Provincial candidates square off at the Pinestone
|By Mark Arike - Staff Writer | August 13, 2015
Many familiar issues were raised at Monday’s all-candidates debate at the Pinestone Resort.
They ranged from job creation to youth mental health to high hydro rates Six provincial candidates touted their parties’ platforms and several criticized current and former governments for failing Ontarians. After opening speeches, moderator Jim Blake presented questions from event organizers, the local CARP chapter and the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce.
CARP asked what the candidates would do to help seniors facing a variety of challenges, including a lack of long-term care and transportation services. Libertarian Gene Balfour said his party doesn’t believe it should have to solve all of society’s problems. However, it will eliminate government-granted monopolies.
“We’re going to eliminate the regulations that enforce monopolies so that nongovernment enterprises can come into the marketplace and provide services the government cannot provide today,” said Balfour.
Brooklynne Cramp-Waldinsperger said the Liberals have opened 10,000 long-term care beds and are committed to making another 30,000 available in the next 10 years. She also said that more than 4,400 medications are covered by the OHIP+ program for seniors 65 and older.
“We understand that seniors have put so much into their communities, and they deserve to retire with pride and dignity,” she said.
Chuck MacMillan of the Consensus Ontario party said high electricity costs and property tax are “unfair.” He’s seen many seniors having to return to work to get by.
“We would work together with the seniors—not just about long-term beds—but also putting money back in their pockets so they can have a decent living,” said MacMillan, who would love it if seniors didn’t have to pay any taxes. NDP candidate Zac Miller said his party will cut hydro rates by 30 per cent and eliminate time-of-use billing. Other strategies include building 65,000 affordable housing units, implementing rent controls, and universal dental and pharma care.
None of the Above party candidate Thomas Rhyno said he wants constituents to tell him what to do.
“We want to send information packages to you guys, so you can tell us where the care needs to be and where the money needs to go,” he said, adding “it’s going to be super easy for you guys.”
Incumbent MPP Laurie Scott said the Conservatives will “put more money in your pockets” by reducing hydro 12 per cent, income taxes, and gas by 10 cents a litre. More long-term care beds are needed, stressed Scott. The chamber asked how candidates plan to strengthen businesses and foster job creation. Miller answered first, saying his party plans to buy 33 per cent of their goods and services from small businesses. He said universal dental care would be an incentive to employees. They also plan to invest in agricultural businesses.
Rhyno said there will be a lot of “mess-ups” to clean up from past governments. “I’m going to work hard to do it and you’re going to help me do it, too,” he said.
Scott agreed that business owners are facing too much red tape. She supports decreasing hydro rates and business tax. Balfour, a former professional recruiter for IT jobs, said it’s important to have fewer government regulations, reduce taxation and extraneous costs. Cramp-Waldinsperger said the Liberals will invest $500 million into small businesses and cut the tax rate from 4.5 to 3.5 per cent.
MacMillan’s party wants to establish a job creation grant for businesses to create 200,000 jobs and promote shopping locally. The Green party’s candidate, Lynn Therien, did not attend.
MARK ARIKE is a reporter for The Highlander.