By Veronica Reiner
The Wilmot-Tavistock Gazette has asked three questions to the Member of Provincial Parliament candidates in Kitchener-Conestoga. In this week's edition, they are answering this one:
Inflation is out of control; the price of gas is through the roof, and everything costs more. What can you and your party do to improve the cost of living and affordability for residents of Kitchener-Conestoga?
Progressive Conservative candidate Mike Harris:
The Ontario PC Party is committed to making life more affordable for the residents and families of Kitchener-Conestoga. Our government has been laser-focused on streamlining the process of increasing housing supply, including affordable housing, purpose-built rentals, and single-family homes. Our approach has already resulted in over 100,000 new construction starts, the highest in over thirty years. This approach has put us on track to meet our goal of building up to 1.5 million homes over the next ten years.
The PC Government also committed to lowering taxes on gas which will take effect July 1. We have ended fees for licence plate stickers, putting more money in the pockets of hard-working Ontarians. We are also expanding access to natural gas and broadband internet throughout the riding and improving access to affordable childcare.
We are also investing in critical infrastructure like hospitals and highways to provide people with the services they'll need now and into the future so that our local and provincial economies can recover and thrive.
A PC Government will continue to make Ontario the best place to work, live and raise a family. We will always support the needs of our growing communities right here in Waterloo Region.
Liberal Party candidate Melanie Van Alphen:
The cost of living has skyrocketed out of control, making life unaffordable for Kitchener-Conestoga residents. The Ontario Liberal affordability pledge commits to 19 ways we will improve the cost of living for residents.
The people of Kitchener-Conestoga will see transit rates lower to $1, and we will work to improve accessibility and more intercity connections while also reducing gas taxes. When it comes to housing, we will build 1.5 million homes with 138,000 new deeply affordable homes. An increase in food costs is also rising and a concern. We will remove the provincial HST from prepared foods under $20. The Ontario Liberal party is also committed to increasing the minimum wage to $16 and bringing in a regional living wage.
Our plan is comprehensive and will support many when it comes to the cost of living and affordability. From business owners to students, better pay for health care workers and refunds for child care, affordable homes to rent control, there is something in here for everyone. I am committed to connecting with and listening to the residents of Kitchener-Conestoga as we work to make life more affordable.
New Democratic Party candidate Karen Meissner:
At the doorsteps, I hear people talking about how hard life has become, that they don't have any room in their budget for any extras, and that their paycheques aren't going as far. The NDP wants to address this by banning price gouging at the pumps, increasing the minimum wage to $20/hour, and having dental care, pharmacare, and mental health under OHIP. These are just a few ways that we can address the affordability crisis many are facing today.
Housing is also a top issue for residents in Kitchener-Conestoga. For many, homeownership is out of reach. Renters are finding themselves facing evictions or renovictions. At the doorsteps, several people have told me they are considering leaving Ontario because they can't find a home that fits their needs. The Ontario NDP believes that housing is a human right. In 2020, The NDP came out with our platform called "Homes You Can Afford" - this crisis was known to us many years ago. Since then, we've become more aggressive in our goals to house everyone. In it you will find plans for real rent control, recommits to repairing 260,000 social housing units and building more homes that fit the needs of the community. Additionally, our strategy is about working with local municipal governments and their calls to end exclusionary zoning.
New Blue Party candidate Jim Karahalios:
The Gazette received no direct response to the question, but did receive several other emails regarding the campaign activities of Jim and Belinda Karaholios. The New Blue Party campaign sent the following email immediately following the query:
Due to the increased volume of emails we have been receiving with interest in the New Blue Party of Ontario, it has taken us longer than we'd like to respond. We can assure you that every email we receive is read. Thank you for your patience and your support!
Green Party candidate Nasir Abdulle
The Gazette has attempted to contact the candidate several times via the email address listed on the official Green Party website with no success therefore no answer to the question has been submitted.