Re-elected MPP Laurie Scott has promised further investments in housing, health care, skilled trades and rural broadband after securing a sixth term in office representing the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock (HKLB) riding.
Amidst a backdrop of record-low voter turnout province-wide June 2, Scott recorded another sweeping victory in HKLB, garnering 52.8 per cent of the local vote (25,656 total votes). The riding was one of the first to be declared blue following the closing of polls at 9 p.m., with the result taking just 11 minutes to come through.
Scott said she was delighted to be given the opportunity to represent the community at Queen’s Park again. She will do so as a member of Doug Ford’s second Progressive Conservative majority government.
“I think it’s a pretty solid signal that [people] want us to continue moving forward in the direction that we have been going, particularly with all the investments,” Scott said. “It’s a big approval of how we handled the pandemic.”
Barbara Doyle, representing the NDP, finished a distant second, with 15.8 per cent (7,677 votes). Liberal Don McBey came third with 13.6 per cent (6,606 votes), while Dr. Kerstin Kelly, running for the Ontario Party, came fourth with 7.9 per cent (3,863 votes). Retired Haliburton school teacher Tom Regina led the Greens to a fifth-place finish, with 7.1 per cent (3,452). Ben Prentice of the New Blue Party took home 1.8 per cent of the vote (866 votes), with Libertarian Gene Balfour securing 1.1 per cent (516 votes).
In total, 48,636 ballots were cast in HKLB – down from 57,143 in 2018. While numbers are yet to be confirmed, that would suggest a voter turnout of less than 50 per cent for the first time in more than 25 years.
Despite that, Scott maintained that she was well received on the campaign trail.
“I heard at the doors that people liked what we’ve been doing… Over the past four years, we have made record investments in infrastructure, broadband, highways, transit, long-term care, hospitals, new schools. There’s been a lot of investments and those will continue on for many, many years,” Scott said.
In Haliburton County, Scott said the province would be working with senior administration at Haliburton Highlands Health Services to ensure the hospitals’ needs are met, while confirming that more money will be spent to bring even the region’s most remote areas online with high-speed broadband by 2025.
Continued investment in jobs training and post-secondary education for fields most in-need, such as nursing, PSWs and skilled trades, is another priority for the province, according to Scott.
“It’s pretty much a free ticket… We need to train more people for our health care system, and for the skilled trades so that we can keep building,” Scott said. “We’ve seen a lot of success locally in our PSW [training] programs, graduating students so that they can start working. It’s helped, but we need more. We need more people, and we need more training. That’s what we will continue to build upon for the next four years.”
Another of Scott’s big focuses over the next four years will be working with municipalities across the Highlands to address the region’s housing needs.
“We’ve already put money on the table and had lots of conversations with them… But Haliburton is a big challenge. We have the land, but we have to figure out services,” Scott said. “We know the need is there for all types of housing. We know we need more rentals… Those are the types of things we’re working with municipalities on, but there has to be a cooperation. We want to do this in unison. The world’s moving fast and we need to keep up with it.”