In an effort to get federal candidates to talk about what really matters to Canadian cities and towns in the federal election, Peel’s four municipal governments banded together and voiced their collective concerns.
“This spring campaign has remained largely silent on the key issues, such as infrastructure funding, which urban and rural communities are facing,” said Emil Kolb, Chair, Region of Peel. “We’ve heard a great deal about health care, security and the economy, but there are other pressing priorities that impact these issues and still need to be raised.”
“We have over 15,000 families and individuals currently on our wait list for affordable housing; the wait time is unacceptable. As well, our homeless shelters are needed to provide emergency and temporary housing to thousands of children and families,” said Chair Kolb.
“Our economic potential is being choked by gridlock,” said Chair Kolb. “We encourage the federal government to take ownership of long-term infrastructure planning and to fund municipalities so that they can plan more effectively for these critical public services.”
“We fully recognize that reducing the infrastructure deficit facing our communities calls for the commitment of all levels of government, but we believe that the federal government has a key leadership role in building the foundations for a solid, sustainable infrastructure,” said Susan Fennell, Mayor, City of Brampton.
“Long wait times for affordable housing and the lack of subsidized rental units mean that low income residents may have no alternative than to live in over-crowded and potentially unsafe housing,” said Marolyn Morrison, Mayor, Town of Caledon.
“We need to work with the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec to expedite the Ontario-Quebec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor Strategy and ensure long-term federal funding for improvements to the transportation system in Peel and across the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area,” said Hazel McCallion, Mayor, City of Mississauga.
During the session, the Councillors asked the federal candidates of each party to respond to their questions:
Mississauga Councillor Ron Starr: How do we get people out of cars and into public transportation to reduce congestion on roads?
NDP candidate Jagtar Shergill (Brampton West): Carbon pricing can help people use vehicles less. NDP will make 1 cent investment will be injected back into municipalities.
(Both Liberal candidate Andrew Kania and Conservative candidate Kyle Seaback skipped the meeting)
Liberal candidate Peter Fonseca (Mississauga-East Cooksville): Liberals were the first to introduce the Gas Tax money. This money is invested in municipalities but in Peel region, the Conservatives won’t invest in the same kind of light rail that is there in Kitchener and Edmonton.
Conservative candidate Even Adams (Mississauga-Brampton South): Conservative government is the first government that entrenched the Gas Tax money into the 2011 budget.
Mississauga City Councillor Pat Mullen: Peel region that accommodates 10 % of Ontario’s population has the highest growth and the highest immigration rates. How will each of the party address the social housing in Peel region where people have to wait up to 21 years to get social housing? Can the parties’ look into the policy that Peel region can keep the interest on mortgages and that can be then invested back into muncipilaities.
Liberal candidate Navdeep Bains (Mississauga Brampton South): Liberal Party has holistic approach to address affordable housing. We will make the Gas Tax permanent. We will invest $550 million to affordable housing. And we will sit down with municipalities to discuss the issue.
Green Party candidate John Fraser: We’ll stop investing in exotic things such as jets and jails and put priority on the family as a basic unit.
Conservative candidate Brad Butt (Mississauga Streetsville): We shouldn’t let the provincial government off the hook. We can look into all viable solutions including a suggestion by Councillor Mullen that municipalities can keep interest on mortgages and invest it in social housing. But that’s my personal commitment to look into, I can’t commit it on behalf of the Party.
Caledon Town Councillor Richard Paterak: Is there federal structural deficit? And how will it be reduced?
NDP candidate Jagtar Shergill (Brampton West): We need to set the priorities right. Cutting GST from 7% to 5% cut out the revenue that could be invested in addressing the deficit. We’ll increase the corporate tax rates to bring them up to par with the rest of G8 countries.
Liberal candidate Omar Alghabra (Mississauga Erindale): There’s all this muscular talk about prudent spending when there has been out of touch spending in G8 Summit and corporate tax rate reduction.
(Conservative candidate and the only Conservative MP in Peel region was not in attendance).
Conservative candidate Even Adams (Mississauga-Brampton South): We’re paying off the debt a year earlier than expected.
Caledon Town Councillor Richard Paterak: I didn’t get my answer.
Caledon Town Councillor Richard Whitehead : How much can we afford in taxes?
Brampton Regional Councillor Elaine Moore: Whosever is elected in the government, please use us [Peel region] as a resource. We are not here to confront you about your policies; we are here to work with you, so please come talk to us.
Caledon Town Councillor Patti Foley: There’s been much talk about democracy. The Green Party had gained one million votes last time, yet I didn’t hear any outrage from any other political party when Elizabeth May was left out of the leader’s debate.