A few weeks ago, I was the guest of the 20th Aurora Guides. They were an impressive group of girls who were well prepared to ask their MPP some tough questions about what he does and why he does it. I think I did ok, because in the end I was rewarded with two boxes of Girl Guide Cookies. It doesn’t get any better !
That meeting was the inspiration for this column. I realized that probably very few people really know what their MPP does. They may read the occasional newspaper article or see the CP24 clips and for the political junkies, there is the Parliamentary Channel featuring Question Period and Committee Hearings. But….
What goes on behind the scenes at Queen’s Park and in the Constituency Office ?
Queen’s Park: When the legislature is in session, I’m at Queen’s Park from Monday through Thursday. While the daily Question Period and weekly Caucus and Committee meetings are fixed in my schedule, the numerous other responsibilities including those related to my role as our Party’s lead on the Ornge file and as the Infrastructure Critic, are less predictable and often involve last minute requests to respond to media and stakeholder inquiries.
‘Never a dull moment’ is how I describe it when asked how things are at Queen’s Park. How does one manage to stay on top of multiple files and issues ? You learn to ‘compartmentalize’ and you need a nimble, competent and organized support staff to provide the mounds of research necessary to manage the complex number of emerging issues.
I credit my Executive Assistant, Stephen Dasko and Legislative Assistant, Ryan Nutter with helping me to keep pace with the intense demands and schedule of the legislature.
The Constituency Office …… Where we make a difference in people’s lives
While Queen’s Park is where the high profile activities of Question Period and legislative debate take place, the constituency office is where people turn – often as a last resort – to get help with practical issues in their daily lives.
While my Fridays are reserved for meetings with constituents, and while I am often credited with resolving constituent issues, most of the advocacy and intervention work is done by my three dedicated constituency staff.
I want to recognize and pay tribute to Suzanne Bolton, Jacqueline Flowers and Neave Greig for their tireless dedication to making a difference in the lives of so many in our community.
More than 5,000 requests for help were responded to by our office over the past twelve months and while we may not have been able to resolve every case, here are examples of some of those cases:
A lung transplant candidate appealed for help following the closure of the Respiratory Rehab Program at Southlake. Being forced to travel to Toronto General for the critical rehab services would surely result in his condition deteriorating and he may not survive the stress.
We appealed to Gary Ryan, Southlake’s Chief Operating Officer and within days we received confirmation that the Respiratory Rehab Program would be continued for this and four other York Region lung transplant patients.
A constituent with severe asthmatic conditions had been advised by Mobility Plus that she would no longer qualify for the transportation services she had been receiving for the past 13 years. Numerous appeals had been denied and it was physically impossible for her to even get to her doctor’s appointments.
We requested an updated letter from the Respirologist, and appealed to Rick Leary the General Manager of York Region Transit to reconsider their decision. The essential transit service was re-instated.
A female high school student, who had been subject to bullying, found herself in a desperate situation. She felt she was not getting the support that she needed from her school and her mother was concerned that the lines of communication with the school had been cut off. Things had deteriorated to the point where the police were involved.
I contacted the school board supervisor and proposed that I facilitate a meeting with him, the principal, the student and the parent. That meeting took place and a go-forward plan was agreed to that gave the student and her mother renewed hope.
A rogue developer was doing work on a parcel of land on the Oak Ridges Moraine in Aurora without the proper permits. There was concern that illegal fill was being brought on to the land and that area wells were under threat of contamination. Town of Aurora staff had attempted to stop the activity, but the landowner ignored the stop work orders of the Town and Region. The Ministry of Environment had refused to get involved.
I personally spoke with the Minister of Environment and asked him to intervene. He agreed, and within 24 hours, the ministry advised the Town of Aurora that they would undertake the necessary soil testing given the threat of contamination.
These are only a few examples of the nature of the issues and the scope of our involvement in the community. I and my staff consider it a privilege to be entrusted with the responsibility to serve. Thank you for your trust and confidence.
See Jan 2014 article by Mark Subryan of the Aurora Banner
Progressive Conservative Newmarket-Aurora MPP Frank Klees has been a highly visible figure in provincial politics during the past several years…read more