Anxious for change in light of proposed cuts to health and education by Ontario's Progressive Conservative government, Sudbury joined more than 50 communities across Ontario Saturday in hosting the first NDP Day of Action.
Described as the first of many by Nick Higgins, president of the Sudbury NDP provincial riding, each Day of Action asks supporters to go door-to-door, enaging their neighbours in dialogue about government policies.
Saturday's event was held to protest of recent education cuts made by Premier Doug Ford's government, specifically $1 billion in spending cuts and cuts to the number of teachers and educators, which will lead to an increase in class sizes and online education. While participants were given petitions with the goal of collecting community signatures, they were reminded that the focus was constructive dialogue.
"Campaigning, you spend no more than 30 seconds on the door, so this is a chance for us to talk about specific issues, get to know people, introduce ourselves, and let them know what we do," said Higgins. "There are some subtle things in (the 2019 budget) that are going to fundementally change education and health care," which is why he said it is so important to help the community understand the details and offer them a chance to express their thoughts.
"It's hard to say how these political decisions will affect people's lives."
It is this fear of the unknown that motivated Sean Staddon, co-founder of the Northern Ontario Autism Alliance, to attend the Day of Action alongside his daughter June.
"My little girl is four and she'll be in school next year (which makes this) extremely important to us, and any parent with special needs children especially," said Staddon.
June is pre-verbal, meaning that in addition to the care involved with a stage three diagnosis on the autism spectrum, she requires 10 hours of speech therapy, which is currently being completed at home.
"We're worried about extra support in schools," said Staddon, and that contracts will not be renewed, shrinking an already understaffed special needs support team.
"When government policies are made, they never seem to think of our unique needs in Northern Ontario," said Staddon.
Which is why, he said, the Northern Ontario Autism Alliance decided it was so important to combine voices from communities across Northern Ontario, so as not to be "left behind".
Staddon was one of roughly 15 people that participated in Sudbury's NDP Day of Action, half of which were first-time participants in the NDP Sudbury riding.
"Obviously we're trying to put pressure on this issue and hopfully stop the cuts to education, but we had new people walk in the door today and now they're knocking on doors with our petitions, so that's an accomplishment on its own," said Higgins.
Find out more about the NDP Day of Action by the NDP Ontario website.