With voters headed to the polls on September 20, Doppler invited the Parry Sound-Muskoka candidates from the five main national parties to participate in a Q&A. Each day this week, we’ll be posting their replies in random order.
Today’s question: What issue do you feel is of greatest importance for residents of Parry Sound-Muskoka in the immediate future and how will you work to address it?
Conservative Party, Scott Aitchison
One of the biggest issues facing Party Sound-Muskoka is economic and social recovery post-COVID. Just because the economy is reopening doesn’t mean businesses are recovering. Many small and medium sized businesses – especially family businesses – are just hanging on by a thread. Here in Muskoka, our economy is quite seasonal. We rely on the tourism and hospitality sectors to boost our economy in all four seasons, as well as the summer camp sector. All these operations have been severely impacted by COVID, and we need a local action plan – supported by the provincial and federal governments – to ensure our whole riding benefits in the recovery.
At the same time, we also need to invest in social supports – such as mental health. The last two years have severely affected our national psyche, and PSM is no exception. As we approach recovery, we need to not only take care of our businesses, but also our families and ourselves.
On a related note, both businesses and families alike in PSM continue to be frustrated by lack of access to rural broadband. This is a HUGE issue for PSM and remains one of my top priorities for 2021/22.
Green Party, Marc Mantha
This is a popular question. Or something like, “What are the top three issues?” We tend to put issues into silos, while everything is interconnected. You cannot for example have a plan for mental health without relieving the housing crisis. Because the housing crisis is a catalyst for mental health issues. The housing crisis is a source of distress, food insecurity, and brings on more pressures to healthcare, counseling and addictions support. The issues aren’t weighted one more than the other.
There are many working parts of the Canadian quality-of-life big picture. Mitigating the climate crisis is the catalyst for restoring prosperity and well-being by shifting subsidies away from things that contribute to the climate emergency, directing resources to programs that support sustainable farming, businesses, construction, tourism, housing, mental health, and electric public transportation. We all deserve better.
People’s Party, Jim Tole
In my opinion, the most important bread and butter issue for the residents of Parry Sound-Muskoka is the lack of permanent, year-round (as opposed to seasonal), well-paying, private-sector employment opportunities. There are only two ways to create more wealth and prosperity: we can either work more or work more efficiently through increased productivity. Investments in R&D, innovation, more efficient production processes, machinery and equipment are critical to improvements in productivity and living standards.
Improved productivity leads to better, higher-paying jobs. And in a context where there are manpower shortages in many sectors, investment is a way to increase production without necessarily having to employ more workers.
Unfortunately, Canada’s business climate is less and less welcoming to investors. Since 2015, business investment has gone down not only in the oil and gas sector, but in many other sectors as well. Canada is also attracting less foreign direct investment. More government intervention in the economy is not the answer to our economic challenges. Every time the government takes an additional dollar in taxes, or borrows it, this is a dollar that individuals or business people will not be able to spend or invest.
Lower taxes (both business and personal) will help to foster a business-friendly climate. If elected as a member of a People’s Party of Canada government, I would work hard to attract private sector companies to the area in order to create private sector employment opportunities.
Our plan is as follows.
A People’s Party government will:
Ottawa should stop taking billions of dollars from the private sector and redistributing them through subsidies. It should instead lower taxes for all businesses and encourage saving and investment to make our economy more productive.
- Eliminate all corporate subsidies and other inefficient government interventions (bailouts of failing companies, regional development grants, conditional loans and loan guarantees with an implicit subsidy, tax credits, etc.) that unfairly support some companies or business sectors. This will generate savings of between $5 billion and $10 billion a year.
- Gradually reduce over the course of one mandate the corporate income tax rate from its current 15 per cent down to 10 per cent. When completed, this measure will make about $9.5 billion available to businesses, allowing them to increase salaries or invest in productivity improvements.*
- Over the course of one mandate, gradually abolish the personal capital gains tax by decreasing the inclusion rate from the current 50 per cent down to 0 per cent. When completed, this measure will put about $7 billion per year back into the pockets of Canadians.*
*According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s Ready Reckoner website.
Liberal Party, Jovanie Nicoyishakiye
Did not respond.
New Democratic Party, Heather Hay
The lack of affordable housing is the main issue facing our riding. We live in an area where $80million+ is spent building a single cottage and a woman fleeing violence with her children is told the shelter is full and the district offers money to purchase a tent.
Housing programs that require matching funds from municipal governments exclude rural communities with smaller budgets increasing the rural/urban divide. The NDP is committed to building 500,000 affordable homes and waiving the federal portion of the GST for affordable housing. I would advocate for interest-free loans for rural municipalities to invest in safe, affordable housing.
See the candidates’ answers to previous questions at the links below: