Three community groups — The Access to Permanent Housing Committee, the Kawartha Lakes Food Coalition and the Haliburton County FoodNet – posed questions on poverty, housing, and food insecurity to candidates in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock running for office in this provincial election. In this installment, we hear from Progressive Conservative Candidate Laurie Scott.
What will your party do to increase and maintain access to affordable, safe housing, in addition to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Canada-Ontario Investment in Affordable Housing Agreement?
Scott: The Ontario PCs believe that Ontarians should not have to work day and night to be able to afford to heat their homes, pay their rent or mortgage and put food on the table for their families.
In the City of Kawartha Lakes there is a 0.8 per cent vacancy rate, and many families across our community are facing long wait-lists for suitable housing that they can afford. We have a plan to address this. In fact, we are the only party that is putting forward a proposal that will encourage building to ensure that tenants not only have an affordable place to live but a choice to decide on a home that is best for their family. There is no doubt that Ontario has a housing crisis, and we need all three levels of government to continue to work together to make life more affordable for the families in our community. Ontario PCs will also continue to support rent control. Our party will make life more affordable for our communities and is focused in putting more money in your pockets.
Does your party support income based solutions to address poverty such as a Basic Income Guarantee? Will your party support modernization & increased rates of social assistance as well as adequate wages that reflect a living wage to allow low-income earners to meet their basic needs?
Scott: The Basic Income Pilot Project is underway in its first year. We can create real change that puts more money back in your pockets, reduces hydro rates, lowers your taxes, and allows our industries to flourish – providing well-paying jobs. I understand how difficult it can be for families in our community to make ends meet and they are forced to make tough decisions between heating their homes and putting food on their tables. For that reason, we will continue to support this pilot project and look forward to seeing the results.
How will your party ensure people have adequate incomes to meet their basic needs including covering the cost of nutritious food?
Scott: Life in Ontario is expensive. That is why Ontario PCs are committed to making life more affordable for everyone in the province. Under a PC Government there will be no provincial income taxes for families who make under $30 000 a year, and we will cut taxes on middle-class earners by 20 per cent. We will also decrease the cost of hydro and reduce the tax on gas by 10 cents per litre to ease financial burdens on families across the province.
What would you do to increase accessibility or reduce barriers to accessing these services? Will your party continue to support programs that cover prescription medication for people under 25, seniors, and people on social assistance? Would your party expand coverage for individuals between age 25 and 64 who do not have private insurance? One in five people in Ontario don’t visit a dentist due to cost. What will your party do to make oral health care accessible for those who can’t afford private dental insurance?
Scott: Too many people have face difficulty while accessing health care programs and services in Ontario. No one should be facing barriers, nor should they have to forego purchasing their prescription drugs in order to pay their rent or their hydro bill. For that reason, Ontario PCs will continue to support the OHIP + program. Ontario PCs will also build 15,000 more long-term care beds over 5 years and 30 000 in ten years across the province. We will decrease the long-wait times for health care services and providing free dental care services to low-income seniors across the province. The PCs are committed to working with our doctors and nurses to ensure Ontarians can easily access health care services.
How will your party address the need for affordable childcare for working parents and those wishing to continue their education?
Scott: A one size fits all approach to child care leaves many families struggling to find affordable childcare for their families. We Ontario PCs believe that parents should have choice and flexibility when it comes to making decisions about child care for their children. For this reason, an Ontario PC Government will provide families with a childcare tax rebate for infants to children up to the age of 15 years old, regardless of choosing a licensed day-care facility or in-home babysitting service. Our plan will put more money in parents’ pockets and respect the choices and needs of moms and dads in deciding what’s best for their kids.