With the federal election campaign nearing the final stretch, I was interested to find out how the parties measured up on environmental issues, in particular their approach to challenges people with Environmental Illness face.
Also referred to as Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Environmental Illness affects thousands of Canadians who can experience life threatening reactions to common chemicals and products used everywhere in our society.
After contacting all parties with candidates in the Winnipeg Centre riding, Don Woodstock of the Green Party was the only one who took time to speak with me. To be fair, Liberal Party candidate, Robert Ouellette, was kind enough and willing to listen, however, I have not heard back from him.
Woodstock is a man of many hats. Working his way from the ground up, the community oriented Winnipeg resident and Green Party Candidate in Winnipeg Centre, Woodstock promotes himself as an honourable man with integrity, humour and a solution oriented focus. He claims he is trying to do all he can to improve the quality of life for Winnipeg Centre constituents.
As it turns out, the Green Party’s platform indirectly offers solutions to many of the issues surrounding Environmental Illness. The party’s policies on poverty, housing, alternative health, creating jobs from home, educating the public on the dangers of fragrances and chemicals, and on other matters concerning the environment, reveal a political party promising to take action in order to create a healthy environment for all Canadians.
Woodstock says he is empathetic to people facing challenges with health, poverty and all the problems that come with Environmental Illness.
In regards to housing and income, the Green Party supports a Guaranteed Livable Income.
“Housing strategy is to put people into housing, let’s talk about how we are going to make sure that we eliminate some of the nonsense that goes with other things that is associated with lack of housing,” says Woodstock.
“We know that in Dauphin, Manitoba, at the time when they did this study, everybody got an income that they did not have to worry about anything else, and as a result of that, it worked. So as a result of that why don’t we have the NDP, the Liberals or the Conservatives jumping on board and say here is a way we can solve homelessness,” Woodstock wonders.
“Why isn’t the mayor of the city of Winnipeg jumping on board with this?” he asks.
“We want to make sure people have decent housing, decent health care coverage, some affordable dental coverage of some sort,” says Woodstock.
The issues highlighted in the Dauphin study, as well as homelessness experienced by people with Environmental Illness or Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, are all matters Woodstock says the Green Party is willing to address.
“The four years I spent on the board of REES (Reaching E-Quality Employment Services) shaped my consciousness for people with disability,” Woodstock says. “I was blind but now I see as the song of Amazing Grace says in terms of the needs…It makes a difference when you see.”
In regards to environmental sustainability and growing food sustainably, Woodstock showed me the four or five days of growth in the OmegaGarden™ stack he had in his office.
The Omega Garden are rotary hydroponic systems designed to grow food indoors in small spaces.
“We’ve got to move away and go to something else that is healthier and uses no pesticides. This is one way to grow pesticide free and make it sustainable at a very minimal cost,” Woodstock says.
Another area Woodstock is focused on is alternative medicine.
“Bringing alternative medicine into the system is a no brainer when it comes to prevention and maintaining health. Nobody is talking about it because they are afraid to talk about it,” he says.
“Alternative medicine is a healthier way of treating and a more sustainable way because every single drug you take for something has side effects that mess up something else. You fix up one problem but you create other issues later on,” explains Woodstock.
“Alternative medicine is here, it is something that we have to look at because it is part of what is going to save Canada, it’s going to save billions of dollars. We can save this country something like 13 billion of dollars annually if we buy in bulk and we look at prevention. We need to do something addressing that issue. Enough people are not talking about it because it is not a sexy enough subject for them,” he adds.
Many people with Environmental Illness/Multiple Chemical Sensitivities cannot tolerate prescription medicine and cannot afford alternative medicine and therefore fall between the cracks.
Woodstock says his focus is “Creating green jobs, creating green transportation, ways to create a more sustainable future.”
In regards to the use of fragrances in public places and on buses, Woodstock says, “Smoking used to be in buildings, now smoking cannot be within 25 feet of the building.”
He adds,“I would start with an education component (i.e., fragrance free buses). I know first-hand it is an issue. I met you and I have met people before who have this as an issue so yeah I hear you and I will be prepared to deal with this from an education component.”