Lisa MacLeod, out of cabinet, taking time off to address mental, physical health

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Lisa MacLeod, then Ontario's minister of tourism, culture and sport, attends a briefing in Toronto in June 2020. On Friday, after it was announced that a rookie MPP would be stepping into her cabinet post, MacLeod announced that she's taking some time off to focus on her well-being. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Lisa MacLeod, then Ontario's minister of tourism, culture and sport, attends a briefing in Toronto in June 2020. On Friday, after it was announced that a rookie MPP would be stepping into her cabinet post, MacLeod announced that she's taking some time off to focus on her well-being. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press - image credit)

On the same day she lost her cabinet post, recently re-elected Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod announced she's taking some time off to address her mental and physical health.

In a statement posted on social media Friday afternoon, MacLeod said she's following the advice of her doctor and medical support team.

"The last couple of years have been difficult for many people. I know I am not alone in this regard. In my case, my mental and physical health and well-being has been greatly impacted," the statement reads.

"I have spoken previously about some of my wellness challenges. As many people can understand, and know all too well themselves, maintaining your mental and physical health is a constant challenge. There are ups and downs. I am down now but will stand up again soon."

A rocky road to re-election

MacLeod won this month's re-election with 39 per cent of the vote, a drop of about six per cent from her result in 2018. The Liberals came in second place with 33 per cent.

She did not speak with journalists before or after her win, and reporters were locked out of her campaign headquarters during her victory speech.

During the campaign, the Ontario NDP revealed MacLeod had received more than $44,000 in the form of an allowance from her Ottawa-area riding association over three years, including money to help pay for her housing.

Although it was legal, PC Leader Doug Ford said he was "frustrated" by it and would work with other party leaders to prevent the use of riding association funds for MPP allowances.

MacLeod — the most senior PC MPP in the National Capital Region — was notably not at Ford's side when he stopped in the capital during the campaign.

In her Friday statement, posted after the announcement that first-time MPP Neil Lumsden would step into her most recent cabinet role as minister of heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries, MacLeod thanked Ford "for his support, his kindness, and his faith in me over the years."

"The leadership opportunities I had were thanks to his confidence in me."

She also wrote she'll support old and new colleagues in cabinet "where and when I can."

Ongoing criticism for autism changes

In 2019, as then minister of children, community and social services, MacLeod introduced changes to Ontario's autism funding model that drew swift and sharp condemnation from families.

She has continued to face criticism for those changes in the years since, including during this most recent election campaign, and was particularly emphatic about it at a campaign kickoff event in early May.

Submitted by Ontario Autism Coalition
Submitted by Ontario Autism Coalition

"I will always stand up for peaceful protest. But what I will not stand up for, what my daughter will not stand up for, and what I know none of you will stand up for, is the four years of harassment, intimidation and death threats that some people decided I should live with," she told a crowd of supporters.

"And again today, trying to take my voice from me; trying to take your voices from you. Peaceful protest, yes. Intimidation and harassment to try and drive someone out of office is never OK."

MacLeod has sometimes received special police protection due to threats she's received.

It's unclear whether taking time off is related to the criticism she's faced.

MacLeod wrote that while constituents won't see her as much this summer, her team "will be there to help you as we always have."

"While taking a breather is not a decision I have taken lightly, it is the right one to make now."

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