By Sean Delaney
For MP Judy Sgro, reflecting on the past year extends into another calendar, as the past two years, she said, have seen her working on a private member’s bill calling for a national eye strategy.
After two years of working with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), other organizations for the blind, and her colleagues in the house,
“I got it through the first, second, and third readings, through the committee approximately a month ago, and it had a first reading in the Senate.”
Sgro said she is quite proud of the work as it will put a focus at the federal level on vision care.
“One in five people have an eye disease, and most don’t know,” she said. “So, by doing research and analysis, because we also have an aging population in which macular degeneration is a big issue, with more investments in research and awareness and working with the provinces to make sure people have access, we can improve people’s lives.”
Sgro said most people don’t go to the eye doctor until it is too late. Children should have their eyes checked on a regular basis, and a more proactive approach is needed. She told the story of one young man she met who, in high school, was about to be placed into assisted classes because educators were guessing he was struggling mentally. However, an eye exam revealed he was partially blind.
“It’s just one example,” she said. “But I believe raising awareness is important, especially with the time people spend on screens now.”
Sgro said her government is also working to advance a national dental strategy. The changes they’ve made have already seen the country’s 12 and under group receive almost $2 million in federal support for dental work, and that is being expanded to the 87 and over age group, with a long-term goal of getting a national dental plan available for all age groups for those who don’t have coverage under an employer or other benefit plan.
“We’re hoping by the end of 2024 to have another significant segment of people that will have access to it,” she said.
“We are changing the face of Humber River - Black Creek,” she said. “Whether with the dental program, the Canada Child Benefit, which has put $125 million into the riding, and that’s just our riding. So, between housing benefits, and other programs, I feel the face of the riding is changing. I think people have more access to taking care of themselves and their children. And I’m proud of that.”
On the business side, Sgro said she has initiated an entrepreneur strategy to support women getting into their own businesses.
And a final issue she looks forward to approaching is airport noise.
“It’s been really problematic this year,” she said. “So, I have brought in a piece of legislation to cover off a whole bunch of issues around the airport, but very specifically airport noise. The airport plans to grow significantly in the next few years, and we already have several concerns. New planes coming in are supposed to be much quieter, but when they’re going right over you, I don’t know how much quieter it can be. So, we will continue working on that.”
Sgro said she feels a lot of good stuff is happening and stressed that she always loves to do more. “Making sure people have good jobs, doing everything we can,” she said. “If Humber River is successful, the country is successful.”
She also said she wants people to do everything they can to forward the message of peace, kindness, and respect for each other.
“Those messages of kindness are important. And I want everyone to have a peaceful holiday season filled with joy.”