My responses to the Daily Xtra Ottawa’s candidate questionnaire.
How do you feel about the current level of municipal funding to LGBT organizations like Capital Pride and PTS?
I think the City has been doing great work at funding a number of Ottawa’s LGBT organizations and events over the last few years. Can more be done, absolutely.
Claudia Van den Heuvel, PTS’s executive director, took an unpaid leave in June because the charity didn’t have enough funding to cover her salary while continuing to cover other expenses and programming. She’s back temporarily to help the charity prepare funding applications. As a city councillor, what role would you play to ensure LGBT charities were able to continue to offer services to the LGBT community?
As city councillor my role would be as a partner. I believe the city, community and LGBT organizations must work together as partners to ensure the much needed services are delivered to those who need them. The city cannot fund organizations, whether LGBT or not, on its own. The reality is we have way more LGBT organizations than we use to and less city dollars to spread around. Many of these organizations offer very similar services yet competing for the same funds. Instead of spreading ourselves thin and struggling to deliver said services, we need to pool our resources together and help those who need us the most which must be without a doubt our top priority. As city councillor, I would help facilitate such partnerships and do what I can to ensure the city plays a part.
There are non-LGBT organizations that serve queer and trans community members. How important is that LGBT Ottawans can access support services from LGBT service providers at LGBT organizations?
We as a community have come a long way thanks to those who have come before us to pave the way like Marie Robertson, Barry Deeprose, Cathy Collett, George Hartsgrove and Kerry Becket (to name a few). It is thanks to them and many others that we have equal, safe and quick access to the same services as everyone else. That has always been our end goal, to be treated with respect and with true equality. That said, there is still work to do and because of that, there are some who for a number of reasons feel more comfortable dealing with or being cared by a LGBT person or organization. It is very important that they have access to the LGBT specific services they require. We just have to make sure that it is done in the most efficient way without duplication and wasting important funds.
Is there anything you’d like to add about serving the needs of the LGBT population, particularly its most vulnerable members?
LGBT seniors. For many of our seniors entering a seniors’ residence or long-term care home means going back into the closet. More often than not after coming out at a much later age allowing them to truly be themselves only for a very short time. It is important that we ensure our LGBT seniors have equal access to the same services sooner rather than later without having to pretend to be someone they are not. They deserve nothing less.