By Chad Ingram
Published Oct. 15 2019
The following are candidate responses to five questions sent via email by the Echo.
1. While the country now has a national housing strategy housing remains unaffordable for many Canadians. In many communities in the riding there’s a backlog of people on the waiting list for affordable housing. What is the federal government’s role when it comes to housing and housing affordability and what can be done to address these challenges?
When Canadians have a place to call home their health productivity and contribution to the community will improve. For 10 years Conservatives did nothing to address housing affordability – pushing home ownership further out of reach and increasing household stress.
The National Housing Strategy created by this Liberal government is Canada’s first National Housing Strategy – to help provide shelter for seniors; women and children fleeing family violence; Indigenous peoples persons with disabilities; those dealing with mental health and addiction issues; veterans; and young adults – providing a blueprint for reducing chronic homelessness by 50 per cent and removing more than 530000 households from housing needs lists.
As we overcome some of the delays caused by the stalling tactics of the Ford government we will begin to see the impact of more of these housing investments in our community.
A re-elected Liberal government will continue to roll out this strategy and provide up to 10 per cent off the purchase price for an estimated 120000 new home buyers; provide more help to
home buyers working in big cities such as Toronto invest $5 million in purpose built accessible housing for veterans address the impact of foreign speculation in our housing market which drives up pricing and with the National Tourism strategy we will also increase investments in infrastructure to address the needs for adequate housing and community spaces communities like ours that rely on tourism.
Nobody should have to go into buying their first home by “beating the stress test.” This is not about increasing the debt ratio it’s really about empowering the buyer. This means having jobs that pay a fair wage and provides buyers with the ability to get out of renting and into purchasing and building equity.
We also have to cool the housing market. This means building 500000 new affordable housing units in 10 years investing in co-ops mid-rises and townhomes as well as single detached units. Working with developers with dedicated fast start funds streamlining application processes and helping communities get the expertise and assistance they need to put shovels in the ground in the first year.
We will offer 30-year mortgages to lower people’s monthly payments. Doubling the First Time Home Buyers Credit to $1500 will help pay for land transfer and legal fees.
We can also offer retrofit programs to people buying resale homes so that they can save $900 or more per year on their home energy costs.
Our youth are discouraged about their prospects of ever buying their own home and think they will get caught in rental markets forever. By making post-secondary tuition free and immediately cancelling all interest on student loans our young people will come into the job market with less debt and a better ability to look at home ownership as a real prospect instead of just a dream they might never achieve.
For those struggling with ever increasing rental costs the NDP will offer a relief program that will assist people with up to $5000 towards rent.
Housing is a crucial issue when addressing the overall quality of life of individuals. All Canadians should have the right to safe secure and affordable housing something the Green Party would seek to legislate as a fundamental human right. In order to ensure we have more affordable homes we will strengthen the National Housing Strategy by appointing a Minister of Housing whose mandate will be to build 25000 new and rehabilitate 15000 homes each year for the next 10 years. However we must also help those who need housing now. Increasing the Canada Housing Benefit by $750 million we can provide rental assistance for 125000 households. We need to shift our focus from helping Canadians buy homes to getting Canadians into homes. Changing the way we think about a home and introducing new solutions such as tiny houses or more basement apartments can help address the housing crisis more immediately.
A People’s Party government will protect our citizens from the risks and costs of an expensive and ill-conceived national housing strategy. Affordable housing is an economic and legislative problem that has ballooned in significance and severity over time. Adding more government involvement to address this issue will only make the problem worse.
One of its root causes includes excessive government growth which can be broken down into two parts: “red tape inflation” and “tax inflation.” Consider the following tax inflation scenario.
In 1961 the average Canadian family breadwinner forfeited 38 per cent of his annual earnings to taxes from all sources. Today it’s 53 per cent. This means that if a person in 2019 Haliburton earns $100000 per year $53000 is lost to taxes compared to $38000 (today’s dollars) of the typical 1961 family man. This $15000 in “tax inflation” occurred as a direct consequence of funding our expanding public bureaucracies. This $15000 would go a long way to make housing more affordable if only we could curb and reverse “tax inflation.”
“Red tape inflation” is worse. It has involved the steady proliferation of government-created building codes and required licensing/certifications for skilled trades workers. The compliance costs for these are passed on to consumers as higher prices.
It is unfair to Canadian households that politicians government department heads and public sector union executives will materially benefit from the expanding bureaucracies and their budgets. Canadian taxpayers do not need this extra tax burden especially when the federal debt (future taxes) already exceeds $700 billion.
2. Do you support carbon pricing/taxation and why? What does a responsible federal plan to combat climate change look like?
Our riding is home to a number of diverse landscapes including the beautiful Lake Simcoe Watershed to the dense forests in the northern region of our riding we certainly have a lot to be grateful for – and a lot to protect. In fact this is why the Conservative Party has committed to restoring the Lake Simcoe Clean-Up Fund with a $30 million investment over four years to support over 200 community-based projects. This project was cancelled by the Liberals in 2017 and I have fought in support of the Lake Simcoe Clean-Up Fund – and the tangible results it was having on our communities.
Canadians trusted Justin Trudeau when he said he would protect the environment and lower Canada’s emissions. Instead all they got was a carbon tax. Not only is Canada failing to hit our Paris Agreement targets we are getting further and further away. We should all be concerned about climate change and about the kind of planet we will leave to our children. That’s why I am proud to share the Conservative Party’s Real Plan to Protect Our Environment which is built on three guiding principles:
1. Green technology not taxes.
2. A cleaner and greener natural environment.
3. Taking the climate change fight global.
Under the Conservative plan it will not be free to pollute – and unlike the Liberal scheme there will be no sweetheart deals for anybody. Further we can actually create more jobs in Canada through technological growth while at the same time lowering global emissions.
I support carbon taxing with rebates as a scientific based and proven method to help consumers reduce their carbon footprint. First introduced in British Columbia in 2007 emissions are now down 12 per cent on a per capita basis and since 1990 B.C. emissions for each unit of economic output have been nearly cut in half.
But the national carbon tax and rebate program is only part of the solution to get to net-zero emissions as a country. We must continue to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels invest in net zero solutions and work hard to conserve our national resources. A responsible federal plan to combat climate change must include a price on pollution as a starting point and include a five-year binding milestone for pollution reduction – put forward by climate experts; investments to retrofit existing homes and buildings and new standards for new buildings; phasing out the use of coal and our reliance on fossil fuels; funding to replace public transportation and personal vehicles with net zero-emission models; skills development to transition to and build new careers in the green economy; an aggressive conservation agenda to preserve our oceans forests natural habitats oceans and waterways combined with clean water initiatives to preserve our greatest resource – water; tax credits to encourage and support innovation in net zero emission solutions and; open international trade and development to assist countries that need help to combat climate change.
It’s time for an ambitious comprehensive plan to take urgent action on climate change create jobs and strengthen our communities. NDP supports carbon pricing as it has been shown globally to be an effective tool in getting the offending polluters to reduce their emissions.
We must adopt science-based emissions reduction targets eliminating fossil fuel subsidies immediately and getting Canada powered by net carbon-free electricity by 2030.
The NDP will create 300000 new jobs building the clean energy future in the next four years with access to training and education and support for workers families and communities so that they aren’t left behind in the changing economy. We will boost clean tech research and manufacturing with Buy Canadian procurement helping communities reduce emissions and keep jobs here in Canada.
We will make public transit cleaner more convenient and even free by working with municipalities. We want to build more zero emissions vehicles here at home.
We will amend the National Building Code to make all new buildings in Canada net-zero ready by 2030 and complete energy efficient retrofits on all existing housing stock by 2050. This will save most homeowners $900 or more a year on home energy costs.
You don’t have to choose between the environment and the economy. You just have to choose how you get there so both can be cared for.
The Green Party does support a carbon fee on carbon dioxide pollutions. A Green government would return all revenue to Canadians as a dividend. Although carbon pricing has been one of the most discussed policies on how to combat climate change it is not what we should be basing our climate change plans on. Climate change must be addressed in all aspects and all policies should be viewed through an environmental lens.
Firstly a federal plan must meet the Paris targets. The Green Party has put forward the most aggressive targets of a 60 per cent reduction in emissions below 2005 levels by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050. Secondly we must move away from fossil fuels. The fossil fuel industry in Canada contributes to the most emissions and the best way of hitting our targets is transitioning to a green economy. We simply cannot afford any new infrastructure connected to fossil fuels including the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
The Green Party’s Mission Possible is a comprehensive 20 point plan which addresses all aspects of our society and how we can make each sector more sustainable. These sectors include energy buildings transportation agriculture and infrastructure to adapt to
climate change. This must be a collaborative approach. All parties must be at the table. Partisan politics has thwarted strong environmental policy for too long and in order for us to meet our targets and mitigate the impacts of climate change we must all work together.
The People’s Party rejects climate change alarmism and will focus on concrete improvements to the environment.
Climate change alarmism is based on flawed models that have consistently failed to correctly predict the future. None of the cataclysmic predictions that have been made about the climate have come true. No steady warming in direct relation with increases in CO2 levels. No disappearance of polar ice caps. No exceptional rise in ocean levels. No abnormal increase in catastrophic weather events. No widespread crop failure and famine.
In fact CO2 is beneficial for agriculture and there has recently been a measurable “greening” of the world in part thanks to higher levels. CO2 is not a pollutant. It is an essential ingredient for life on Earth and needed for plant growth.
Given the uncertainties over the scientific basis of global warming and the certainties about the huge costs of measures designed to fight it there is no compelling reason to jeopardize our prosperity with more government interventions. A People’s Party government will: withdraw from the Paris Accord and abandon unrealistic greenhouse gas emission reduction target; stop sending billions of dollars to developing countries to help them reduce their emissions; abolish the Liberal government’s carbon tax; abolish subsidies for green technology and let private players develop profitable and efficient alternatives; invest in adaptation strategies if problems arise as a result of any natural climate change; and prioritize practical solutions for cleaner air water and soil cleaner including bringing clean drinking water to remote First Nations communities.
3. Economic development and youth retention are major hurdles in the still largely seasonal economy of Haliburton County. How are these problems best addressed?
Jobs are created when the conditions for private sector growth enable success. That means taxes need to be kept low and rules regulations and red tape must be reduced to a more reasonable level. Access to reliable high-speed internet and cellular service must be a priority because without access to internet many businesses outside of urban centres will be challenged to provide comparable experiences for their customers. I also believe that our workforce must be empowered to do more to meet demand especially in the skilled trades.
We already know that Haliburton County has an amazing quality of life but without some of the most basic services (internet ability to make a living labour pool to match need) attracting youth or sparking economic activity will continually become more difficult.
With the major infrastructure investments provided by the Liberal government there will be more highly skilled jobs available in our region to keep youth in our communities to support: New housing developments; municipal infrastructure programs; retrofitting projects to move to a greener community; tourism infrastructure programs; environmental research projects; conservation programs for our lands and waterways; clean water research and initiatives and new zero-emission construction projects.
With both Trent University and Sir Sandford Fleming College nearby our community youth have immense opportunities to access and leverage their leading programs in environment science natural resource management and skilled trades to take advantage of the job growth that will come with a greener economy. And they will be enabled by increased student grants better student loans repayment options and $10000 investments in new apprenticeship opportunities.
Climate action projects can be a game changer for our communities and our youth – bringing leading edge career opportunities that will renew and rejuvenate our local economy.
The Liberal and Conservatives both love to say that they care about Canadian jobs but yet they refuse to intervene in markets that have created the job situation there is today. Ones with less benefits precarious or contract labour and the removal of health and safety standards that protect our workers. This has created stagnant wages growing inequality and slow growth.
We need to create good domestic jobs right here improving working conditions so that our youth want to work in high skilled trades and apprenticeship programs. Prioritizing Canadian procurement for infrastructure projects investing in green industries and tech sectors creating 300000 new jobs in those industries means that we need high skilled workers to fill those positions. We also know that we will face a higher need for medical staffing PSW’s nurses doctors and healthcare personnel due to our aging population. Encouraging provinces to adapt their high school curriculums may be one way for our youth to develop a passion in these sectors.
In order to give everyone a fair shot in opportunity and security we need affordable housing universal child care and student debt cancellation to do this.
There are several ways in which these challenges can be addressed. Firstly we need to make sure that post secondary education is more affordable for young people. High skilled trades and jobs such as personal support workers are in high demand in this riding. By eliminating post secondary tuition we can make sure students leave their education debt free and can enter well paying secure jobs immediately. This program has been fully costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office; it is possible to provide academic debt relief to Canadians.
It is also important to look at industries that students are interested in. As a student in university I know that many young people are aware of the crisis facing our environment and are interested in careers based in mitigating said crisis. Ridings such as ours have huge opportunity for innovating and job creation in this area. Transitioning to a green economy and encouraging more green industries which are new and exciting will encourage more young people with the necessary skills to move to areas such as ours. Finally governments at all levels – municipal provincial and federal – need to work together to design and implement programs that encourage young people to become more involved in their communities and encourage them to discover the benefits of living in rural areas such as Haliburton. We live in such a beautiful region with so much to offer its residents and it is important that those opportunities are passed along to more young people.
A People’s Party government will create a welcoming strategy of common sense economic legislative and regulatory policies to improve economic
development and youth retention for our rural communities. It will take the ability to think like a business executive in order to address both issues.
I bring a unique perspective and knowledge to this topic. It is based on 35 years employed as a professional recruiter in the IT sector during which I interviewed over 10000 job candidates. It includes a strong background in economics which is essential to consider the assets of Haliburton County that can attract economic contributors – both businesses and talent.
Urban centres have benefited from modern communications and internet technologies which made work-from-home possible for many knowledge workers like IT professionals. Rural centres are playing catch-up in the required infrastructure investments. Once these are reliably in place lets reach out to those who are trapped in Toronto’s high cost of housing commuting and living costs and show them the “Haliburton alternative.”
In 2016 I moved to Fenelon Falls after working in the GTA since 1975. I have had the personal experience of moving from the “GTA rat race” to the beauty tranquility and friendliness of life in rural Ontario and the sales skills to promote these advantages. While the Haliburton tourist industry is important I can help to create a well-planned and executed economic diversification strategy which will focus on attracting new year-round employers to stimulate economic development and aid youth retention.
4. How do you help Canadians with the burden of the ever-increasing cost of living?
I have knocked on thousands of doors in just the last few weeks and this issue is the same as I have been hearing since 2015. In fact almost half of all Canadian households report being less than $200 a month away from insolvency at month’s end. So in order to put more money back in your pockets the Conservative Party has committed to:
– Taking GST off home heating bills
– Scrapping the Carbon Tax
– Making parental benefits tax-free
– Lowering personal taxes
– Increasing the Age Credit by $1000
– Implementing a Children’s Fitness Tax Credit and a Children’s Arts and Learning Tax Credit
The Liberal government has already addressed the cost of living in current initiatives that lowered taxes for the middle class introduced the Child Care Benefit and improved incomes for seniors and veterans.
When re-elected our platform will add to this success with a national guaranteed wage of $15 per hour; no taxes on your first $15000 of income; lower energy bills from retrofitting homes; making it more affordable to use zero emission vehicles and transportation; making more clean and affordable power available in every Canadian community; providing affordable legal aid to those affected by sexual violence; providing affordable housing units for veterans; opening up CBC’s technology to provide affordable options for access to local news with local journalists and newsmakers; providing more affordable and accessible child care; increasing grants for students and improving loan repayment options; building more affordable housing for the disadvantaged and seniors; investing in accessible homes for veterans; providing grants for new net-zero-emission homes and new home buyers; improving options for parental leave with better subsidies and lower taxes; and increasing OAS by 10 per cent at age 75 and increasing CPP survivor benefits by 25 per cent.
The NDP is all about taking care of individuals and families in the core stabilities of health care education housing equality and social justice as well as taking care of our environment.
We will bring in universal pharmacare so that you can get your prescriptions with your health card instead of your debit card. This will save people more than $500 per year and save Canada $4.2 billion a year because of group buying of pharmaceuticals and reduced health care costs. We will add universal dental saving families an average of $1500 per year. Vision and hearing care will follow along with improved mental health services. We believe that health care should cover you from head to toe.
We will encourage post-secondary education and retraining with free tuition and immediately cancelling interest on student loans.
Our housing programs will see an end to homelessness in a decade with 500000 new units putting shovels in the ground in the first year and offering up to $5000 in rent supports for those that need it. Thirty year mortgages and doubling the First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit will help people move from expensive rental markets into their own homes.
Improving pensions for our seniors a universal basic income increase in the minimum wage gender pay equality and universal child care will help all Canadians with affordability and improved standard of living.
The NDP will not be raising your taxes. We will be closing tax loopholes for the rich and eliminating tax evasion schemes. There will be no more billion dollar handouts for wealthy oil and gas corporations. We will implement a wealth tax on those that have over $20 million and a foreign speculator tax of 15 per cent to pay for our housing programs and cut down on illegal money laundering that drives up housing prices.
This is one of the most common concerns expressed not only in our riding but all over Canada. There are so many connected aspects for cost of living and many reasons why more and more Canadians are finding it harder to make ends meet. The best program a government can implement to lift Canadians out of poverty and help them afford basic necessities is a Guaranteed Livable Income. The Green Party is the only party that has committed to immediately working towards implementing the GLI and working with municipalities and provincial governments to do so. This program has been tested in areas all over Canada including communities in our riding and it works. The GLI implemented by a Green government would provide a payment to all Canadians unique to their region and livable wage. Addressing the housing crisis healthcare education and food insecurity are other ways in which we can help make life more affordable.
We can implement universal pharmacare with a focus on primary care and prevention. This would include dental coverage for low income more
affordable prescriptions and an increased emphasis on mental health and addictions. Focusing on preventative medicine will not only save Canadians money but will save the government money as well. Lifting people out of poverty and giving them reliable income will address root causes of affordability for all Canadians.
A People’s Party Government would streamline government services to reduce the largest contributor to ever-rising cost of living – taxes. The operating expenses of our public institutions must be contained within the size and scope that Canadians households and businesses can afford.
Tax Inflation since 1961 has been 40 per cent. This is the direct result of excessive government expansion. More money should remain with every wage-earner retirement investor and business owner for their needs and priorities not with government officials who’s priorities differ and are often political in nature.
Consider the price of gasoline as one of the many rising costs. Five sources of tax add a minimum of $0.33 to every litre you buy at the pumps. When every product that you buy from a retail store has been transported there by trucks these taxes are also imbedded in the prices you pay at checkout.
A local antiques merchant pointed to a 106 year old chair to which sales taxes apply as they do for used vehicles. He understood tax on new products but why repeated taxes on used ones?
Our tax system must serve our Canadians citizens and businesses – not the runaway costs of governments that are unable to control their spending problems. The People’s Party will use common sense and restore respect to all taxpayers by applying its four core principles to this issue: Personal Freedom Individual Responsibility Fairness and Mutual Respect.
5. Both former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have been criticized for harbouring too much power in the Prime Minister’s Office and accused of abusing that power. What is required to bring more accountability to the PMO?
I think that most political historians would agree that the gradual consolidation of power inside the PMO began under Pierre Elliot Trudeau and continued throughout the decades to probably the tightest control in our history under Justin Trudeau. Stephen Harper worked to make the federal government more accountable with the Federal Accountability Act of 2006 which provided conflict of interest rules restrictions on election financing and measures respecting administrative transparency oversight and accountability.
One measure we can take is to overhaul our committee structure modelling it to something like the UK where committees work more in a collaborative approach. This usually results in more meaningful solutions to problems – not just creating reports that nobody reads.
I think the ultimate form of accountability that Canadians have will be the upcoming election. Canadians can choose between a prime minister who abuses his power bends the law for his friends attempts to silence his critics and destroys their reputations. Or they can choose a Conservative government led by a prime minister who will uphold the rule of law respect our democratic institutions and help all Canadians get ahead.
After the harnessing of information in the PMO as created by Stephen Harper the Liberal government opened doors to ministers for the press and lobbyists to have direct conversations in line with the rule of the cabinet.
The Liberal Party has also given people a greater voice in Parliament by improving the way that Parliament works. In the last four years the changes the Liberals have brought to Parliament – from Senate reform to more free votes to regular Prime Minister’s Question Periods – have made Parliament more effective and more accountable to Canadians. But there is still more work to do.
To ensure that Parliament better reflects the people it serves we will move forward with additional reforms including: allocating more time for private members’ business to be debated and voted on in Parliament; working with Parliament to introduce new technology or other institutional changes to better connect members with their constituents; eliminating the use of whip and party lists to give the speaker greater freedom in calling on members who wish to speak; and providing more resources to parliamentary committees so that they have the staff and research they need to deliver meaningful policy recommendations.
We will also continue to move forward with the new non-partisan and merit-based Senate appointment process and will update the Parliament of Canada Act to reflect the Senate’s new non-partisan role. Each of these measures provide more opportunities to improve accountability and transparency to Canadians from the PMO and across Parliament.
We can clean up politics and restore people’s trust in government. Ethical and transparent government is about more than talking points – it’s about making sure that Canadians can have faith that their government is acting in their interests not in the interests solely of the rich well-connected insiders. Ethical government is essential for a healthy democracy and when people lose that we all suffer.
We will take immediate steps to take the influence of big money out of government for good bringing in tougher penalties in the Conflict of Interest Act to ensure that abuse of public trust is treated seriously. Currently the government only needs to report the number of times they meet with lobbyists but they don’t have to report the amount of money being spent or values received.
We will work with provinces to abolish the Senate and in the meantime an NDP government will insist the Senate change it’s rules so that unelected Senators can’t hold up legislation for months when it has already been adopted by the Members of Parliament.
We will introduce an ethical and social environmental screen on government procurement so that Canadians can be confident that their tax dollars are not going to pay for bribes in foreign countries or pollution that we’ll all have to pay to clean up later.
And finally after Justin Trudeau’s broken promises of election reform the NDP government will adopt mixed-member proportional representation for the 2023 election ensuring that every vote counts the way it should.
Our government needs to be more transparent. It is the responsibility of the government to work for its citizens not for corporations. As an individual I strongly believe in accountability and transparency as a leader and for those who lead me. The Green Party advocates for honest ethical and caring leadership and there are several ways in which a Green government would introduce more integrity into our government. We can strengthen the role and protect the independence of parliamentary officers such as the Ombudsman the Auditor General the Ethics Commissioner and the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
It is important that these officers are allowed to perform their mandates without political influence. We can strengthen the Conflict of Interest Act and the Lobbying Act to ensure that external groups are not selfishly influencing political activities. We can increase transparency by expanding the Access the Information Act and ensuring that the administration of parliament the Prime Minister’s Office and the minister’s offices are within the scope of the ATI. Canadians deserve to know that their government is working in their best interests. It is a big responsibility to take care of Canadians and it must be done with honestly integrity and care at its core.
A People’s Party government will execute faithfully on its elected political platform which has been inspired by four principles: Personal Freedom Individual Responsibility Fairness and Mutual Respect.
While principles matter and can be used to judge any alleged abuse of PMO power ‘justice’ is too easily influenced by individual subjectivity crafty politics and further abuse of the powers of that office to sidestep legitimate accountability. The SNC Lavalin scandal has been a demonstration of this reality.
Some people say that electoral reform may help. Others prefer recall legislation. In the USA impeachment laws exist that we lack. I personally admire the decentralized structures of government in Switzerland that restricts federal powers to a limited portfolio of responsibilities and relies on 26 cantons to provide a form of direct democracy to its residents. My thinking goes as follows.
Canada is vast home to 37 million citizens and the most multi-ethnic and multicultural nation on the planet. We elect one prime minister for all 37 million citizens who each possess a highly unique life lens.
We also elect one member of Parliament to represent 100000 residents in each of 338 federal electoral ridings. Each MP is their riding spokesperson in Parliament who must compete with the other 337 MPs for a “voice at the table” to negotiate whatever monies or legislative advantages that they can extract for their constituents. This top down command and control structure can’t possibly satisfy all 37 million uniquely individual Canadians as well as a decentralized model.