As part of our special #elxn43 coverage, Btchcoin interviewed representatives from each major party who are in charge of economic and financial policy. In this three-part series, we ask these politicians questions crowd-sourced from you, our readers.
Btchcoin Managing Editor Claire Robbins and Contributor Sukhmeet Singh corresponded with MP John Barlow through email throughout the month of October. The interview below is from his written answers, unedited.
- Heather, Okotoks, AB, Student
“I’m studying to be an occupational therapist, and I’m wondering what this government’s plan for increasing employment and skills development opportunities for people with disabilities is?
Answer: Heather, as Shadow Minister for Workforce Development, Employment and Labour I was honoured to be the vice-chair of the Human Resources Committee when we reviewed Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act, which removes barriers for people with disabilities in federally regulated industries.
This is a great first step, but I think there are critical areas to strengthen this bill to remove obstacles and improve opportunities for people with disabilities.
There must be standards in place and metrics to measure success and accountability. We must remove the option for federal departments to be exempt as the Government of Canada should be taking the lead. It does not mention Indigenous Canadians in any way. Finally, the legislation establishes new departments for people with disabilities to file concerns through a “no wrong door” policy.
Every stakeholder who came to committee raised concerns with these shortfalls and Conservatives are committed to improving this legislation especially the no wrong door policy. It should be the right door as this makes it confusing, no consistency on dealing with complaints or concerns and much too bureaucratic.
Heather, We will also reduce red tape, scrap the carbon tax and reverse the Liberal CPP and EI tax hikes on small business allowing them to grow, expand their business and hire more people, which will certainly help people with disabilities access the labour market.
Finally, a Conservative government will introduce the Fairness for Persons with Disabilities Act, reducing the number of hours needed to qualify for the Disability Tax Credit. We want to ensure people with disabilities can fare for themselves and manage their health needs so they can enter the workforce.
- Anastasia, Toronto, ON
“I’m an immigrant, and I love that this government is committed to altruism, but the cost of bringing in so many newcomers to Canada concerns me – how does will your government balance the plan to accept more immigrants, and particularly elderly family members, with the cost to government?
Anastasia, thank you for the question. A Conservative government will put an end to illegal border crossings and restore the fairness, order and compassion of our immigration system.
Our focus will safeguard and emphasize economic immigration, over family reunification, so newcomers have jobs when they arrive and are filling gaps in the labour market in Canada. Family reunification is important, but addressing needs in the skilled labour market is critical.
We will improve language training to ensure greater success for newcomers.
Finally, we will improve credential recognition and make it easier for new Canadians who have existing skills that meet our standards to work here. Canada loses when doctors, engineers or electricians are not able to practice their profession in Canada.
- Emily, Taber, AB, Student
“How will the government support the transition of older adults to achieve a dignified retirement even if they have a lack of retirement savings, without digging into the next generation’s tax burden?”
Emily, the essence of this is making life more affordable for Canadians. If they have more money in their pockets, they are able to save more.
We will assist seniors, and all Canadians, by scrapping the carbon tax, which makes everything more expensive from fuel, to groceries to heating our homes. In addition, we would remove the GST from home heating and implement our Universal Tax Cut, which would result in savings for all Canadians including seniors who in the lower tax brackets will save up to $850 per year.
In addition, for seniors we will increase the seniors tax credit to $1,000 saving the average senior couple $300 per year.
- Kathryn, Toronto ON, Personal Finance Advisor
“What’s the plan for childcare? It’s so expensive that it often costs as much as what an average woman makes in a month!”
Kathryn, our policy for childcare was the Universal Child Care Benefit we introduced under Prime Minister Harper and the current Liberal government has continued. We will carry on with that program as it is aimed to assist families with childcare.
However, the whole focus of our platform is affordability. Kathryn, my wife and I raised three children as low-income family and for a time lived in co-op housing.
We will reinstitute programs like the Child’s Fitness Tax Credit, Arts and Learning Tax Credit as well as scrap the carbon tax, which makes everything more expensive from fuel, to groceries to heating our homes. We will also remove the GST from home heating. Finally, our Universal Tax Cut will mean savings for all Canadians which, for the average family means a savings of up to $850 per year.
In total, these are substantial savings which will alleviate some of the other expenses hard working Canadian families face.
- Nabeela, Montreal, Student
“What is your stance on unpaid internships?”
Nabeela, personally, I have never hired an unpaid intern, but I do realize in some sectors they do play a role.
- Erin, Calgary, AB , Communications Professional
“Western Canada’s economic downturn has negatively impacted young people and those fresh out of school – how will your government support energy workers out west?”
Erin, thank you for this question. As an Alberta MP this is such a crucial issue and it is not just an Alberta issue, it is a Canadian crisis. The energy sector brings in $14 billion in revenue for the federal government to build roads, hospitals and schools and employs more than 500,000 Canadians.
To support Canada’s energy workers we will repeal the Liberal’s No Pipelines Bill (C-69), the Tanker Ban (C-48) and we will take the emissions fight global by exporting Canadian resources, developed under the most strict environmental standards in the world, to displace oil from the most corrupt regimes in the world like Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
We will also build the national energy corridor so oil and gas can be transported coast to coast and Canada will be energy self-sufficient by 2030.
We need a government that is proud of Canada’s natural resources and the jobs and economic prosperity it creates.
The Conservatives are the only party standing up for Canada’s energy sector.
- Sukhi, Toronto, Non-profit professional
“What steps are you taking to make home ownership more affordable for first time buyers?”
This is a critical issue Sukhi and I cannot imagine how difficult it is to buy that first home in a market like Toronto.
The Liberals ill-conceived mortgage stress test took 250,000 first-time homebuyers out of the market with the stroke of a pen. These are Canadians who qualified for a mortgage one day and not the next.
A Conservative government will fix the mortgage stress test, increase amortization periods on insured mortgages to 30 years making those mortgage payments more affordable, make surplus federal real estate available for development to increase housing supply and work with provinces to reduce regulatory burden which discourages new home construction.
- Ali, Ottawa, ON, Management Consultant
“Canada’s aging demographic is likely to continue to drive Canada to have low interest rates – which could make it difficult in the long run for younger generations to save for retirement. What is the government’s plan to support young Canadians in preparing for a different retirement than their parent’s generation?”
Ali, the essence of this campaign is making life more affordable for Canadians. If they have more money in their pockets, they are able to save more.
We will help all Canadians have more money in your pocket by scrapping the carbon tax, which makes everything more expensive from fuel, to groceries to heating our homes. We will remove the GST from home heating and finally our Universal Tax Cut will mean savings for all Canadians, and the average family will save up to $850 per year.
- Bronwyn, Vancouver, Startup professional
“I know you were previously the Minister of the Status of Women – what has this government done over the past four years to make the economy more gender equitable?”
Bronwyn, I was a member of the Status of Women Committee and I enjoyed the work we did on that committee.
The equality of every single Canadian is a Conservative principle and every Canadian woman should have the chance to succeed in the workplace. A Conservative government believes in equal pay for equal work.
I was proud of some of the initiatives we had under our previous Conservative government including mentorship programs and the Be Her Champion program.