Midland 2022 election question (updated)

Accessibility for success

The question

Given the importance to economic development to Midland, and the large number of people with disabilities (whether physical or mental health) and seniors (many who also have age-related health challenges) who would rather be working than living in poverty, what efforts, tools, and techniques would you support at the town and county levels in order to support us1 in achieving meaningful employment that uses our skills and talents2 so that we may fully participate in the economic and social life of the town? As a bonus question: to the extent you have provincial and/or federal contacts and involvement what are the effort and means to support our participation would you advocate for at those levels?

The answers

A copy and paste of the candidate’s answer (with formatting adjustments to fit the page layout and font), for which permission was given to post here by the candidate, unless otherwise noted.

Listed in the order a response was received.

Ute Schmid-Jones (Sep 22, 2022)

Responded but did not clearly give permission to post here.

Jamie-Lee Ball (Sep 25, 2022)

Thanks for your question.

Opening more supports for people affected by mental health and disabilities is something I feel passionate about. I have three children with autism, one who has also dealt with mental health. I know firsthand that the supports on any level from municipal to federal are lacking.

I went back to school to study behavioral sciences so I could be better able to help people recognize strategies that aid them to lead fulfilling lives. I did a placement at Waypoint in their dual diagnosis program and was able to help develop behavior plans that allowed for strategies, and focused on the strengths of each individual.

I think focusing on the strengths of each individual within our community allows for a supportive environment that nurtures each person to their best potential. I would love to see mentorship programming, better supports for mental health, and more inclusive spaces that are accessible to all.

I do not have contacts at other levels yet as this is my first jump into politics. I do sit on the family advisory board for Kinark autism and mental health which takes the opinions of families into consideration to develop the best organization to meet the needs of those using it. I am used to being an advocate for my children and have every hope that if elected, I will be able to find like-minded people at different levels of government to support our community.

Please feel free to post this on your website and reach out at any time if you have any other questions, concerns, or just want to talk.

I look forward to meeting you in the future and wish you the best of luck returning to the workforce.

Matthew Vaters (Sep 26, 2022)

Note: This is a combination of two emails

I want to thank you for reaching out to me. If you have seen my campaign video, you will also notice where I work- CLH Developmental Support Services. I have a history of advocating for people who have disabilities. The same applies to this situation. We need to find meaningful work for those who have these restrictions in their life. I would use my contacts that I know at the provincial level to help me assess this situation and work on this a lot closely. I appreciate you reaching out to me and if you need more from me, don’t hesitate to ask. That is why I am here.

Link to Matthew Vaters election video

See attached and feel free to share

Frank Vatalaro (Sep 26, 2022)

As an individual municipal counselor my power in this very important issue is limited. I do believe we should explore supported and subsidized work programs, funding, and assistance to help employers create accessible workplaces and options to help those on financial assistance programs bridge to gainful employment.

All of this would require extensive communication and collaboration with all levels of government

AND please feel free to post this as a direct quote.

Bob Jeffery (Sep 27, 2022)

Responded but did not clearly give permission to post here.

Glen Canning (Sep 29, 2022) (updated)

Ensuring opportunities and employment is equally open to all members of our society is important to me. I believe in the concept of actual equality, not just lip service. However, beyond drilling through Town policies and practices to ensure that people with disabilities are not further impaired by intrinsic or hidden discrimination I am (frankly) uncertain what we can do at the Town level.

I confess that I am not very knowledgeable in this area. I took a quick scan through your website and realized that there is simply too much for me to consume and understand in a short visit. I am however open to discuss any possible changes to policy and employment practices that may relieve the burdens placed upon those who have disabilities.

Catherine MacDonald (Sep 29, 2022)

To directly answer your complex question, I would

  • Encourage the town and county levels of government to support achieving meaningful employment in order to fully participate in the economic and social life of the town
  • Hope to develop provincial and federal contacts with the intention of seeking their involvement and discover any programs that would be available.
  • The efforts would be genuine, the tools and techniques would have to be developed with your assistance and our community social agencies.

Thank you for taking interest in the municipal election. I do not have a problem with you posting this response in a blog post.

Tom Gardzinski (Sep 29, 2022) (updated)

Responded but did not clearly give permission to post here.

Bill Gordon (Oct 14, 2022) (updated)

Responded but requests his answer not be posted here.

Jonathan Main (Oct 15, 2022) (updated)

Midland can work on livability, accessibility, and inclusion in a variety of ways. Midland can look at communities who prioritize age-friendly policies and ‘all ages and abilities’ perspective to municipal services. Midland is working on multi-modal transportation so that people can walk, cycle, or use transit to move about town. Midland businesses are inclusive employers and many community members of different skills and abilities are employed in Midland and surrounding areas. CLH Developmental Services is an example of an organization who strives with inclusive community services. Askennonia Seniors Centre is another organization providing excellent senior recreation services. Midland’s accessibility committee is a key municipal group that provides policy guidance on accessibility issues. The YMCA employment centre would be a good partner for working to help connect employees with employers across the different commercial and industrial sectors. Midland should also follow Penetanguishene’s lead and join the Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities, which would help provide policy guidance.

In general, there are key policies that would help address poverty - investment in affordable housing, living wage adoption (increasing the minimum wage), and increase of services for seniors to age-in-place. Midland needs more affordable housing units and the Town can be involved with municipal lands for housing partnerships and also updating zoning. Helping to permit more 2nd units would be good for all the different housing needs of families. Increasing the Ontario minimum wage, and advocating for more local businesses to pay living wages, that would help to address poverty in Midland. Many Midland residents need access to health and medical services, and the more that we can bring services to people in their homes the longer they can live at home. I am looking forward to learning from my Simcoe county colleagues and working together with MPP Jill Dunlop and MP Adam Chambers on addressing issues facing Midland.

Cody Oschefski (Oct 18, 2022) (updated)

Responded but did not clearly give permission to post here.

Candidates who have not responded (in alphabetical order)

  • Roberta Bald
  • Jack Contin
  • Jim Downer
  • Sheldon East
  • Ben Gorski
  • Eric “Howie” Major
  • Carole McGinn
  • Bill Meridis
  • Beth Prost
  • Stewart Strathearn

NB: Rebecca Sernasie indicated she has decided not to pursue a town councillor position.


  1. As you might have guessed I do have a disability3 which is now quite well treated and am looking to return to my career, but would have liked to work long before this (i.e. even when doing not nearly as well). ↩︎

  2. As my professional and technical website (https://www.wildtechgarden.ca) demonstrates disability often means having specific challenges, not lack of intelligence, work ethic, and/or skill and abilities. ↩︎

  3. Specifically schizophrenia and depression, of which these posts might be interesting: PRinces and Madmen and Schizophrenia Talk↩︎