Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte All Candidates Debate
The Barrie-Springwater-Oro Medonte All Candidates Debate on October 10, 2019, hosted by the Greater Barrie Chamber of Commerce, Simcoe County Home Builders Association and the Barrie & District Association of REALTORS® (BDAR), focused on affordable housing, small businesses, marijuana legalization, the opioid crisis, and the economy.
Candidates in attendance were:
David Patterson – People’s Party
Doug Shipley - Conservative
Marty Lancaster - Green
BDAR Member Fleurette Knaggs was on the panel and asked candidates the following question.
“One way we measure community prosperity is through housing. There is a shortage of affordable housing in our region – and across Canada. How do you propose to increase the supply of affordable housing in our market?”
Shipley noted that there is an affordability issue that is largely based on supply – more houses need to be built, and the Conservatives are looking into Crown land for spaces.
The NDP platform has a focus on building 500,000 affordable housing units in 10 years, social and coop housing, as well as a rental subsidy plan for people who spend over 30 % of their income on rent, Janssen said.
Kalliecharan said homes help Canadians prosper. He noted that foreign investors buy investment properties, and these are often left vacant. The Liberals would put a tax on foreign investors to help increase availability and affordability of homes to Canadians.
The Green Party believes housing is a fundamental right, Lancaster said, noting that when developments are put up in the region, 20 % of these should be allocated as affordable units. He noted that more needs to be done to ensure these targets are being met.
Patterson noted that supply and demand need to be spoken about together. He said that demand for housing will largely be addressed by limiting immigration, which is currently causing pressure on housing prices and overburdening the social support systems.
Regarding the region’s opioid crisis, all parties agreed that compassion is key and that the issue is a health care concern.
“It’s a serious issue and we need a different approach, ” Shipley noted, adding that there need to be more wraparound services offered. He added that it’s a complex issue which will require all levels of government to look at it.
“It’s all over the city,” Lancaster said. “We have empathy here, we take care of them here…We need to criminalize the chemical, not the people.”
Janssen noted that it’s important to listen to the experts regarding the opioid crisis and take their lead. He added that it’s a human issue, and it needs to be handled with care and compassion. Patterson agreed that empathy and caring needs to be employed with this issue.
Kalliecharan said that the issue needs to be dealt with at the source and illegal drugs need to be intercepted before they get on the streets. He added that increased mental health funding and support for save consumption sites were required to properly address this issue.
An audience question focused on how expensive the region is becoming for young families, which all candidates agreed upon.
“The Liberals are helping our young families raise their children with the Canadian Child Benefit,” Kalliecharan said. This, he noted, can help lift families out of poverty.
Lancaster noted that living wages need to be addressed in order to help young people advance. He also said that the Green Party would offer to fund for tuition would allow for more young people to get their post-secondary education.
Shipley said that the Conservatives would end the carbon tax, have no GST on home heating, and make maternity leave tax free among other initiatives.
Patterson said the People’s Party would look to cut expenses for all Canadians, citing cell phone plans as one area that needs to be addressed.
The NDP believes money should stay in young people’s pockets with universal childcare, healthcare, and the rental subsidy, Janssen said.
The red tape and bureaucracy in business, specifically small businesses, was raised as an issue. Shipley noted that Conservatives support economic support and would champion Canadian small businesses to the world. He added that his party would reduce federal regulations on businesses and assign a minister to investigate reducing red tape.
The Liberals are reducing small business taxes from 11% to 9%, Kalliecharan said. His party would also cut corporation fees by 75%.
Janssen took a different view stating that many times the red tape is in place to protect workers, people, and the environment. He said the NDP would always look out for businesses and would look for ways to help the small businesses thrive. This includes maintaining the small business tax rate and cutting merchant fees so they are at a level that is reasonable for small businesses.
The Green Party will focus on green energy to help grow small businesses, Lancaster said.
“The Green Party is creating a fund that will help any small business that wants to improve their efficiency,” he said. He added that any small business looking to reduce their fossil fuel consumption would benefit from that fund.
Patterson said that his party would eliminate the capital gains tax encourage investments.
Other topics covered at the debate included climate change, trade and foreign investments, and international relations.
Election day is October 21, 2019 – have your voice heard, get out and vote!