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Andrew Brannan's Responses to 2014 Provincial Election Questionnaire

On June 12, 2014 Halton voters will cast their ballot for local Provincial candidates. On behalf of Halton residents, Regional Chair Gary Carr has sent a letter and questionnaire to Halton’s candidates asking for their positions on a number of issues of critical importance to Halton Region.

The following are Andrew Brannan's responses to 2014 Provincial Election Questionnaire.

Andrew Brannan
Burlington - Freedom

  1. Halton Region requests that the Provincial Government provide predictable funding to keep Halton moving and deliver on committed projects through the Metrolinx Plan, The Big Move, including all day GO service to Milton and Georgetown, and the electrification of the Lakeshore GO line, to meet the transportation needs of our growing community. What will you and your government do to ensure that Halton’s Metrolinx projects are delivered within the next 5 years?

    All contracts for funding and construction currently in place will be upheld; it is inconceivable to me why any delay beyond 5 years should be permitted. Since Freedom Party is the only party with a balanced budget fiscal plan for the province (external link) a perfunctory glance of Halton’s infrastructure demands seem like a pittance in the face of a nearly $10 billion deficit that all the other parties are complicit in creating. Freedom Party could balance today by dealing with the fiscal black hole called OHIP. What’s a few hundred million here or there for infrastructure?
  2. What will your government do to ensure that Halton’s growing communities have the necessary community infrastructure, such as schools and health care facilities, in place to keep pace with the growth?

    Offloading a significant portion of the public infrastructure demand for healthcare completely into the hands of the private sector is a good place to start. Hospital construction and expansion is a quagmire. But retirement homes can sprout up as demand increases. And its too bad retirement homes are prohibited from managing more complex care.

    I would get busy pushing for the legislative changes necessary to bring about health care freedom: a retirement home that already hires nurses and aides ought to be able to manage health issues without fear of violating a provincial statutory ban on the provision of private healthcare. Why should non-profit hospitals be burdened when the care could be provided elsewhere for the growing cohort of elderly people with multiple comorbidities?

    It bears repeating: healthcare consumes the majority of all provincial tax revenue and yet infrastructure for healthcare remains woefully inadequate. The public cost of building schools and roads is minute in comparison to the construction and maintenance of healthcare infrastructure and the facilities’ staffing demands.

  3. Halton’s school boards receive the lowest per capital funding in the Province and they have recently learned that their operating and capital costs are being cut. Being a growing region, particularly in Milton, Canada’s fastest growing community, funding is urgently needed and without it, we will not be able to keep up with the provincial mandated growth. What will you and your government do to increase Halton’s school board’s funding to enable them to meet their students’ needs?

    I work as a nurse in Milton hospital and I commute from Burlington, so I am intimately aware of the region’s growth and I am sympathetic to the maximization of educational opportunity for children, being a father of three. My wife is a teacher employed by Halton. Perhaps there is a conflict of interest in my answering this question, but the truth is that the Halton School Board, like all school boards in Ontario, should be abolished. They serve no function other than perpetuate the bureaucratic morass that is education. All education should be radically decentralized, and the administrators at the school board can get jobs in the productive sector of the economy, instead of wasting resources performing social experiments on our children. Freedom Party has no platform vis a vis school boards, but this is my opinion and it is consistent with the principles of Freedom.

    In 2006, the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe identified the Niagara to GTA transportation corridor, a Provincial highway that would cut through the Niagara Escarpment, the most significant natural landform in Ontario and a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Halton Region strongly opposes the establishment of a new highway crossing through the Niagara Escarpment to address the transportation demand in Niagara and GTA regions.

  4. Will your government move forward with Niagara to GTA transportation corridor? If so, will you commit to voting against any option that impacts the Niagara Escarpment?

    The Niagara Escarpment is is a world biosphere reserve that I enjoy, but I have no idea what “impacts the Niagara Escarpment” even means. What are the variables involved? Contained within your question is the implicit premise that any and all “impact” on nature due to development is wrong, bad, evil, and destructive, hence you are asking such a vague question. The folks at Conservation Halton have long over-stepped their bounds in their stampede to control and manipulate the region’s topography in accordance with their anti-development agenda, and my voice in the legislature will be there to represent the people of Ontario and to protect them and their property rights against government that bullies citizens to take their land to suit government ends, whether to build transportation corridors, or parks and parking lots on the beachway in Burlington.
  5. Halton Region requests funding sources that support the recovery and collection of growth related costs to ensure that Halton’s taxpayers do not bear the financial impacts of growth. What will your government do to ensure this?

    “The financial impacts of growth” are a problem when the region is spending on projects like building parks on the beachway in Burlington, costing tens of millions of dollars, forced on the population in an anti-democratic, anti-property rights fashion. The cost of these projects is enormous and arbitrarily burdens the citizens with the cost. And these projects create no source of legitimate government revenue anyway. Freedom Party disagrees with the provincial government’s historical approach to growth which is to monopolize large infrastructure projects that are funded by taxes and borrowing, operating outside the price-system demands of purely private funding of infrastructure. Ontario is a wasteland of infrastructure boondoggles that are caused by the wasteful monopolies on power generation and distribution, hospitals, roads, etc.
  6. Changes to the Development Charges (DC) Act is necessary to recover growth costs, including: include all services funded by a municipality in the Act, remove the 10 per cent discount for all services, replace the 10 year advantage historic service limits with a service level that is forward looking, remove mandatory exemptions. Will your party amend the DC Act to ensure that taxpayers are not burdened with the costs of growth?

    I have not investigated this issue and Freedom Party does not currently have a position on this. The language of the question is unclear to me, but if I understand correctly, amendments to the DC act that required developers pay directly for their development, rather than burden taxpayers, then it makes sense to avoid socializing the cost of upfront capital cost involved in that development.
  7. Halton Region invests $26 million annually to provide assisted housing options for low income residents and we have had an increase of 894 in affordable/assisted housing units since 2007. What long term funding commitments will you and your government make to create real and affordable housing solutions in Halton?

    Housing solutions come from looking at the problem, which are arbitrary growth restrictions and management that arbitrarily raises the cost of accommodation. Freedom Party would remove all legislative restrictions that prohibit the development of affordable housing in the marketplace. These restrictions include controls on renters to arbitrary costs heaped on developers. The government cannot ameliorate the need for affordable housing by endlessly funding new “affordable housing” projects. Economic growth and prosperity will emerge when fiscal sanity reaches the house of our legislature and the affordability of housing will flow from that, and nothing more.
  8. What will you and you government do to deliver long-term, sustainable funding at the expected (agreed upon) levels of cost sharing for Public Health programs and Paramedic Services?

    In all the hospitals I work(ed) at as a nurse, I see paramedics hanging out, not doing much because they can’t get back into the field due to hospital delays. They are getting paid to hang out in the ER while the diesel engine hums in the parking lot. That’s where some of those millions are evaporating. Note the exorbitant pay and benefits for public health nurses, compared to other public sector employees, including their cohorts in the hospital. This is not to create resentment but look at reality: why are we paying all kinds of people to sit around and not produce very much? Heeding to Freedom Party’s budgetary and related health care reforms is a priority and funding shortfalls for public health will be mitigated by the dramatic reduction in health care related cost burdens. If hospitals weren’t so dysfunctional because of their centrally planned funding mandates, a line up of ambulances creating a smoking crater of wasted Public Health and Paramedic Services funds would not be such a problem. While provincial funding is not keeping pace with growth in Halton, the Province continues to mandate service delivery targets for Public Health Standards and response times for Paramedic Services. Hospital offload delays continue to impact Halton Region. In 2012 there were more than 12,700 hours of offload delays, which represents 11 per cent of the total hours of annual ambulance staffing. Predictable and permanent base funding in order to resolve offloading issues to meet the needs of Halton residents is required.
  9. Will you and your government commit to taking immediate action to address offloading delays and enhancements to the Central Ambulance Communications Centre (CACC) to ensure that Halton residents receive the level of Paramedic Services required to meet their needs? If so, how?

    I am acutely aware of the situation since I work intimately with Emergency Rooms in hospitals. Please see my answer above. The demand for services can only be met adequately in the market place. Treating the ambulance delay time is like putting a band-aid on ruptured Aorta. Many areas of legislation need to be addressed, including the Regulated Health Professionals Act, as all these statutes created barriers to the proper, fluid functioning of a health care system.
  10. Will you and your government honour the 2008 commitment to continue to the upload of social service and court costs until full implementation in 2018?

    I’m not familiar with this issue, but given the moral tone leading the question, I will say I don’t want to dishonour and commitments unless they fly in the face of fiscal sanity which is to start by balancing the budget.
  11. Are you willing to vote against your party’s platform on issues that negatively affect Halton Region?

    I do not know what it means to “negatively affect Halton”. My party would never advance an agenda that negatively affects the individual rights of the residents of Halton Region. The idea of Halton Region as a corporate entity above and more important than the rights of the citizenry is anathema to me and my party.