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Multiple topics discussed at federal all-candidates meeting

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: Residents of Kawartha Lakes were able to hear their 2021 federal election candidates’ thoughts on a variety of topics, during an all-candidates meeting held in Lindsay on Thursday, September 9th.

The meeting was put on by the Lindsay and District Chamber of Commerce and the Frost Student Association. One of the issues discussed was housing affordability.

Conservative candidate Jamie Schmale had a couple of actions in mind.

“The issue here is on the supply side, in a lot of cases. What we are going to do is free up some spaces. Starting with about 37,000 buildings the federal government has in its portfolio. We’re going to look at that portfolio and then release a minimum of 15 percent of that supply to start creating houses,” he said. “We’re also going to ban foreign home-ownership, those [who] are trying to use Canada as a place to hide their money from other governments or other actors. We’re going to stop that and start to relieve some of that pressure on the demand side.”

“Young Canadians aren’t asking for a free house; they’re not asking for a handout. They’re just asking for a little bit of help, and that’s what we want to give them. We have a plan called ‘A Home for Everyone.’ We want to unlock home-ownership, we want to build more homes, and we want to protect the rights of those buying homes,” Liberal candidate Judi Forbes said.

NDP candidate Zac Miller said, the NDP plans to have 1.7 million homes created, with 500,000 of them listed as affordable housing. Green Party candidate Angel Godsoe stressed the importance of all Canadians having access to housing.

“Of course, the Green Party of Canada will work with all levels of government to promote and support local housing initiatives. We have a housing-first policy and believe safe and affordable housing is a human right. It will be protected by building more affordable housing, increasing funding for more cooperative and supportive housing to be built, [and] ensuring all housing in Indigenous communities is built following principles in the U.N. declaration of rights for Indigenous peoples. The Green Party of Canada is also planning on launching a program on building retrofits.”

Libertarian candidate Gene Balfour explained the reason for the housing crisis could be Canadians not having as much disposable income after taxes, as well as “excessive regulations.”

People’s Party of Canada (PPC) candidate Alison Davidson cited lowering federal spending, balancing the budget and reducing taxes as ways to help with this issue.

The candidates were also asked if they would amend the Canada Health Act to include long-term care, to ensure the sector receives public funding and there are national standards in place.

Mr. Balfour opined, the healthcare system is already failing, so it wouldn’t make sense to add more responsibility to the government.

Ms. Davidson said the “provinces need the autonomy to innovate and make things work better in their own province.” She added long-term care homes need to follow regulations which are already in place.

Ms. Forbes pointed the finger at the Ontario provincial conservative government for the current state of the long-term care sector.

“It is important to note the Conservative government’s willingness to stop random reviews of these homes, their reliance on privately owned homes and the total failure of the Ministry of Health to support long-term care homes in this crisis, even with the help offered by the federal government,” she said.

Mr. Schmale took exception with that comment.

“I do find it interesting that she quickly posted blame at the current provincial government, given the fact, under 15 years of Liberal rule in Ontario, less than 2,500 old age, long-term care facility beds were built, and privatization was expanded,” he said.

Mr. Schmale added, the Conservative Party plans to double healthcare transfer funding to the provinces.

Mr. Miller said, the NDP has a plan to make all long-term care homes publicly owned.

“The first thing we must do is remove for-profit from long-term care. The federal government can do this, first by starting with Revera, which is federally owned. Second, in order to best achieve the [removal] of profit from long-term care, the federal government must legislate an independent act of parliament [which] brings long-term care under the public umbrella. Within this act, national standards can be defined,” he said.

Ms. Godsoe said, the Green Party is committed to holding a national inquiry into the long-term care crisis and agreed the federal government must stop for-profit long-term care homes.

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