Big names running to represent Algoma-Manitoulin

Health care appears to be one of the bigger issues for voters along the North Shore as they get set to cast ballots in Algoma-Manitoulin.

Algoma-Manitoulin is one of the larger ridings in the province, stretching from Manitouwadge to Manitoulin Island. Michael Mantha has held the riding for the NDP since 2011.

Before 2011, it had flipped between the Progressive Conservatives and Liberals.

Mantha said health care challenges need to be taken seriously.

"We have to make the investments we need in health care, we have to get doctors in northern Ontario, we have to get specialists here, we have to get nurses, we have to RNs, RPNs, PSWs," he said.

"We're certainly not going to settle for anything less."

Mantha said he has seen problems first hand. In his own community of Elliot Lake, the hospital had to declare a 'code orange' just before Christmas because they didn't have enough staff to run the emergency department.

Emergency cases had to be diverted to nearby Blind River. Health care has also been an area of concern in Thessalon.

"We need primary care in northern Ontario and across Algoma-Manitoulin," he said.

"(We need to make) sure that our roads are safe to travel on and that winter road maintenance is properly servicing our roads. And we need to make absolute investments into mental health because this area is the worst opioid crisis across this province per capita."

Hoping to switch the riding back to red is Tim Vine, Liberal candidate and hospital administrator by trade.

Vine is no stranger to health care, having worked at the Manitoulin Health Centre. He said health has to be the No. 1 priority for Algoma-Manitoulin, given some of what the region has faced.

"There are so many communities that don't have doctors," Vine said. "They don't have access to needed primary care (and struggle) accessing specialists."

If elected, he said he would advocate for made-in-the-north solutions and convince Queen's Park to "buy in."

Vine said he's cognizant of the fact the Liberals are the third-place party and that they were decimated in the last election.

He's been telling voters the party has taken a good, long look in the mirror and learned from its past mistakes. The reception he's getting from the doors is positive, he added.

"I think there's a lot of people that don't understand how close the system came to the brink during COVID and it hasn't gotten better," Vine said.

"We're seeing burnout in nurses and burnout in doctors and frankly we're seeing burnout right across the medical community."

CTV News made several attempts to contact Progressive Conservative candidate Cheryl Fort since May 13. At one point, her office said the questions would have to be vetted in advance, which is against CTV News policy.

Another email was sent to her campaign and we were unable to accommodate her before the broadcast deadline.

CTV News also made multiple attempts to reach Green Party candidate Maria Legault, through her email and the party, and were unable to reach her.

Other candidates in the running include New Blue's Ron Koski and the Ontario Party's Frederick Weening.