By Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller
Thank you to the residents of Parry Sound-Muskoka for the honour of representing you for 21 years
On April 24, I had the pleasure of joining Premier Ford to announce $14 million in funding for the phased expansion of both sites of Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare. This funding will modernize and expand the services available for families in East Parry Sound while adding more than 50 beds to support high-quality care. The announcement will enhance vital services like chronic disease management, mental health and addiction services, and emergency services, and the increased capacity will help with rising demand and equip MAHC to handle any future crises.
It seems fitting that this announcement will be the last one I make as MPP for Parry Sound–Muskoka. Advocating for sufficient hospital funding for medium-sized rural hospitals was something that was very important to me in my 21 years as MPP. For many years, small- and medium-sized hospitals were underfunded. Hospitals had to come to the province every year asking for enough money to finish the fiscal year. Our government fixed this last year, and I am thankful to Minister Elliott for addressing this long-standing issue. I am proud to leave behind a stronger and more resilient healthcare system as I approach the end of my career in public office.
On April 7, I had the chance to rise in the Legislature to give my farewell speech. I was proud to do so while wearing my father’s Royal Stewart tartan jacket, which he wore to deliver several budgets during his time as Treasurer. Although he was the one who inspired me to get involved in politics, I have many people to thank for supporting me every step of the way on this journey.
I have to start by thanking the most significant people in my life: my family. Thank you to my wife, Christine, and our children, Abigale, Renee, Stuart, and Winston, for their support and understanding all these years. I also want to thank my grandchildren, Beatrice, Noelle, Malcolm, and Oscar. I’m looking forward to spending more time taking them fishing, taking them flying, and trying to keep up with them on the ski hills. As my father always said, “Family is the most important thing in life.”
I also want to pay tribute to my mother, Ann McArthur Norman, who kept our family grounded while my father was in office. When my father was first elected in 1971, there were no constituency offices. Constituents often called the phone at our business, Patterson Kaye Lodge, looking for help with provincial issues. My mother served as an unpaid constituency assistant while managing the lodge and tackling the gigantic task of raising four, not always well behaved, kids.
Reflecting on this reminds me of all the excellent staff who have served in my constituency offices in Bracebridge and Parry Sound. I want to thank my current constituency staff, Christine Marshall and Karen Gauvreau from Bracebridge, and Emily Britton from Parry Sound for all of their hard work helping people with all manner of constituency issues.
Constituency staff often don’t get the appreciation they deserve, and I have been lucky to have had many wonderful people pass through the constituency offices, including Jess Fargher-Lee, Mandy Davis, Yvonne Parkhill, and Inge Juneau. And I want to especially recognize Jessie Crisp, who served as a constituency assistant for 40 years, first for Ernie Eves and then for me. I want to thank each of these people for the many hours spent helping people with problems big and small. They made a difference in countless lives.
In the last 21 years, I have learned about issues facing the people of Ontario and did what I could to solve them. For example, the issue of increasing insurance costs for snow removal contractors, which I hope was helped by my private member’s bill, the Occupiers’ Liability Amendment Act, when it became law last year. I am especially proud of the pieces of legislation I passed to protect the environment, like my private members’ bills on product stewardship, producer responsibility, waste diversion, composting, and reducing dock foam pollution. I hope that with these, I leave behind a lasting impact.
Being an MPP has given me the chance to experience this province in ways I never dreamed I would. I was able to travel around Northern Ontario, visiting the Ring of Fire, remote northern fly-in communities, and multiple mines. Northern Ontario is a special place with special people, and I consider myself lucky to have seen so much of it.
Serving as MPP for Parry Sound–Muskoka was an immense privilege that I never took for granted. Of course it was only possible with the support of the people who helped me run in my first campaign all those years ago. I want to thank Hugh Mackenzie, who served as my father’s chief of staff when he was premier and who started my political career by nominating me to run as the PC candidate in Parry Sound–Muskoka.
I also want to thank the members of the Parry Sound–Muskoka riding association, especially Fran Coleman, Tim West, Gail Maeck, and all the volunteers, for being the boots on the ground in many campaigns and keeping me connected to the local issues while I was at Queen’s Park.
Finally, I wish to give my sincere thanks to the people of Parry Sound–Muskoka for your support and trust. Representing you at Queen’s Park for 21 years has been one of the great honours of my life and I hope you feel that I did so faithfully.
Photo of MPP Norm Miller is courtesy of his office. Queen’s Park photo “June 2012 Ontario Legislature Toronto” by Priscilla Jordão, via Wikimedia Commons, is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original.
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