Kingston city councillor acclaimed as provincial NDP candidate

City Councillor for the Kingscourt-Rideau District Mary Rita Holland will be the provincial NDP candidate for Kingston and the Thousand Islands at this year's election. 

Holland, who represented the party in 2011 and 2014, will re-assume the role from Kingston's current MPP Ian Arthur after he announced his choice to step away from provincial politics in December.

The Kingscourt-Rideau councillor now hopes her nearly two terms of experience in municipal politics will help her maintain the party's seat for the area. 

Holland said public health, affordable housing, investment into poverty reduction and strengthening mental health support are among the main focuses for the party.

She says that public health, beyond pandemic response, should be a key area of improvement for the province.

"When governments for example invest in things that make it easy for people to live a healthy life, that benefits everyone we see reduced costs in the healthcare system," Holland said.

"We see of course higher levels of human dignity and overall social cohesion which is something that has been lacking."

In reopening Ontario, Holland said it seems Conservatives have prioritized "certain aspects of public health" as opposed to investing in schools and making sure everyone has access to rapid tests.

"Some of their priorities throughout have not been what our priorities would have been," she said. 

Holland, who has served on several Kingston housing committees, also joined Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath on Thursday to unveil the party's "Home In Ontario Program".

The program expands upon the federal government's first time home buyers program, broadening the scope of eligible buyers in consideration of the rapidly rising housing prices in urban centres.

The NDP's program would offer a shared equity loan of 10% of a home's value to people who don't own property and have household income under $200,000.

The housing plan also looks to give more flexibility for owners to rent extra space in their homes, encouraging spaces like basement apartments and laneway houses.

The party says their plan would also address landlord loopholes like renovictions, and bring back real rent control especially as it pertains to seniors and other vulnerable tenants.

A provincial election is to be held June 2.