It has been just over three years since Orleans-born Mathieu Ravignat was elected into the House of Commons as a member of the New Democratic Party of Canada’s ‘Orange Wave’. The Low Down decided to check in with the Official Opposition Critic for the Treasury Board about the latest hot topics in the Hills, how he feels he stacks up against former MP Lawrence Cannon, and whether the orange crush was just that: a crush.
Low Down: The major crisis here is health care and that’s a provincial issue, but the province keeps ignoring the Outaouais. Is there anything you can do on a federal level to help the region get more funding?
Mathieu Ravignat: It’s true that it’s a provincial matter, but the reality is the Conservative government – by not increasing the federal transfers in health care (because costs of health care are getting higher) – basically cut $36 billion out of the system. So, we’re feeling those effects. The Outaouais is one of the worst served areas in Quebec, if not across the country in terms of the quality of health care, so you can’t tackle this problem if you cut $36 billion. The second thing is that there needs to be some thinking about reforming the health care system so we come back to a client service perspective where the patient matters. But to do that we need to hire more nurses and we need to train more doctors and you can’t do that investment in research, science, and investment in personnel . . . But I also agree you can’t just throw the money at the system and expect it to improve. That money has to come with certain conditions and there has to be certain expectations with regard to performance and patient service. Unfortunately, this government has taken the route of cuts in health care and I think why they want to do that is because they want to create a crisis in public health care. And why they want to create a crisis in public health care is because they want to move to a private system – partly private, partly public. And that will put into question the universality of the system and the fact that it should be affordable for every Canadian.
LD: What has Mathieu Ravignat done that can compare to former MP Lawrence Cannon who brought Hwy 5 and two community centres to the Pontiac?
MR: We’ve supported a number of local projects [like] renewing community centres [and] helping palliative care centres establish themselves. Also, the Quyon ferry project go-ahead. So, there’s been a number of projects where our involvement was very helpful.
LD: Do you mean the La Maison des Collines palliative care entre in Wakefield? From what I understand they didn’t get federal grants.
MR: No, not the one in Wakefield, no.
LD: All those things are outside of the Gatineau Hills. What about us?
MR: You know what, I’m hoping there will be projects that will come forward and I’ll be able to help in this area as well. Obviously, I’ve given my support to several of them. It’s unfortunate that in the financial situation that we’re in, not everybody can get their projects. But I certainly will fight very hard for any project that has community support in the MRC des Collines . . . and all the municipalities across the very large riding of the Pontiac. But of course it would be great if we were in the situation of forming a government. Certainly in that position of being a part of government you definitely have a lot more ability to help your constituents.