York-Simcoe's federal Liberal candidate Daniella Johnson is running to make life easier for young people, families, parents, and seniors and strongly believes her party's plan represents the best path forward for residents of Bradford West Gwillimbury, King Township, East Gwillimbury, and Georgina.
Johnson was born in Toronto and grew up in Kitchener, Ontario. She was very close to her family growing up, and shares that the values instilled in her by her parents when she was young are what drive her today in her various endeavors.
Johnson also carries strong ties to her grandparents who immigrated to Canada from Jamaica.
She and her husband currently reside in Guelph and have been married for two years. They are expecting their first child this fall.
In her spare time, Johnson enjoys travelling (pre-Covid), being outdoors, and going for hikes with her husband. Johnson also has an appreciation for the arts.
“I’m currently learning how to paint, although I don’t have an artistic bone in me at all,” she jokes.
Johnson attended the University of Western and completed a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and sociology along with a certificate in community development. She holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) through the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University and is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and Corporate Social Responsibility/Sustainability practitioner (CSR-P).
She began her career in social services as a caseworker for Ontario Works and at the Waterloo Region Immigration Partnership where she collaborated with multiple organizations and fostered partnerships to facilitate the successful transition of immigrants and refugees into their local communities.
She later held roles with the Ontario Trillium Foundation and LIFT Philanthropy Partners, which both led to multiple initiatives in support of non-profits and building healthy, vibrant communities.
“I think I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve had opportunities throughout my career and also through my personal life with the volunteer roles I have taken on, to really give back, serve and work together with various communities I’ve been a part of,” she says. “I’ve always been interested in politics and in terms of where we are now – coming out of the Covid-pandemic and everything we’ve been through over the last 18 months – the time felt right.”
She adds she has had many conversations with residents from various communities, from young to old, and sees this election as the breaking point and an opportunity to make their voices heard.
Johnson’s platform covers central topics such as cutting through the housing crisis and unlocking homeownership with more affordable housing options, supporting small-to-medium-sized businesses through the Covid-19 recovery process and accelerating climate action by cutting Canada’s pollution. She is also advocating for more mental health support.
“This is one that really touches home for me as I have close family members and friends who suffer from mental illness or have struggled with depression or anxiety,” she says.
“As we look at this pandemic and with my conversations with people, for young people and our kids who had to struggle with not being in the classroom, being at home and not being around their friends, there’s that aspect of isolation. And with our seniors, I’ve had so many conversations with them too, and really just everyone in between where mental health is a very real issue,” she says.
“We need accessible mental health support. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re dealing with, what time of day you need support, you need to be able to have that support regardless. In terms of long waitlists and affordability, we need to make sure we address that because it’s such a huge issue especially coming out of the Covid pandemic... I will make sure to be a strong champion on this.”
Johnson adds that the Liberals are funding a national three-digit mental health crisis and suicide prevention hotline which she feels will be key in getting help to those immediately in crisis, or those struggling with isolation, depression, and other mental illnesses which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“I spent time while in university, volunteering for a mental health crisis line,” she shares. “Having a national three-digit simple number that people can call and get support at any time is just huge and absolutely necessary.”
When asked about the recovery support for small businesses which have been hit the hardest during the pandemic lockdown and restrictions, Johnson says this is a genuine concern for her.
“When we’re supporting small businesses, we’re supporting families, we’re supporting our local communities. We recognize the different challenges and barriers and how much the pandemic has affected those businesses, so we want to ensure we have the right resources in place," she says.
“When I see that businesses haven’t been able to make it through the pandemic, I hope there are things we can try to do to get your business back up and running, but it’s hard and I get that, that’s your livelihood. In terms of support… I would love to really engage with those business owners and come up with solutions to get you back up and running while communicating those supports with you.”
Johnson shared in a recent press release that the Liberals will be extending the Canada Recovery Hiring Benefit to help businesses recover from COVID-19 while providing resources to make it easier for small businesses to invest in their own growth (such as transitioning to a digital or online platform).
In light of the recent provincial announcement regarding vaccination passports which will become mandatory for entrance into a variety of establishments on September 22, Johnson is in full support.
“I support the federal government's current efforts to create a national proof of vaccination system - what some are referring to as a vaccine passport. An internationally recognized proof of vaccination document will allow Canadians to travel safely both at home and abroad,” she says. “This measure will allow Canadians to return to normal faster and will speed up our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. A federally-run proof of vaccination system will also help provinces implement their own proof of vaccination systems tailored to their needs if they choose to do so.”
She adds, “For me, looking at the future of our young people, parents, and families bringing new children into the world - we want to make sure we’re doing the best we can to ensure they have a safe and bright future. What’s going to get us there? That’s top of the line for me!”
“We need to invest in affordable childcare and to ensure that homeownership is attainable for young people, single parents, and for seniors looking to downsize. We need health care close to home and solutions to our traffic problems. This beautiful area cares deeply about protecting our environment, fighting climate change, and cleaning up Lake Simcoe,” she said in a recent press release. “It’s time for you to be heard. You deserve a representative who will help you get what you need and what you deserve. “I know there’s so much more we can accomplish together to support families, Indigenous communities, small businesses, and everyone who calls York-Simcoe home. As a growing and increasingly diverse community, it’s time for York-Simcoe to make its mark.”
“I don’t have all the answers, but I am someone who will be present, who will listen so that we can work together and fight for the issues that matter. That is exactly what I intend to do and my career has prepared me and helped me going forward with this campaign.”
Election day is Sept. 20.