Home » Interview, Politics

Q&A with Minister Margarett Best

23 August 2011 No Comments

By Samuel Getachew

It has been four years since Margarett Best was chosen by the residents of Scarborough-Guildwood as their member of Provincial Parliament.

To visit her riding office is to be impressed with the many idealistic young people, mostly visible minorities, who are trying to contribute to the betterment of their community. With an expected leadership opening with the Ontario Liberals in mere years, she remains a visible candidate to replace her leader. Sway caught up with the super busy woman of many titles recently.

SG: Ms Best – You have been an MPP for the last four years. Looking back, what were some of your achievements?

Best: The service which I have provided to my constituents of Scarborough-Guildwood and the respectful relationships I have fostered with them. Equally important is my role in bringing to fruition the following important initiatives in Scarborough-Guildwood. Some of our achievements are the expansion and renovation in the East Scarborough Storefront facilities to serve youth: the entire facility was designed with input from youth ambassadors from Kingston-Galloway and Orton Park and the rehabilitation and expansion of The Boys and Girls Club of East Scarborough among many notable achievments.

Most would agree Ontario is one of the more diverse provinces compared to others. Why do you think we have less diversity at Queens Park?

The Ontario Liberal Party is very diverse: from Ministers Office staff, our Constituency Offices, Interns and MPPs, we represent the spectrum of Ontario’s cultural communities: from across the African diaspora and beyond. This includes women and the LGBT community and individuals with varying abilities, we represent all of our constituents certainly.

There is more to do; thus it is important for us to continue our work as Liberals, to move this agenda forward. I am pleased with the range of Ontario Liberal candidates who are on board for our upcoming October 6th election date and as an African-Canadian, I certainly take pleasure in welcoming Mr. Michael Coteau, the Liberal Candidate in Don Valley East. There are also 40 women candidates on the ballot for the Liberals for the upcoming election.

There are many reasons that makes one join a political party. What is / are your reason(s)?

I identify strongly with the values of the Liberal Party of Ontario concerning families, education, jobs, maintaining a sustainable, modern and efficient health care system, access to services needed to achieve a better quality of life and respect for cultural diversity and Pierre Elliott Trudeau was one of my heroes.

What has surprised you most about politics?

Politics is in my DNA and I absolutely love the work that I do as a politician.

It has been seven years since the Liberals formed government in Ontario under the Hon Dalton McGuinty. Why does he deserve yet another chance to form the next Ontario government?

Dalton McGuinty and the Ontario Liberal party have worked diligently for Ontario since our first mandate in 2003, making tough decisions in tough times. We have made tremendous progress but certainly recognize that there is more to do.

Here are some of the results which show how Ontario as Canada’s most populous province is leading on many fronts: Ontario has the best-educated workforce in the world – 64 per cent of adults have completed postsecondary education, putting us ahead of all 34 OECD countries; The number of students in Grades 3 and 6 meeting the provincial standard is up 14 percentage points and graduation rates have risen from 68 to 79 per cent.  We have made room for 200,000 students in our colleges, universities and apprenticeship programs.  The recession took 257,000 jobs from us, however, we have regained 278,000.

Since 2003, we have invested $62 billion in infrastructure – more than the last two governments combined.

As a Minister, you have had many public achievements. What one achievement are you most proud of and why?

Investments in Amateur Sports and having “Sport” added to the name of the Ministry, which took effect in August 2010. The Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport’s Smoke Free Ontario Strategy and Smoke Free Ontario Act is one of the most comprehensive anti-smoking initiatives in North America and since the act was enacted, Ontario has seen the following results: the reduction of reduction of tobacco consumption by 32 per cent in 4 years; 4.6 billion fewer cigarettes smoked. the protection of children from smoking in vehicles, the banning of the display of tobacco products in stores and have a 95 per cent compliance rate, the restriction of the sale of cigarillos to packs of 20 and banned flavoured cigarillos, which target children and the building on the strategy with $5 million investment to prevent youth from smoking as we tackle contraband.

You have one of the most diverse ridings in Ontario. What are some of the leading issues?

Healthcare, youth and seniors issues, programs and services for immigrants and racialized communities are some of the major issues in Scarborough-Guildwood. The gains I mentioned previously with respect to programming in the riding with the East Scarborough Storefront, The Boys and Girls Club of East Scarborough, Scarborough Women’s Centre and South Asian Family Support Services, Momiji Health Care Society and the Scarborough Village Community Centre are some of the resources available to address those issues.

We also have the issue of after-school initiative which is up and running at eight sites and to the benefit of 479 children across the riding, full day kindergarten in 21 schools as of September 2012 which is a respite to parents of 1,762 students benefitting from the program.

When it comes to seniors and healthcare, our government has made significant investments in the Scarborough Village Community Center. As of March 2011, at Rouge Valley Health System (RVHS), Centenary Site, 85 percent of emergency department (ED) patients were treated within the provincial targets of four hours for patients with minor/uncomplicated conditions and eight hours for patients with complex or serious conditions.

Since the province started measuring wait times in 2008, the RVHS Centenary Site has been able to reduce its ED wait times by 5.5 hours (40 percent), thanks in part to our government’s effort to reduce ED wait times.

Any parting words?

I am looking forward to continuing to serve my constituents for four more years under the leadership of the Premier, the Honourable Dalton McGuinty

Related Articles:

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading ... Loading ...

Leave your response!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.