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Simcoe-Grey candidates weigh-in on economy, worker shortage

CollingwoodToday asked candidates for their plan to stimulate the economy and job market in the wake of deficit and COVID-19, here are their answers
Simcoe-Greycandidates
Simcoe-Grey candidates for the federal election include: Top L-R Bren Munro (Liberal), Nick Clayton (Green), Terry Dowdall (Conservative), Lucas Gillies (NDP), bottom row l-r Adam Minatel (PPC) and Ken Stouffer (Christian Heritage Party).

CollingwoodToday.ca asked each of the federal candidates in Simcoe-Grey a series of six questions via email. The following responses were submitted by the candidates and/or their campaigns. The answers have not been checked for accuracy; they represent the candidate’s platforms and opinions. External links have been removed.

Visit collingwoodtoday.ca/canadavotes2021 for more coverage of the federal election. Voting day is Sept. 20 and advance voting starts Sept. 10.

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Q: We are facing a massive deficit coupled with a need for a continued economic recovery effort in the wake of the pandemic. On top of that, there is a critical need for more employees in the service sectors. What will you and your party do to address the deficit, stimulate the economy and help address the shortage of workers?

Bren Munro, Liberal: The pandemic has hurt many people in our community, and many have struggled financially. The Liberal government has helped ease the burden on workers and their families through critical supports including the Canada Emergency Recovery Benefit (CERB), increases to the Canada Child Benefit and the Canada Workers Benefit, which has helped millions of Canadians. To support hard-hit businesses, Liberals also brought in the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, which has protected over five million jobs, as well as loans and rent assistance programs.

Building on our commitment to create one million jobs, the Liberal government introduced the new Canada Recovery Hiring Program so businesses can hire more workers and Canadians can get back on the job. This funding will help employers increase wages or hours for existing employees or hire more staff. A re-elected Liberal government would extend the program until March 31, 2022, making it easier for businesses to increase wages, create new jobs, and grow their business.

As we look to our economic recovery, we must also consider how to help parents, and mothers, in particular, get back to work. Our $10/day childcare program will help ensure everyone can be part of our recovery.

Ken Stouffer, CHP: The CHP would end all COVID restrictions and set our businesses free to generate a profit and create jobs. 

We would remove other impediments to a healthy economy, such as carbon taxes and unnecessary red tape. The best thing a government can do to stimulate the economy is get out of the way – less government interference means more productivity. We would move as quickly as possible to balance the budget and start paying down government debt.  

To address the shortage of workers we would stop government handouts that are incentivizing able-bodied people to stay home. Many people have a problem with the idea of ending all COVID restrictions, as most of us have been taken in by the mainstream media’s and the government’s exaggerated fear mongering concerning the dangers of COVID. 

We have been misled in many ways. COVID-19 is a real sickness but it doesn’t warrant lockdowns, masks and social distancing.

Nick Clayton, Green: The mere existence of the current federal deficit disproves the oft-used excuse that governments cannot afford to go into debt to help citizens. Governments are not limited by their budgets and may tap into the productive capacity of their economies, if needed. Currently, interest rates remain historically low, and the negative consequences used to justify austerity have yet to materialize. 

This opens the door to a conversation about extending CERB into a permanent program that replaces EI and patchwork social assistance programs. 

I cannot accept that, in order for the economy to function, we need people working for poverty wages. A Guaranteed Liveable Income would establish a baseline living wage for each municipality, raising employment standards and offsetting jobs lost due to automation (e.g. self-checkout). Putting money into the hands of people who need to spend it is the best form of economic stimulus. 

Affordable Housing is a key issue in keeping a stable base of service sector employees. The gap between earnings and housing expenses is so wide that many people are priced out of the communities in which they work. We need a National Housing Strategy that coordinates with provinces and municipalities to create affordable and sustainable housing. 

Terry Dowdall, Conservative: Canada went into the pandemic with deficits and increased debt loads, we came out with bigger deficits and record debt levels. Liberals do not have a jobs plan, they have a spending plan. 

A Conservative government will slowly reduce spending and balance the budget over 10 years. We will help people get working again and help businesses get workers back. Once the Canada Emergency Wage subsidy ends, we will introduce the Canada Job Surge Plan. It will pay at least 25 per cent of the salary of net new hires for six months. For those who have been unemployed long-term, our plan will cover up to 50 per cent.

To help new workers join the workforce or those who want to retrain to stay in it, we will invest $250 million over two years to create the Canada Job Training Fund. The fund will give laid-off workers immediate access to training, help tourism and hospitality workers who have been hit hard by the recession, and more. We will also double the Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit and create the Working Canadian Training Loan to provide low-interest loans of up to $10,000 to people who want to upgrade their skills. 

Lucas Gillies, NDP: Our economic recovery needs to tackle the climate emergency and the housing crisis. The NDP will invest in building affordable housing and green infrastructure to create one million new good jobs and a more sustainable future. In the next 10 years, nine million people will retire. We need to retrain workers and help educate students for jobs in the new green economy by providing expanded EI training and forgiving crippling student debt. 

We will promote procurement for made-in-Canada products. 

Most service industry salaries do not cover the high cost of living, so we need to increase their wages and make life more affordable.  

Canadian billionaires are $78 billion richer since the first lockdown in 2020. With an aging population and a dimishing workforce, New Democrats will implement new, fair and progressive taxation sources such as: one per cent wealth tax on wealth over $10 million;  temporary 15 per cent COVID-19 excess profits tax on large corporate windfall profits during the pandemic;  luxury goods tax on things like yachts and private jets; two per cent increase in the top marginal tax rate. We will ensure that internet giants pay their fair share of taxes just like other companies and close tax loopholes.

Adam Minatel, PPC: Our debt was inadvertently used as a precursor to usher in policies of socialism and have since riddled our nation to a debt load exceeding $1.3 trillion that we need to manage immediately. 

No other party is even tackling this issue effectively, and we aim to curb our deficit spending, and balance our budget within four years of taking office. We will end all COVID spending programs, initiate an immediate transparent open debate about the implementation of prophylactic treatments. They are much cheaper for our provinces to provide, and allow for additional spending to be put towards our sectors most hit like tourism, interprovincial trade and export. 

Workers have been subjected to free handout monies, keeping them participating in our economy, and instead stressing small businesses and corporate entities to a problematic level only seen in recessionary eras. Universal basic income and high minimum wage would stress this even further.