By Emily Stonehouse
“We’re here today to talk about an incredible community effort underway to save the Minden Emergency Room,” shared Marit Styles, the leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP) and the leader of the Opposition when she came to Minden on May 25 to speak with concerned citizens.
The press conference was smaller scale, with media partners contacted the day-of to cover the engagement, which was done on the Village Green in downtown Minden. Folks with yellow shirts showed up to support the cause, and share their stories.
Stiles took the time to shake hands with each person who had come out, listening to their experiences, and promising to advocate on their behalf.
“The Minden community has come together with one voice to say ‘this essential ER needs to stay’” Stiles told camera crews and local media agencies, “it is a vital service for locals and visitors alike, [and] it is an essential local resource for the community.”
Stiles did not mince words when it came to addressing the root of the problem, stating that “it is absolutely – let’s be clear – the responsibility of Doug Ford and his Minister of Health Sylvia Jones. It is their responsibility to ensure this stays open.”
With the exception of one election in 1990 in which the NDP stepped into the role of MPP for what was then Haliburton-Victoria, the County of Haliburton has been fairly consistent with their Conservative voting, with Laurie Scott currently in her fifth term as MPP.
Stiles believes that Ford and Jones have the tools available to cancel the closure immediately.
She outlined how it is their responsibility to keep the facility open. “They can listen to the voices of the community, advocates, healthcare professionals, and so many others who have been unequivocal that this is worth saving,” she said, “that the right thing to do, is worth doing.”
Hailing from St. John’s Newfoundland, Stiles moved to Ontario to complete her post-secondary education. She was a trustee for the Toronto District School Board, and the president of the federal NDP until 2018.
When Andrea Horwath stepped down as the party leader in 2022, while the NDP were still in the role of official Opposition, Stiles put forward her name. She ran on principles including green infrastructure, Indigenous rights, and supporting public education and healthcare.
She was named the leader of the official Opposition in Ontario on February 4, 2023.
“I am incredibly inspired by the people of Minden,” Stiles said during her visit, “but they shouldn’t have to fight for basic medical services in their community like this.”
When Stiles was posed the question of what she can do to help, she said she will stop at nothing. “Every single day, we get stronger, you keep building and you keep pushing back and you do not give up,” she told the crowd. “Even if they do decide to close on June 1, that battle does not end on June 1, we keep building, we keep spreading the message.”