Natalia Kusendova defended mental health services and French language rights, but not the downtown SLR loop
Natalia Kusendova has worn many hats over the past four years, that of a Mississauga Center representative, that of a registered nurse and that of someone who is fluent in French and who defends the rights of speakers of the language.
The PC incumbent has served her term with issues she knows well, such as mental health care, lack of hospital capacity, growing substance abuse issues and representation for the many diverse constituents she speaks for. In four years, Kusendova has risen to the House 412 times, mentioning her constituency 48 times. She spoke French 120 times and was the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Francophone Affairs.
She was a member of the Standing Committee on Social Policy (which she later chaired), the Standing Committee on Justice Policy, and served as Vice Chair of the Standing Committee on General Government after serving as a member there.
As the voice of Mississauga representatives, Kusendova has demonstrated a deep understanding of the issues plaguing her community. She stood up for the first time at Queen’s Park on July 18, 2018 to introduce herself.
Kusendova speaks English, French, Polish, Czech and Slovak and immigrated to Canada when she was young. Her constituency is dominated by residents of South Asian, Chinese and Arab descent, and throughout her four years she has championed diversity and the benefits of pluralism.
That summer, speaking of the fatal Danforth shooting in Toronto, she asked the attorney general what the government was doing to end violent crime.
On August 7, 2018, she stood up in support of Bill 4, the Cap and Trade Cancellation Act.
“During my campaign, I spoke with thousands of residents of Mississauga Center and the most common concern I heard from people is that life was harder under the Liberals; that prices had risen considerably, such as gasoline and electricity; that people had to choose between heating and eating; that thousands of manufacturing jobs had left Ontario,” Kusendova said inside Queen’s Park.
The issue of affordability is one that Kusendova repeatedly raised, but was not the main focus.
In late August 2018, she again addressed the House in French, this time asking how the government intends to protect children and Ontarians from legalized cannabis. She was particularly concerned with preventing legal users of marijuana from driving under the influence of drugs.
During her four years, Kusendova used French in much of her comments and questions in the House. She was appointed Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Francophone Affairs in November 2020.
In November 2018, Kusendova brought up the police, a common topic for her. She said residents of Mississauga Center feared officers were being investigated after administering naloxone to a person who later died. Kusendova wanted information about the Police Services Act and how it deals with such situations.
As a strong advocate for people with addictions and mental health issues, she then successfully introduced a bill that helps police respond to calls involving a drug overdose.
On November 28, 2018, Kusendova stood up to close the gap between French language funding in Ontario compared to New Brunswick and Manitoba. According to her, the province provides only $2.78 per person for services in French, but New Brunswick and Manitoba allocate respectively $7.31 and $35.71 per person.
“We ask the federal government to treat Franco-Ontarians on an equal footing,” said Kusendova.
A month later, when discussions around Bill 108, the More Homes, More Choice Act (2019) were discussed, Kusendova participated entirely in French.
“We will encourage the industry to challenge issues of affordability, size of rental units and type of housing,” she said in the spring of 2019.
On the same day, she stood up in support of Bill 107, the Getting Ontario Moving Act, 2019, which enforces more rules of the road, such as fines for passing a school bus with its sign on. ‘stop.
That same spring, Kusendova led the debate on her own bill, Bill 105, the Mandatory Police Training Act (2019). It requires that all police officers, special constables and First Nations constables be trained in the administration of naloxone to help deal with the overdose crisis.
“Mr. President, we know that knowledge is power. With Bill 105, we are empowering all police departments to be trained in the administration of naloxone and save lives,” she said. “Some 60% of opioid overdoses happen in the home, and the police are often the first to arrive on the scene, which is why it is absolutely essential that we move forward with this bill. The alternative is simply unacceptable.
Kusendova has repeatedly stood up at Queen’s Park to address the mental health issues of Ontarians and those in her riding. On November 26, 2019, she stood up in support of Bill 116, the Foundations for the Promotion and Protection of Mental Health and Addictions Services Act, 2019.
“The simple truth is that we cannot address the complex issue of mental health services without addressing addictions services, and vice versa,” said the MPP for Mississauga Center. “Ontarians need and deserve to have access to an integrated and connected system, one that understands that these complex problems require holistic solutions.
Natalia Kusendova (center) knocks on the door with her team.
At the start of 2020, Kusendova again focused on Franco-Ontarian issues and began the early process of passing her second and final bill before the end of her term.
“Ontario’s Francophone community holds an important place in the past, present and future of our province,” said the MPP. “The contributions of Francophones here in Ontario culturally, economically and in our communities across the provinces are invaluable and historic, dating back 400 years.
Kusendova voted in favor of her PC government’s program, but was also keen to support other parties’ motions and bills that aligned with her core positions. In September 2020, Kusendova introduced Motion 87, a bill that recognizes the unique struggles of black communities with mental health. This was written by the Ontario NDP.
In March 2021, she focused on combating human trafficking and helping the government pass legislation to strengthen other laws. She stood to offer her thoughts and support for Bill 251, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (2021).
It amended various laws to focus on streamlining anti-trafficking efforts. It focuses on the government’s response and the province’s duty to engage stakeholders and protect residents from the growing crime of human trafficking. It also strengthens support for children’s aid societies and police forces to better protect young people from becoming victims. It ensures greater protection for survivors of human trafficking and takes into account the unique circumstances that Indigenous communities face.
She brought up Bill 251 again in late May 2021.
“Human trafficking poses a serious threat to the safety of our children; it’s as simple as that,” she said on May 31 last year. “So to suggest that this legislation, with such broad support from children’s aid societies, community human trafficking advocates, our law enforcement and survivors themselves, can be summed up as confusing sex work with human trafficking not only jeopardizes the safety of our children but also diminishes the horrors experienced by its survivors.
In November and December, she supported Bill 37, the Providing More Care, Protecting the Elderly and Building More Beds Act of 2021 and ended her four years by talking about long-term care. duration and the problems that afflict the elderly twice more before the elections.
While Kusendova has worked hard to defend health care, confront human trafficking, the elderly, growing diversity and French issues, the MPP for Mississauga Center did not mention the light transportation system on rail (LRT) of Hurontario during his tenure and did not address issues related to green spaces. and future planning in his constituency, issues that were raised by many constituents.
A desire to reinstall the SLR’s downtown loop in his constituency, which his party canceled, was ignored by the area’s MPP.
Before seeking re-election, a lawsuit against Kusendova was filed by Grant Gorchynski alleging she owes him $30,500 in unpaid loans.
According to Kusendova, the money was provided as a gift to help pay off her student loans and also for incidental expenses that arose throughout the relationship.
Evidence filed with the court contradicts her claim that she did not ask for the money. The evidence also clearly indicates that she should not have accepted it because she knew that the plaintiff was trying to influence her on the issue of a stop along the SLR line.
In an earlier statement to The Pointer, Kusendova said, “I’m looking forward to my day in court.”
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