From elder abuse to minimum wage, Kathleen Wynne faces tough questions in Ottawa

Premier Kathleen Wynne faced a range of questions about her economic agenda and the safety of people and workers in Ontario's long-term care homes, hospitals, schools and jails at a Thursday evening town hall.

More than 300 people attended the town hall at Benjamin Franklin Place in Nepean

Premier Kathleen Wynne talks to the audience at Benjamin Franklin Place in the west Ottawa community of Nepean. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Premier Kathleen Wynne faced a broad range of questions at her Thursday night town hall in Ottawa, many coming back to the theme of safety in different facets of life in the province.

The town hall attracted more than 300 people between the auditorium and an overflow area at Benjamin Franklin Place in west Ottawa.

It's the latest in a tour that began at the end of 2017.

One questioner, Shirley Mosley, ripped her question from the headlines by holding up recent stories about verbal and physical abuse in Ottawa long-term care homes.

The 76-year-old urged the premier to take action.

"Would it be possible at all to have cameras in each and every seniors' home?" she asked.

"I had a mother [in care in] 1981 and I saw abuse then. Now it's my turn!"

Shirley Mosley, an Ottawa West-Nepean resident, asked Premier Kathleen Wynne for action on abuse in long-term care homes. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

She added it may be the premier's turn someday if she doesn't act.

Wynne deferred on the specific measure of cameras, but said her government was working to increase standards for vulnerable people in health care system and retirement homes.

"We've increased inspections, but I agree with you there's more we need to do," she replied. 

Other safety concerns raised

The premier got several questions about how the government could do more to prevent anti-Semitic and racist attacks and stop partner-based violence.

Pat Dixon, from the Ottawa-Carleton Elementary Occasional Teachers Association, spoke about how there are not enough resources for teachers to deal with students who had become violent and disruptive.

She talked about teachers wearing two layers of Kevlar and evacuating their classrooms.

Wynne acknowledged those concerns, raised examples of government measures and returned to the refrain that more needed to be done.​

The premier is gearing up for another election this June and argued the case that there's more for the Liberals to do after nearly a decade and a half in power at Queen's Park.

Some disruptions

When Wynne raised her economic agenda, it was met with some jeers. This was the first town hall since Ontario's minimum wage increased to $14 an hour Jan. 1.

Brandon Wallingford, a 29-year-old from Barrhaven, heckled the premier's talk of her economic record.

He said he has seen job losses due to the minimum wage increase and compared the basic income pilot program to Soviet socialism.

"Tell me what you're going to do make our province grow, to make our province have jobs. Don't tell me what benefits you're going to give me when I'm jobless," he said.

Brandon Wallingford from Barrhaven spoke against Premier Kathleen Wynne's economic policies at the town hall in Nepean. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Wynne said she didn't accept the idea of a dichotomy between setting a standard for a living wage and a growing economy and that Ontario's growth in recent months showed both were possible.

An audience member was interrupted while asking a question in French by someone who shouted "English!"

Wynne responded to the question in French and then English, saying the province is looking to francophone immigration to keep the language strong.

Another man repeatedly interrupted Wynne and sprung up to accuse her of destroying families by putting children in government-run facilities at an earlier age while forcing parents to work harder.

Wynne fielded the question, acknowledging that people are working harder than ever before.

She said her government's policies are trying to make sure people can get ahead when they work hard and so women can access the workforce.