Candidates weigh in on childcare, jobs and housing
Each of the candidates was asked by the paper to answer three policy questions with direct impact on the Highlands last week. Here are their answers.
1. What conditions are needed to attract jobs to the Haliburton Highlands specifically and what can the federal government – and you as MP – do to make that happen?
Jamie Schmale, Conservative:
Tourism is one of the main drivers of the economy in Haliburton. We’re investing $3 million a year in rural tourism to bring U.S. anglers, hunters and snowmobilers to Canada. We’ve invested in tourism through programs like the Canada 150th Fund that improved Rotary Beach Park and the S.G Memorial Arena in Minden.
The Conservative government invested $1.1 million in the Haliburton Streetscape Project. We’re putting $200 million more into high-speed Internet in Eastern Ontario to address the gaps that still exist. We’ve spent almost $600,000 to repair and upgrade recreational trails across the federal riding. And we’ve targeted $90 million for the Trent-Severn Waterway, and $61,000 in arts programs since 2008 in Haliburton County. Those are direct investments that promote tourism. It is time to put Haliburton on the Canadian Signature Experience (CSE) map. Part of Destination Canada, the CSE showcases 163 unique, authentic, once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences from across the country, helping businesses promote their products internationally. If elected, I plan on using my 11 years of experience to keep lines of communication open between the federal government, the province, and local stakeholders to ensure Haliburton is properly recognized and promoted.
Beyond tourism, we are creating jobs by lowering business taxes and removing red tape. We’re cutting payroll taxes by 20 per cent. The Small Business Job Credit has reduced EI payroll costs by 15 per cent since Jan. 1, 2015 resulting in big savings for Canadians and we will cut EI rates again from $1.88/$100 to $1.49/$100. We will freeze CPP rates, and lock taxes (Tax Lock Law) over four years. All of this means workers will have more take home pay. It also means that small businesses can invest in current employees and hire more. Ninety-nine per cent of Canadian business is small business which employs 70 per cent of private sector workers. The Conservative government’s world-leading Economic Action Plan is focused on jobs and growth with a low-tax, pro-trade agenda. We’ve invested in skills-training, apprenticeships, and infrastructure to help small and medium-sized business owners. We will drop the tax rate AGAIN from 11 per cent to nine per cent. This is the largest tax cut for small business in 25 years. That’s $2.7 billion in tax relief to 700,000 small businesses. We have increased the Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit from $2,000 to $2,500 and extended it to four years.
This will help more aspiring trades people to complete their studies and move into solid, high-paying jobs. The free trade agreements we have made with 39 countries open the door for Canadian exports worldwide. It is estimated that one in five jobs in Canada are thanks to exports in the global marketplace.
Bill MacCallum, Green
Since 2000, our corporate tax rate has decreased from 29.1 per cent to 15 per cent; half of the American rate. Where are the jobs in Haliburton that the Conservatives promised as a result of these tax breaks for foreign multi-national corporations?
The real engine of our economy both locally and nationally in the 21st century is small business. A Green government would provide more small business loans and entrepreneurial incentives while eliminating duplicate tax filings and red tape, allowing Haliburton’s small businesses to grow and create employment. We would boost access to apprentice programs in the trades. I would work directly with Industry Canada and public-private partnerships to encourage more local value-added manufacturing, including wood products that would benefit from a greater focus on timber quality.
A Green government would increase funding to the arts. We would change the Canada Revenue Act to allow arts workers to benefit from a tax averaging plan, enabling a more consistent annual income, thereby increasing local sustainable jobs.
The Harper government stopped marketing Canada as a tourist destination to Americans a few years ago. A Green government would re-invest in tourism, fostering and marketing the sustainable tourism industry on which so many of Haliburton’s businesses depend.
David Marquis, Liberal
There is no magic formula that will create jobs but there are things the federal government can do to support job growth. A Liberal government will help small and medium sized businesses grow by helping them secure funding, innovate, and by creating an environment that reduces barriers to their success.
One of the cornerstones of our platform is the Infrastructure Investment Plan, the largest federal investment in community infrastructure in Canadian history. Investing in our local infrastructure, such as dams, bridges and housing, will not only create immediate jobs but will help improve productivity and reduce costs for business over the medium to long term.
A Liberal government will reduce EI premiums from $2.63 to $2.31 and follow through on Budget 2015’s reduction of the small business tax rate to nine per cent. I also believe we need to target investment for rural development into better Internet access for home based businesses and we need a better business partner in Canada Post to get our goods to market.
As your MP, I would work with local councils and interest groups to facilitate business development and then sell the merits of those projects in Ottawa.
Mike Perry, NDP
I am proud to be our only candidate to have developed a local, good jobs strategy for our area in consultation with people from across our riding. We need to play to our natural strengths. Our area lends itself to small business, including tourism and the arts economy.
Specifically, the NDP will cut small business taxes by two per cent and help reduce their “swipe” fees on credit card sales. I will also work to increase broadband access to help people work from home.
I also want to get federal funds to enhance training centres across the riding to reduce training costs for small businesses, top up our workforce to attract companies, and keep our young people in the area. We can also improve access to financial assistance for local businesses including by changing financial rules so people can put money in local community chests as RRSP contributions to increase the availability of local capital, especially for start-ups and young peoples’ businesses.
As our new Member of Parliament, I will partner directly with our Chambers of Commerce and lead “job missions” to help recruit new manufacturing companies to the riding. To read my local jobs strategy visit my website: www.mikeperry.ca.
2. The Haliburton Highlands lacks housing of all types, but particularly affordable housing. What would your solution to this issue be and what role as MP would you play in solving it?
Jamie Schmale, Conservative
The provincial government distributes federal transfer payments to the province based on a population formula. Since 2008, the Conservative government has delivered $6,574,912 to Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock under the Affordable Housing program.
I will fight to keep this money coming for affordable housing. We’re spending $30 million per year to increase the maximum withdrawal under the First-Time Home Buyers’ Plan from $25,000 to $35,000 so first time home buyers can withdraw savings tax-free to buy or build their first home. We’re also investing $1.48 billion per year on a new, permanent Home Renovation Tax Credit for home renovation expenses between $1,000 and $5,000. On top of these measures, the Conservative government is keeping taxes low for all Canadians so that they have more take-home pay each and every pay cheque.
Bill MacCallum, Green
The Green Party believes it is the right of every Canadian to have affordable, safe, and secure housing. It is an essential prerequisite to an equitable society. The Green Party supports the delivery of social housing dollars to provincial and municipal governments through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), but the funding for social housing needs to be dramatically increased. CMHC programs must be directed to the communities most in need, and fast-tracked to provide homes for people at risk. I would fight hard for communities in Haliburton to be included among the most in need.
The Green Party would appoint a Minister for Housing to oversee development and implementation of a National Affordable Housing Plan. It would include an annual rate of building affordable housing so that lack of access is no longer a factor in homelessness by 2019. I would ensure that an adequate supply of new subsidized affordable homes is built here. We would change the Income Tax Act to offer tax cuts for affordable housing. We would provide credit and loan guarantees to non-profit housing organizations and cooperatives for the building and restoration of quality, energy-efficient housing for seniors, people with special needs, and low-income families.
David Marquis, Liberal
This is a problem all over our riding, not just in Haliburton. We need so support investors who want to build affordable housing and rental units. A Liberal government will renew the federal government’s role in housing. We will provide predictable, sustained new funding for affordable housing and implement collaborative planning between all levels of government.
Our infrastructure plan includes spending targeted at social infrastructure in the amount of $6 billion over the next four years. This investment will renew federal leadership in affordable housing, helping to: build more housing units, refurbish existing ones, renew existing co-operative agreements, and provide operational funding support for municipalities.
We know affordable housing is a possible solution to many of our society’s challenges. Child poverty, struggling veterans, high student debt, and the precarious lives of people experiencing mental and addiction issues are all addressed with better housing so this will be a priority for me and for my party.
Mike Perry, NDP
I have worked on affordable housing in the county as a member of the Kawartha-Haliburton Poverty Reduction Group. I know that the cost of homes in Haliburton has risen more that 85 per cent over the last 10 years.
The NDP introduced a motion in Parliament to make the government develop a national housing strategy, but the current government defeated the motion. After years of neglect, the NDP will make housing a federal priority and provide new funding from its costed platform. Housing should be affordable for everyone, including people of lower income, seniors and people with disabilities. Homelessness costs our economy $12 billion per year so funding affordable housing is not just a social issue but an economic investment.
As our new Member of Parliament, it will be my job to work tirelessly with the county and local community partners such as Places for People, SIRCH, Community Living, CARP Haliburton and the Haliburton YWCA to ensure we get our share of the funding for more affordable housing here in our area.
3. Give a concise description of what your party is proposing for childcare.
Jamie Schmale, Conservative
The Conservative Party thinks that one size does not fit all. Universal bureaucratic daycare ignores the preferences of individual families. Childcare decisions are best left in the hands of the real experts, mom and dad. That’s why we’ve put more money in the hands of parents who make the best choices about their children’s care. We increased the monthly Universal Child Care Benefit from $100 to $160 for kids under six, and expanded it to include kids six to 17 at $60 a month. We introduced family income splitting to help families who choose to stay home with their kids, as well as those who use childcare.
Bill MacCallum, Green
Canadians want a childcare program with flexibility. The current cheque for $160/month does not begin to address these needs.
The Greens are committed to a high-quality federally funded childcare program in Canada, accessible to any family that wants to place children into early childhood education. We would restore and revamp the 2005 agreement reached between the federal government, provinces, and territories, that was never implemented. We would create a national Children’s Commissioner, as recommended by UNICEF, to ensure children’s best interests are considered in policy development and that services across the country are better coordinated.
We would specifically ensure that Canada’s childcare program provides workplace childcare spaces wherever possible. Workplace childcare has been shown to improve productivity, decrease employee absenteeism, ensure quality care for children (because parents can “drop in” at any time to see their young children), and permits longer breast-feeding of infants. The Green Party would accelerate the creation of workplace childcare spaces through a direct tax credit to employers (or groups of employers in small businesses) of $1,500 tax credit/child per year.
David Marquis, Liberal
Liberal government will provide support for Canadian families by putting more money in the pockets of the families who need it most; providing high-quality, affordable, accessible, inclusive childcare spaces; and offering greater flexibility for working parents.
Within the first 100 days of being elected, a Liberal government will initiate ministerial meetings with provinces, territories, and indigenous peoples to create a new National Early Learning and Child Care Framework. This plan will be administered as part of our new social infrastructure investment of nearly $20 billion over the next 10 years, and achieved in collaboration with – and in respect of – provincial jurisdiction.
Our framework will build on the progress that provinces and territories have made in the absence of federal leadership and allow them to move further in providing more affordable, accessible, inclusive, high-quality childcare and early learning, which considers the diverse needs of all children in Canada.
Mike Perry, NDP
The NDP will keep the current Universal Child Care Benefit and implement a national childcare program. Parents will pay $15 per day and the government will pay the remainder of the cost to each provider. This plan has been fully costed in our election platform. Economists agree that every $1 invested in a national childcare program doubles in economic growth. This would reduce costs to families from $2,000 monthly in some cases to $300 per month every time. The NDP plan is not taxable and will create new childcare spaces and jobs with increased demand as more parents can afford childcare.
This plan will also get women who so choose back into the workforce with jobs and taxable incomes to help fund our social programs. A friend of mine recently did not return to work after her second child. Given the cost of childcare, she would be making $4 per hour. The lack of affordable childcare took her out of the workforce and put their family of four on one income: her husband’s.
The Conservatives and Liberals have both pledged national childcare programs in the past but have not delivered. The NDP will come through. Working with the poverty reduction group here in the county, people have said that affordable, accessible childcare is one of the best ways to help them get a job.