Federal interim Liberal leader Bob Rae made a quick pit stop in Windsor Nov. 22 to grab a coffee while en route to wine country.
Alongside Kings Hants MP Scott Brison, Rae had the opportunity to meet the people who are most affected by government policies and hear what issues are on their minds.
Rae, who was elected the interim leader after the Liberals were walloped at the polls earlier this year, said the stop at the Tim Hortons on Wentworth Road was the best way to connect with the electorate.
“I'm a big believer in doing politics by walking around,” he said. “You get around and talk to people, meet people and listen to what their concerns are.”
Rural hardships — from health care accessibility to job loss — are realities that are on the minds of many. Rae said these issues must be addressed, but not just by each individual province.
“I think the same challenges for rural Nova Scotia are really the challenges for the whole country,” he said.
Rae said he sees encouraging innovation — like the transformation happening in Nova Scotia's wine industry — as what will propel Canada forward toward economic prosperity.
“The wine industry is a good example. There was no wine industry 10 to 15 years ago. There is one now,” he said.
From British Columbia to Ontario and the Maritimes, farmers are tapping into the power of the grape and capitalizing on a growing market for their products.
Following his stop in Windsor, Rae was scheduled to have lunch with winemakers from the Valley to discuss the issues and challenges that they face. The night before he was in Halifax to celebrate Lebanese Independence Day.
Satellite dialysis units required for rural sites
While in Windsor, the issue of hardships faced by sick rural residents requiring treatment outside of the community was raised.
Rae said when it comes to health care, the government must look for ways to make it more affordable and accessible for the average Canadian. For those suffering with long term illnesses, Rae said more needs to be done.
“We had a system in the old days that was based on acute care, based on people getting sick and then getting better, people having access to a doctor and getting better. We're now seeing a health care system that's in the throes of a much bigger change,” he said.
From diabetes to kidney disease, Rae said many illnesses are now manageable.
“The good news is we can treat kidney disease,” he continued. “We do have a means of keeping people going and getting people there. But, making sure (dialysis) units are available in smaller communities and are accessible across the country is critical. It really is one of the issues that we have to deal with.”
Currently, Hants County residents must travel to Berwick or Halifax — a 90-minute round trip — two to three times a week for dialysis treatment. There is a current fundraising push on to see a satellite dialysis unit set up in Windsor at the Hants Community Hospital. The provincial government has not committed to staffing such a unit, even if the dialysis machines are paid for by the community.
The federal MP noted that commuting for treatment isn't the ideal scenario for anyone coping with an illness.
He said increasing awareness of organ donation is one small way people can get involved and help make some positive changes.
“As Canadians, we need to work much harder on organ donation and making that more accessible. We still have a shortage of people willing to come forward and that's something we need to deal with,” he said.