CARP – A good job and hard work no longer guarantees success in life. The challenges the middle-class faces are the challenges New Democratic Party Kanata-Carleton candidate Melissa Coenraad knows well.
She has 15 years’ experience working as a microbiology technician at the Ottawa Hospital. She has been the union president for lab technicians for four years, responsible for 16 hospitals from Ottawa to Deep River to Cornwall. She’s also a single mother raising a 10-year-old-boy.
“I’m watching labs shut down at the small hospitals because they can’t afford it anymore and they are sending the work to the big hospitals,” Coenraad told West Carleton Online from Alice’s Village Café Tuesday, Sept. 5. “I think the biggest change I didn’t realize is the challenges I’m hearing about at the doors. The cost of living, home ownership, the cost of pharmacare. It sparked me to want to lobby for people. Talking to politicians who could afford health care and didn’t understand the average person’s challenge.”
Coenraad is new to federal politics, but her union leadership role has provided her with lots of political experience. She is a Kanata resident but grew up in the agricultural area of Stirling, ON.
“Where I grew up there was no transit either,” she said. “You had to ride your bike or find a lift. It was a 45-minute bus ride to school. Having a job as a teenager wasn’t always an option.”
Coenraad was acclaimed to the position last March and has been spending her time canvassing almost every night since.
“It’s going well,” she said. “People are receiving our platform well. We’re getting a lot of good engagement and questions. People are concerned with the current government’s direction and what would happen if the Conservatives get in. People want a change.”
She says she’s been all ears on those canvassing trips.
“A lot of it is listening,” Coenraad said. “I want to hear what they have to say. I want to know what their needs are rather than just talking at people. I have heard a little bit about transit, not surprising, and services.”
She says people are also concerned about tuition costs and jobs after school.
“There’s no cookie-cutter way to diversify,” Coenraad said. “It’s a lot of hard work and dedication. We want to help Canadians thrive. We’re hearing people are having trouble. It’s not like they remember when they were younger.”