Rural needs a priority for Simcoe North's soon-to-be-MPP

Published on June 14, 2018

Jill Dunlop’s rural roots were top of mind as she described farmers and small-business owners, among others, as “the backbone of our province” while celebrating her election night win.

Days later, with her Tory-blue lawn signs collected and the work at Queen’s Park soon to begin, Simcoe North’s next MPP again reflected on those she will represent in the riding once held by her father.

“What I hear from people in our area is that they feel that Toronto is always the one that is supported the most, and they feel that we are just pushed aside,” she said. “We are such a huge percentage of Ontario as well that needs to be represented.”

Dunlop will get her feet wet next Monday with MPP training, followed on Tuesday by the first Progressive Conservative caucus meeting of premier-designate Doug Ford’s incoming majority government.

“I know my government is going to come on strong and jump in and be ready to make those changes and commitments to the people of Ontario,” she added.

For her part, Dunlop is vowing to advocate for, and eliminate the stigma around, the skilled trades, just as longtime MPP Garfield Dunlop did during his time in office.

“They keep Ontario moving and growing and they helped build this province,” she said. “They are a necessary and invaluable part of our daily lives.”

In the year that ensued after securing the local PC nomination, Dunlop met with a variety of tradespeople, among them electricians, plumbers, welders, and tool-and-die makers. From them she heard of the challenges they encounter during schooling and apprenticeships.

“We need to recognize the importance of manufacturing and skilled labour to a sustainable economy and enable the growth of skilled labour,” she said.  

Dunlop is vowing to address other concerns that emerged while speaking with residents on the campaign trail, including the school closures that impact rural communities in the riding and the need for more doctors.

“I had students tell me about living on their own for the first time, and how the lack of stable hours due to minimum wage increases and high hydro rates were affecting their ability to save for their futures,” she added.

Garfield Dunlop, who resigned his seat in Simcoe North to allow former Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown to represent the riding, was nearing tears after his daughter’s win.

“I couldn’t tell you how proud we are,” he said. “We all worked so, so hard.”

While he intends to “be there for her every moment of my life … to help her out in any way I can,” he is confident she has what it takes to make her mark.

Dunlop is hoping to relocate Simcoe North’s constituency office from the plaza on Memorial Avenue to downtown Orillia, “to make it more accessible for people.”

She is also exploring a potential move of the Midland constituency office to a more central location in that town.