SCUGOG: Issues surrounding the small and medium-sized business sector dominated the federal election candidates forum, hosted by the Scugog Chamber of Commerce before a packed house at Scugog Recreation Centre on Wednesday, Sept. 16.
Among the issues addressed by three of the four local candidates ahead of the Oct. 19 election was tax incentives and credits to help small business owners. Incumbent Conservative MP Erin O’Toole said that the Conservatives have had success with recent legislation in that area.
“We’ve been stimulating hiring in that sector. Some of the hiring that we have had is because of a new hiring tax credit that we introduced a few years ago to encourage small and medium sized employers,” Mr. O’Toole said. “Each one that hires one or two more, multiply that by 15,000 small businesses and you see a real impact on the economy.”
He also added that the party has avoided payroll taxes, something he said would be a “hit on jobs.”
NDP candidate Derek Spence promised that his party would reduce the current tax rate of 12 per cent by one per cent each year if they are elected.
“It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s enough to get small businesses the available funds to invest in capital, hire new employees and succeed in their communities,” explained Mr. Spence.
Liberal candidate Corinna Traill said that all parties agree that they want to get the small business tax rate to nine per cent, but said that there is one thing only the Liberals have offered voters.
“One of the things that we need to keep in mind, and that our party is addressing is fairness. This is why the Liberal party is the only party that is going to be giving a seven per cent tax cut to all middle class Canadians,” Ms. Traill said. “By allowing Canadians to keep more of their money, we are able to see the kind of growth that we need and that has been sorely missing the last decade.”
Later, talks shifted to how each of the parties plans for addressing a shortage of skilled labour across the country.
Mr. O’Toole commented that under the Conservative government, the Canada Jobs grant has been successful at creating skilled jobs.
“We are actually going to employers that are hiring and looking for skills in those positions. We have had some early success with it, and it’s about filling that gap,” he said. Mr. O’Toole added that he has also been proud of the partnerships that he has created with the local Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Trade since being elected in a 2012 byelection.
Ms. Traill said that the Liberal government is ready to make a significant investment to help create jobs.
“A new Liberal government will invest $1.3 billion over three years, which is 13 times more than the NDP, to create jobs and opportunities for young Canadians so they can get a strong start in life,” she said. “A Trudeau led Liberal government will also create 40,000 youth jobs each year for the next three years, through a new annual investment of $300 million into the renewed youth employment strategy.”
Ms. Traill also added that the Liberals plan to invest an additional $500 million into labour market development analysis.
Mr. Spence noted that the NDP have a different take on the issue, as they plan to invest in education.
“We plan to increase and live up to our expectations to transfer funds to post secondary institutions,” he said. “That gets us in a position where more people can access colleges and universities and get the training to get the skills that can be used, not only by small businesses, but larger businesses and any industry.”
Andrew Moriarity of the Christian Heritage Party was the lone Durham Riding candidate unable to attend the event.