Niagara Falls riding candidates were asked four questions, regarding specific plans for pandemic recovery, especially for tourism and hospitality industries; federal vaccination passports; priorities for improving health care; and climate change action. These are their answers:
Tony Baldinelli, Conservative party
On pandemic recovery: To get our residents back to work, we need to focus on hardest hit sectors, such as tourism and hospitality. Once the Canada Emergency Wage subsidy (CEWS) ends in October, Canada’s Conservatives will introduce the Canada Job Surge Plan to get people back to work. A Conservative government will pay at least 25 per cent of the salary of net new hires for six months after CEWS expires. To help those who have been unemployed long-term, our plan will cover up to 50 per cent of the salary for those who have been unemployed for 6 months or more. The salary maximum will be the same as CEWS.
Sectors such as our grape and wine industry need clarity and certainty, which has been missing since the government’s loss of the excise exemption on 100 per cent Canadian made-wine. Promises of two years of funding have been made, yet I am hearing the first year’s commitment is inadequate to meet the needs of the sector. We also need a trade compliant replacement support program to the excise exemption.
On vaccination passports: Our position with respect to vaccines is a balanced one. Ultimately, Canadians have the right to make their own health choices. Vaccines are a safe and effective tool to stop the spread of COVID-19 and we encourage everyone who is able to, to get one. For those not vaccinated, rapid testing is needed to help protect our most vulnerable.
A Conservative government will require federal public servants who aren’t vaccinated to pass a daily rapid test. Within our federally regulated sectors, we will require unvaccinated Canadian passengers to present a recent negative test result or pass a rapid test before getting on a train, plane, or ship.
Our party supports a streamlined system that helps Canadians verify their vaccine status when travelling abroad. It is up to foreign governments to establish their own vaccination rules for travellers. In terms of provincial rules, we will respect the right of provincial governments to implement and manage their own public health guidelines.
Health care priorities: My wife and I personally know the importance of our healthcare system, as my son was born prematurely, and spent 138 days in hospital, following his birth at only 25 weeks. I can assure you Canada’s Conservatives are 100 per cent committed to the principle of universal healthcare access. That’s why Canada’s Recovery Plan includes increases to provincial healthcare funding. In fact, under our plan, we will inject $60 billion into our healthcare system over the next ten years. That is a six per cent increase per year, while the Liberals are only increasing them by three per cent. Also, the 2021 federal Liberal budget contained more than $100 billion in new spending, but there was no increase in health transfers, at all.
A central pillar of our five-point recovery plan also focuses on securing mental health, through the creation of a Canadian Mental Health Action Plan. We will address the mental health crisis by recognizing that mental health is health and making historic investments to help those in need.
On the high cost of housing: Housing affordability must be restored! Our younger generation must be able to have a fair opportunity to realize the dream of home ownership. We are not building enough homes to keep up with Canada’s growing population. This is a big part of why homes are getting harder and harder for Canadians to afford. To increase supply, our plan calls for 1 million homes to be built in the next three years. To do so we will release 15 per cent of the 37,000 buildings/real estate owned by the federal government for new homes to be built. We will leverage future infrastructure investments to build more homes near publicly funded transit. We will provide more Canadians with a path to homeownership by making it easier for families to get a mortgage. We will work to ban foreign investors from buying homes if they are not planning to move to Canada. We will also address the soaring cost of renting a home by partnering with municipalities and the private sector to bring new rental units into the market.
On climate change: Canada’s Conservatives have a serious plan to combat climate change that allows us to meet our targets and reduce our emissions by 2030. In fact, Michael Bernstein, executive director of Clean Prosperity, called the plan “a credible path to meeting Canada’s 2030 Paris target.”
Within our proposed climate change plan, a Conservative government would scrap the federal carbon tax and work with the provinces to implement an innovative personal low Carbon Savings Account. This would maintain a consumer price on carbon but, without one penny going to the government. Our plan commits to requiring that 15 per cent of the natural gas we use to fuel transit fleets, generate electricity, power industry, and heat homes and businesses be renewable by 2030.
The plan also seeks to work with the U.S., to set minimum North American standards for key industrial sectors. We will study border carbon tariffs to prevent leakage of emissions – and jobs – to countries with lower environmental and emissions standards. We will get more zero-emission vehicles on the road, develop markets for Canadian nuclear technology and natural gas, and rapidly accelerate the deployment of Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage, to ensure we meet our goals.
Brian Barker, NDP
On economic recovery: As we build back from the COVID crisis, our economic recovery cannot depend on creating gig jobs or low wage jobs. The platform we released details our plans to create more than a million good jobs in the first mandate by building back through a green recovery that takes on the climate crisis. This includes a job-creation plan that is paired with access to training and education for work in the low-carbon field and supports for those who need it in a changing economy. The NDP was clear that budget 2021 did not provide enough support for the tourism industry, which specifically requires support to make visitors feel safe and encourage them to come back to Niagara. Our plan calls for direct support to kick-start that sector of the economy and have them back on their feet, fully staffed and as safe as possible in our first months.
On vaccination passports: We support vaccination passport and certification systems as a way to finally put an end to this pandemic. The contagious nature of the Delta variant means we must take extra care to implement systems that respect the sacrifice Canadians have gone through to end this pandemic and to protect the most vulnerable; a vaccine certificate meets those criteria. The system proposed by Justin Trudeau will create various passport systems across the country with little cohesion, especially for those travelling between provinces. That system will be needlessly frustrating and confusing. We believe the federal government should propose a nationally unified passport system that covers the provinces and is as simple and easy as possible. The federal government must take the lead here and work with provinces to create as few barriers as possible to those who took the responsible step of getting vaccinated.
On health care: It’s time to end the decades-long cuts to our public system. Our healthcare system saves money when people get care early – which is why we’re going to expand coverage to include dental care, prescription drugs and mental healthcare. Too many critical services now fall outside of the universal coverage system and people are struggling to access the services that are covered. We’re going to ensure your health card gets you coverage, not your credit card. We’re also investing in attracting more nurses and doctors. We’ll partner with the provinces to tackle wait times and improve primary care access across the country. Seniors who need care in our system will see reduced wait-times and care that focuses on their health, not on profits that can be made on them, especially when it comes to healthcare in long-term care settings. It’s time to remove the stresses that are compounding on our universal system and rebuild it as a public system we’re all confident in.
On the high cost of housing: In February, the average home price in the town was $967,000, up from $470,141 in 2015. In Niagara Falls, the average rent for a one-bedroom was $1,500 this summer. At these prices our kids will never be able to grow up in the same communities that we raised them in, and it’s causing them to leave. Simply put, this system is not sustainable for those raising families here in Niagara. Too often this is being driven by big developers who don’t care about what happens to the communities they’re building in, destroying what we love about our communities. Our plan is comprehensive, but it begins by putting people to work building 500,000 affordable homes, lifting GST off home builds that meet affordability standards, creating a rental support fund in the immediate future and funding supports to help nonprofits buy properties to keep communities affordable. This crisis has gotten worse year after year, if we want different results we need to make different choices.
On climate change: Climate change is an issue parties and candidates list as a priority to them, and yet many voters are concerned that it won’t translate into action. What action would you take first to address climate change?
What we’re facing now is a climate emergency. Temperatures across Canada are smashing records, wildfires are raging uncontrolled and, in some cases, burning down entire cities. Smoke from those fires is literally blotting out the sun in cities hundreds of kilometres away. Unaddressed, the crisis will change the growing conditions rapidly here in Niagara-
on-the-Lake affecting farmers and growers. Our plan reduces emissions to 50% of 2005 levels by 2030 and is net-zero by 2050. We will hold the biggest polluters accountable and create a Climate Accountability Office to engage the public on achieving our goals and reviewing government policy with climate targets in mind. We will move to electrify public transit and shift subsidies from big oil to those in the clean and renewable energy sector. Above all, we will act on those goals with the emergency speed that is necessary to try and stop the damage that is being done every day.
Melanie Holm, Green Party
On economic recovery: The Green Party is committed to a just and green recovery, meaning no one is left behind, and the environment doesn’t suffer further degradation due to our recovery efforts. When the tourism sector suffers, that impacts the whole community. Many citizens in the region depend on this industry for their livelihood, so supporting a Guaranteed Livable Income would actually support the seasonality of these industries. If they can’t employ people year around, a GLI would support people during the offseason or shoulder seasons. I would also like to see further investment in ecotourism; I think we are positioned to be leaders in this area too with our organic wineries and agriculture, hiking, biking, fishing, etc.
On vaccination passports: We already have immunization records for our children, so I’m not sure where the outrage on vaccination passports comes from, or how this really differs. There are some people who are not vaccinated for valid reasons, so I feel we do need to stress that vaccination passports are a temporary measure in this situation that would be in place to protect both the unvaccinated and the wider community. I don’t know if a federal program is really the answer, but I do see how it would simplify things and enable continued travel between regions and provinces.
On health care: I will advocate for Pharmacare to be included as part of our public health care. The Green Party would like to see the formation of a crown corporation to bulk purchase and dispense prescription drugs and provide much needed coverage for the Canadians forced to pay out of pocket. We will treat drug addiction as a health issue, not a criminal issue, and support community-based programs for prevention and rehabilitation. Also, I believe mental health is a huge contributor to many problems we are facing as a society and I will work to provide more accessible support for mental health care.
On affordable housing: The Green Party is advocating for free tuition so when students finish school they are not faced with a huge debt, making it easier for them to save for a home. Housing is a right; everyone has a right to live with security, peace, and dignity. We need to create a National Housing Strategy that includes input from all levels of government and Indigenous communities. We need to invest in co-op and non-profit housing. We will create a task force to address the impact of the financialization of housing.
On climate change: The first thing I will do is take immediate action locally. I will work to protect our local wetlands. I will work with all levels of government to ensure that our remaining wetlands and a buffer around them are protected and I will ensure that they can not be developed. Our wetlands act as carbon sinks and when we fill them in, we release the trapped carbon into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change. In the Niagara Region it’s estimated that less than 10% of our wetlands are remaining. This is a very simple, yet extremely impactful action that we can take locally to slow climate change, not to mention to protect the biodiversity that exists in these areas. Once these existing lands are protected, I will work to begin restoring our wetlands that have been destroyed.
Andrea Kaiser, Liberal
On economic recovery: Our comprehensive economic recovery plan will create one million middle-class jobs by making strategic investments in sectors of comparative advantage. We have attracted global electric vehicle manufacturing mandates from General Motors and Ford which will help build a domestic supply chain for electric vehicles in Canada. Similarly, we have made investments to position Canada as a global leader in life sciences and bio-manufacturing, with Moderna and Sanofi both announcing substantial investments to support made in Canada solutions. Our Liberal plan includes specific programming for the tourism and hospitality sectors. We will extend the wage and rent subsidies until March 2022, and introduce the Tourism Relief Fund to support local tourism businesses in enhancing their products offerings to facilitate future growth. We will also invest $400 million to support cultural events like the Shaw Festival. Lastly, we will invest $100 million into Destination Canada to incentivize Canadians to explore our beautiful country.
On vaccination passports: They are the best tool we have at our disposal to end the pandemic and avoid further lockdowns. The Liberal Party supports the implementation of vaccination passports at both the federal and provincial levels. The federal government is responsible for international and interprovincial travel, as well as federal employees and federally regulated sectors. We will be implementing a comprehensive federal vaccine passport in these areas. The regulation of non-essential businesses, healthcare institutions, and schools is provincial, and a re-elected Liberal Government will provide up to $1 billion of funding to the provinces to implement vaccination passports. Quebec and B.C. have already implemented one and thanks to pressure and funding from our federal Liberal government, we expect Doug Ford to follow suit shortly. Unfortunately, Erin O’Toole and Tony Baldinelli oppose vaccine passports, which will bring about more lockdowns and put our community at risk.
On health care: The Liberal Party introduced universal publicly-funded healthcare under Prime Minister Pearson and has been a strong supporter of the system since. As a Liberal, I believe access to quality healthcare in Canada ought to be a right for all. A re-elected Liberal government will make significant investments in our public system to rapidly hire 7,500 more doctors and nurses, eliminate waitlists for surgeries, and overhaul our long-term care system. Overall, we will invest more than $10 billion to improve healthcare delivery. My priority is to ensure these investments come to Niagara-on-the-Lake so that we can enhance the quality of healthcare delivery right here in our community.
Erin O’Toole recently admitted that he supports privatizing elements of our healthcare to create a two-tier system. Under his system, you could pay $900 for each MRI and the ultra-rich will be able to pay to jump the line for essential surgeries.
On affordable housing: As a mother of two kids in their mid-20s, I know the anxiety young people are feeling about home ownership. No one should have to move far away from your job or your family just to afford a home. A re-elected Liberal government will immediately address the housing supply crisis by building 1.4 million new units in a sustainable and thoughtful manner, which is 40 per cent more than the Conservative plan. We will also ban blind bidding and ban foreign ownership to ensure Canadians have more access to affordable homes. Perhaps most significantly, we will introduce a $40,000 tax-free savings account that will help young families afford their down payment faster. These are a few of the many measures we will take to address the housing crisis across Canada. Heather Scoffield, economics columnist from the Toronto Star, recently wrote, “the Liberals are offering a much bolder plan than those of their rivals.”
On climate change: Unlike the Conservative Party, who recently voted to deny the existence of climate change, I am committed to fighting climate change and protecting our environment. A Liberal government will move forward with our strengthened climate plan that includes a bold and effective price on pollution, ban on single-use plastics, and mandate to ensure all vehicles sold in Canada by 2035 are electric. Our plan exceeds our Paris Climate Accord commitments and our goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
If elected, I will immediately take the following actions:
• Implement a Freshwater Action Plan to protect our Great Lakes and Niagara River from pollution associated with climate change.
• Draft regulations that require large oil and gas companies to reduce methane emissions by at least 75 per cent by 2030.
• Make zero emission vehicles more affordable extending consumer rebates of up to $5,000 and building 50,000 more charging stations across the country
Peter Taras, People’s Party of Canada
On economic recovery: End the lockdowns, immediately. Let individuals choose for themselves the risks they are willing to take. Open the borders, immediately, end mask mandates, allow freedom of choice for vaccinations and end mass testing which is only contributing to the mass hysteria. These steps will allow all businesses, including tourism and hospitality to flourish. The worldwide death rate in 2020 was 7.61 and in 2021 the worldwide death rate is 7.65 / 1000 people, according to the UN. The death rate is higher now that we have the vaccine, than when we only had the disease.
According to the freedom of information request, made by Adam Skelly for his constitutional challenge, he found that the number of ICU days in Ontario in 2020 was 8 per cent less than each of the previous five years, despite 2020 having a higher population than the previous five years.
Knowing what we know now, there should never have been any government intrusion into the lives of Canadians during the COVID crisis.
On vaccination passports: The PPC strongly opposes vaccination passports. Each individual has unique circumstances and each person should choose for themselves what is best for them. Orwell, in his dystopian novel 1984, referred to “group think” as the phenomenon, in which, ones thoughts and ideas affect the “group.” Free will and individual freedoms are subjugated to the common good. In the history of the world, these neo-communist ideas have never worked for the people, and they are not going to work now. Even if the vaccine is the best thing for a person they should be free to reject it. Alternatively, if the vaccine has risks, people should be free to take it.
A partial list of the reasons for my personal vaccine hesitancy are:
1. The corporations that developed these vaccines have complete indemnity from any lawsuits.
2. There is no informed consent.
3. Individuals are being coerced into taking these injections.
4. There are no long term human studies on the effects of these various injections.
Vaccinations are a matter between a physician and patient. The PPC also strongly advocates for freedom of conscience for health care professionals.
On health care: Health care is a provincial jurisdiction. The federal government provides transfer payments to the provinces to help pay for healthcare. These transfer payments, for healthcare, have ballooned to over $43 billion from $20 billion in 2006. Despite the enormous increase in the amount of money going to the provinces, our healthcare system has not improved. Why? One of the criteria for the provinces to receive more cash from the feds is longer wait times for patients. This is a terrible methodology to reward poorly-performing provincial health care systems. This rewards victimhood and perpetuates a dependency on the federal money, and it does nothing to improve health care for citizens.
The PPC would phase out the transfer payments to the provinces while empowering them to collect the GST portion of the HST.
On affordable housing: Our unsustainable immigration is a major contributor to a lack of affordable housing, but also for seeing runaway housing prices. The PPC wants to put Canada First when it comes to immigration. We would advocate for the best immigrants rather than the most immigrants. Sustainable immigration grows our economy and brings in people that Canada needs.
A PPC government would advocate for first taking care of our citizens and recent immigrants rather than bringing in immigrants who arrive in order to become a burden on our welfare system, and simultaneously occupy housing that would normally be available to Canadians. The PPC wants to provide new immigrants with opportunities and not handouts.
On climate change: When Justin Trudeau signed the UN ‘Paris Accord’ for climate change, he flew a delegation of hundreds of bureaucrats with him to Paris. The hypocrisy of this is staggering. He flew to Paris with hundreds of people, paid by taxpayers, to tell people not to fly around the world! If Trudeau wants to reduce carbon emissions he should lead by example.
A PPC government would respect the choices of Canadians. If an individual believes in cutting carbon emissions then, they should make personal choices to reduce their carbon emissions, by flying less, driving an electric car or living in a smaller home. A PPC government would withdraw from the UN Paris Accord. We would stop sending billions of dollars to help foreign countries reduce their emissions. A PPC government would prioritize practical solutions to make Canada’s air, water and soil cleaner.