The MyParrySoundNow.com newsroom reached out to all the candidates that will be on the ballot for the June 2 provincial election to get their thoughts on the issue that matters in Parry Sound-Muskoka.
Each week leading up to election day, we will publish a story with each candidate answering a question that residents have as they head to the polls.
This week, we asked them about affordability: as gas prices approach $2.00 a litre in Parry Sound-Muskoka and with affordable housing and the cost of rent being issues as well – how will your party lead the economic recovery process in the riding? How can your party help constituents afford everyday items and housing? What relief is in store for low and middle-income workers if your party wins the election?
Graydon Smith, Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario
Smith says the PCs are “fixated” on the issue of affordability, adding they understand the rising cost of gas is making a big impact on Parry Sound-Muskoka, notably families.
He says the party is committed to cutting the gas tax by 5.7 cents per litre and the fuel tax by 5.3 cents for six months starting in July. Smith also touts how the PCs took away license plate sticker fees, raised the minimum wage, and created tax credits for low-income earners.
Smith adds that the party is also working to bring homeownership within reach by building new homes. He explains the plan to “get it done” has helped start 100,000 new construction projects last year and will kick start 1.5 million homes over the next decade.
Erin Horvath, Ontario’s New Democratic Party
Horvath says if elected her party will end exclusionary zoning, create a portable housing benefit for renters and bring back rent control for all rentals.
Over the next ten years, Horvath says the NDP plans to build 250,000 new affordable homes, repair 260,000 existing social housing units and build 60,000 new supportive housing units.
She says the party also plans on increasing the province’s minimum wage to $20 by 2026 with stable and predictable $1 an hour increases annually beginning on October 1st 2022 and freeze income tax for the next four years for families with a combined income of less than $200,000.
In addition, Horvath says if elected the NDP will help families with everyday items by banning postal code discrimination for insurance pricing, and bringing back the cap-and-trade program with at least a quarter of the revenue brought in going to offset the bills of people in rural and Northern areas.
Matt Richter, Green Party of Ontario
Richter says the housing crisis has “spiralled out of control” and the provincial government must play a role in fixing the problem.
His party’s platform includes building 100,000 affordable housing units throughout the province and to help people retrofit their homes to make them more affordable to heat, cool, and maintain.
Richter says the Greens will also crackdown on speculation, which he says is playing a role in causing housing prices to rise. He explains the party will work with municipalities to create a province-wide speculation home tax.
As for the price of gas, Richter says he believes people want relief from the pumps, not relief at them. That’s why his party plans to invest in electric cars and build up electric infrastructure to invest locally and not in the “big oil cartel.”
Doug Maynard, New Blue Party of Ontario
Maynard says his party will focus on cutting taxes which will, in turn, put more money back in the pockets of people in Parry Sound-Muskoka.
He explains that includes a three-percent cut to the HST and scrapping the $100 million taxpayer subsidy being paid out to provincial parties.
He believes that cutting taxes will help pump more money into the economy.
Brad Waddell, Populist Party of Ontario
Waddell says with rising food prices, he would focus on making communities more self-sufficient through community gardening and reseeding initiatives.
According to Waddell, more unused buildings on public land could be converted into affordable housing, citing a shuttered elementary school in Burk’s Falls that was converted into seniors housing in 2019. He says that would allow for more development that doesn’t require natural features– the riding’s selling point– to be cleared.
Waddell adds that heating costs can be reduced by his party’s pilot project to produce and provide solar-powered heaters made from recycled materials to low-income or elderly residents, which do not need to be wired into a building.
Lastly, he says investment in local public transit would mean less reliance on expensive fuel to get around, and would increase access for disabled and elderly residents.
Andrew John Cocks, Ontario Party
Andrew John Cocks says if elected, The Ontario Party would tackle high fuel costs by partnering with western provinces to create an energy corridor between Ontario and Alberta, which would remove the need to buy foreign oil. He adds they would also scrap the provincial and industrial carbon taxes, and challenge the federal carbon tax, a move he estimates would bring down gas prices by $0.16 per litre.
According to Cocks, who is a realtor, the party would also ban foreign buyers in the housing market, adjust zoning laws for single-family homes to allow the creation of more units, and create a task force to crack down on money laundering in real estate.
Regarding careers, Cocks says the party would invest in local trades and manufacturing-based careers, as well as reduce paperwork and cut fees around starting a new business. He also proposes making it mandatory for businesses to accept cash as payment, tax benefits and wage subsidies for the food service and manufacturing sectors, and revitalizing auto manufacturing in Ontario.
Daniel Predie Jr., Independent
Predie Jr. says not having a home or consistent place to stay makes it virtually impossible to think about affording everyday items.
He says his focus is rooting out corruption in both the immigration system and real estate market.
According to Predie Jr., he would crack down on people who take advantage of the real estate system by buying homes and forcing tenants out. As such, he says his first move would be to immediately and indefinitely put all evictions in the riding on hold. He adds it would stay like that until the riding’s residents collectively agree that issues of corruption and exploitation in the real estate market have been resolved.
**With files from Mathew Reisler and Martin Halek