Andréane Chénier, the NDP’s federal election candidate for Nickel Belt, describes herself as one who wears many hats – she works as a health and safety representative for CUPE, is studying to earn her MBA, and runs a small regenerative farm business in Hanmer with her husband René Comtois and their two children. Despite being very busy, she is making the time to campaign for the federal election to be held Sept. 20, hoping to unseat incumbent Marc Serré.
“What motivated me (to run in this election) was frustration coupled with failure on the part of the federal and provincial governments to move decisively to deal with the pandemic,” states Chénier, who has been involved with the NDP for about 10 years. She says she was drawn to the party because “building a middle class, making life easier and more affordable” are ideals she shares with the NDP.
Chénier has earned an honours Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry and a Master of Science in Immunology from the University of Ottawa, as well as a Ph.D. in Biomolecular Sciences from Laurentian University. While dealing with the pandemic is the first order of business, she sees many priorities to help move Nickel Belt forward. Chénier says the NDP strategy involves investments in infrastructure, most notably in affordable housing – their plan includes building 500,000 new units, with half built in the first five years. “Our platform is also geared towards purchasing Canadian products first so that will also stimulate other sectors,” she adds.
“When you drive around Nickel Belt you don’t always have cell phone services and nor do you always have access to the internet in your community,” Chénier points out. She says the NDP would ensure that access to reliable, high-speed internet is available throughout the entire country. “So, we need a modernization of those structures (…) so the people who are working in (the new projects) will turn around and have money to spend in their communities.”
She adds that an NDP government would make large investments in health care. “We see health care as head-to-toe,” stresses Chénier, touting their plan to implement pharmacare (free prescription drugs) and work towards making eye care, dental care, and mental health care free to all Canadians. “Proper dental care is important; if you can’t eat properly everything else becomes difficult and can affect things like cardiac health.”
When asked her party’s stance on COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine passports, Chénier says she supports mandatory vaccination for “particular groups” in vulnerable sectors and that vaccine passports have many benefits for communities and small businesses. “Vaccine passports will allow (…) small businesses to open to assure their clientele when you’re coming in, you’re coming into a safe space,” she states. “(Vaccination) is a great tool – it’s not the only tool, and so as this fourth wave is climbing, it’s coming, a combo of ensuring that individuals have vaccines as well as employing other health measures while continuing to physical distance is actually key to our ability to recover.”