit misplaced. From my perspective, big companies and corporations are getting a lot of breaks and the small, midsize businesses aren’t getting the support that they need.
“The NDP is offering support for small businesses – especially with COVID recovery.
“That is one of our focuses, to make sure that the basic, hard-working Ontarians, people that are facing daily challenges, are getting the help they need.
Connor Luczka is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with Midwestern Newspapers