Try the new

Adnan Shahbaz Reponses to 2015 Federal Election Questionnaire

On October 19, 2015 Halton voters will cast their ballot for local Federal 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 Adnan Shahbaz's responses to 2015 Federal Election Questionnaire.

Adnan Shahbaz

Adnan Shahbaz
Oakville North-Burlington - Green Party of Canada

  1. Currently, the federal government does not provide sustained, long-term investment into Halton’s municipal infrastructure. Improving our roads, bridges, water and wastewater systems is one of the best ways to create local jobs, keep goods moving, help businesses succeed and maintain a high quality of life for the growing Halton community. By 2031, the infrastructure needs in Halton (including state-of-good-repair programs) are expected to reach approximately $5.6 billion.

    What would you and your government do to ensure a long-term, predictable and sustainable investment in local infrastructure to ensure that Halton residents are not burdened with the cost of growth?

    Due to neglect, our massive municipal infrastructure deficit is now estimated at $123 billion. The federal government must find innovative financing solutions to our infrastructure problems, to ensure Canada reaps the enormous economic and employment benefits that will come with building and maintaining world class infrastructure.

    The Green Party has a longterm vision to create good local jobs, and build vibrant, safe, and livable Canadian towns and cities. We will invest an additional $6.4 billion in infrastructure to combat the infrastructure deficit. Through the Council of Canadian Governments, municipalities will be full partners in allocating the funding in this infrastructure program, including transit expansion, streets, parks, water systems, schools, and community centres.

    We would also establish a federal Infrastructure Bank as an independent Crown Corporation to provide low interest loans to municipalities for community brownfield remediation, water and waste treatment facilities, sports, cultural and recreational facilities, public transit, cycling and pedestrian promotion, and community housing. As long as the Infrastructure Bank recouped its borrowing and administrative costs, there would be no incremental impact on the federal government’s budgetary balance. Infrastructure requires long term planning, and all governments must collaborate to come up with workable approaches to the massive investment required.
  2. Weather patterns have changed over the past few decades negatively impacting many communities including Halton Region which have seen an increase in severe weather events such as extended heat waves, torrential rain and ice storms. Without provincial and federal best practices and investment, municipalities are required to manage the social, economic, infrastructure, environmental and health-related consequences of climate change in the community, often at a very high cost. Long-term, sustainable funding is required for municipalities to improve community resilience and to reduce the severity of future climate change effects.

    What would you and your government do to help municipalities adapt and respond to climate change?

    We need to combat climate change head-on by introducing programs that are targeted, realistic and proactive. Carbon pricing, Cap Fee and Dividend and polluter pays are just some of the market driven mechanisms that we can use to combat climate change. Also supporting and enhancing green energy, technology and incentivizing the transition to a post-carbon world are ways that we can be ahead of future disasters.

    However, Canada is already experiencing more frequent extreme weather events, as a consequence of accelerating climate change arising from our dependence on fossil fuels. In the face of increasingly frequent disasters, Canada is unprepared to respond. Cutting federal funding for disaster assistance is not the way to meet this challenge. We need federal leadership and coordination to be able to effectively respond to future disasters. A Council of Canadian Governments will bring all levels of government together to develop a comprehensive National Strategy for Disaster Preparedness, to ensure that Canadian cities and towns are prepared to respond in the future. These life or death scenarios cannot be left to a patchwork response system.

    Our federal government must ensure an emergency response system that is proactive, comprehensive and long term, one that efficiently and effectively coordinates key emergency management players at all levels of government with a wide range of stakeholders. The federal government must support collaborative and cost sharing approaches to ensure adequate funding and strengthen community capacity building and preparedness. Our federal government must return to the business of supporting comprehensive municipal, territorial, and provincial emergency preparedness plans. Such measures include providing public education and training programs; fast tracking the seismic upgrading of public buildings such as hospitals, schools, and fire halls; improving local emergency infrastructure, such as adequate tsunami warning systems, civil defense sirens and other communication systems; clear marking of emergency evacuation routes; and ensuring the means to supply essential services such as medical services, energy supplies, food and water.

    We must also undertake budgetary planning for post disaster recovery. The federal government has a responsibility to provide stable and predictable funding, and lead a coordinated response to disaster assistance in Canada. In addition, all sectors need to be prepared for the impacts of a changing climate. We need, in conjunction with provinces, territories, municipalities, and Indigenous governments, to implement a comprehensive adaptation strategy to prepare our cities, agriculture, forestry, the fishery, our health care systems and all vulnerable aspects of our society to the impacts of climate change we can no longer avoid. The Green Party will invest in comprehensive response plans for flooding and other extreme weather events to bring Canadian disaster readiness up to world class standards, so we can more ably respond to the extreme weather events that are becoming more common as the climate changes
  3. The provision of safe, affordable, accessible housing is a critical component of fostering healthy communities. Municipalities across the country are actively working to make communities livable for everyone by ensuring access to housing for newcomers, young people, the middle class and seniors. For too many Halton residents, affordable homeownership remains out of reach. As Canadian municipalities are unable to keep up with the demand for affordable housing options, there is a clear need for long-term predictable funding and a national housing strategy to improve the lives of residents and strengthen communities.

    How would you and your government support increased affordable and assisted housing in Halton Region? What would you do to move the creation of a national housing strategy forward?

    The Green Party is committed to affordable housing. Access to affordable, safe, and secure housing is an essential prerequisite to an equitable society. However, Canada is the only country in the OECD without a National Housing Strategy. Housing crosses all jurisdictions. The Green Party will work with the Council of Canadian Governments and stakeholders to develop a comprehensive National Housing Strategy.

    The National Housing Strategy will:
      • Include concrete steps for a seniors’ housing plan, a First Nations plan, a plan for social housing, and for affordable market housing;
      • Create a Housing First Approach, a one on one outreach initiative that houses chronically homeless people and provides immediate support;
      • Dedicate funding to the cooperative housing sector to enable more new affordable housing projects to proceed, while extending funding for coops whose contracts with the federal government are expiring;
      • Retrofit all Canadian homes by 2030 to increase energy efficiency, cut heating and electricity bills, and reduce 80% of building emissions by 2040;
      • Implement a Guaranteed Livable Income to help low income Canadians afford housing
      • Eliminate Stephen Harper’s Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program, which currently allows foreign investors to purchase Canadian properties and can drive housing prices up for Canadian families beyond their reach;
      • Increase access to social housing for First Nations on and off reserve, while strengthening enforcement of living and maintenance standards through our proposed Council of Canadian Governments; and
      • Ensure a percentage of all newly built units are reserved for affordable housing.
    The Green Party is committed to stable and adequate annual funding for the construction of new rental housing. Our target is the construction of 20,000 new and 8,000 rehabilitated affordable housing units each year for the next decade.

    To support home ownership, we also support indexing the GST New Home Rebate to inflation. Inflation has eroded this rebate to the point where too many no longer qualify for a full rebate. It no longer fulfils its purpose of helping new home buyers. Buying a home is turning into a pipe dream, especially for young families. The federal government promised to do its part to help maintain affordability. It is only fair to keep that promise. The Green Party also supports indexing the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan to the Consumer Price Index in $2,500 increments, to make sure that it remains a useful tool for people buying their first homes. We will work to ensure that mortgage amortization rates meet the needs of home buyers. We will also consider broadening the eligibility for the HBP to include individuals who have experienced a life changing event such as the death of a spouse or marital breakdown.
  4. Economic development and job creation continue to be priority issues facing Canadian municipalities including Halton Region. While all levels of government are working to create jobs and grow the economy, more must be done. Halton continues to be an economic hotspot where businesses choose to locate as a result of our competitive taxes, strong financial position and high quality of life. In addition, Halton’s successful Economic Development Strategy has been working to meet mandated provincial employment targets to achieve sustainable economic prosperity.

    How would you and your government assist Halton in creating the right climate for economic growth and job creation? What would you and your government do to spur innovation in Canadian businesses to help them become more globally oriented?

    Small businesses and the Canadians who own them are the central driver of our economy. They create more jobs than any other part of our economy. And those incomes and profits remain in the community, providing stable employment. As an added bonus, their flexible nature allows them to respond to environmental and market demands well before large corporations take action.

    Putting Canadian small businesses first means reducing red tape for small business owners and enacting “Think Small First” legislation to ensure that new federal laws and regulations enhance, rather than hinder, an economic environment where local businesses and entrepreneurs can thrive.

    We will create federally-funded $1 billion per year Green Technology Commercialization Grants to accelerate emerging technologies and give Canadian entrepreneurs a head start. By facilitating increased access to earlystage financing, the Green Technology Commercialization Grant will help our entrepreneurs compete internationally. It will help good ideas and emerging technology get to market, growing our sustainable economy and creating good local jobs and opportunities in our communities. We would also lower the small business tax rate 2%.
  5. Currently, Halton region has a population of more than 500,000 and it is expected to meet mandated growth targets of 780,000 by the year 2031. The Town of Milton continues to be the fastest growing community in Canada and the Greater Toronto Area with a population that increased by 56.6 per cent between 2006 and 2011. The amount of children aged zero to four in Halton has also continued to increase each year, creating a significant need for childcare and early learning programs. For many households, childcare continues to be the second-largest expense after housing. In addition to high fees, there are simply not enough spaces to meet the demand for childcare in the Halton community. As a result, many Halton families continue to struggle to find affordable, quality childcare options for their young children.

    How would you and your government ensure that there are more affordable and accessible early learning and childcare spaces available to match Halton’s growing population?

    We will work with the provinces, territories and Indigenous communities to establish accessible, convenient, enriched and affordable child care spaces for any Canadian family that seeks it. We will support women to reenter the workforce whenever they choose after having children. The Green Party believes that workplace childcare has many advantages – enhanced parenting time and access to children through the work day, extension of breastfeeding opportunities, improved employee productivity, and improving the convenience of public transport when parents and kids share their morning destination. Tax breaks to employers for the creation of child care spaces is one tool among many we will use to ensure that families have the spaces they need.

    Several provinces have gone it alone in designing innovative programs that work for their populations. Quebec has $7aday daycare (now on a sliding scale up to $20 a day depending on income). Ontario is moving towards full day kindergarten for 4 and 5 year olds. We will ramp up to $1 billion a year to support existing and new programs that would be cost shared with the provinces.

    In addition, we support phasing out the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) and allocating the funds to federal support for a substantial increase in the number of regulated affordable child care spaces (the net cost of the UCCB will be approximately $6.7 billion by 20172018). Among other things, the Green Party goal is to negotiate with the provinces and territories to ensure that Canada collectively provides regulated child care spaces for 70 % of children age 6 or younger with working parents, instead of the mere 22.5% provided now.
  6. Halton Region continues to partner with all levels of government to find solutions to the pressing issues facing the Region. Continued dialogue and consultation with all levels of government is required to ensure the Region’s voice is heard on matters that will directly impact the Region and Halton residents.

    How will you and your government involve the Region as partners on federal matters that have a direct impact on the Region and Halton residents?

    Canada’s success has always depended on people working together. We are a country of vast geography and distinct regions. Good and effective government in Canada depends on bringing people together with a shared sense of purpose. In an era of global insecurity, it is more important than ever that we work together here at home.

    In the 21st century, we need to reinvent the way we work as a federation. We need to work together to develop national goals and national strategies. To this end, we will create a Council of Canadian Governments to address shared challenges and ensure more effective collaboration between the various levels of government in Canada – federal, provincial/territorial, municipal/local, and First Nations, Metis and Inuit.

    Chaired by the federal government, the Council will regularly bring together the provinces and territories, municipal governments, and Indigenous leadership to ensure constructive collaboration to find real solutions for the problems that concern all Canadians from security to infrastructure to health care. In order to make progress on these critical issues, it is important that all levels of government are pulling in the same direction. With a transparent process, a published agenda and a clear path to set in place national strategies – on energy, transportation, culture, health care, and climate.
  7. As federal matters impacting Halton Region arise, will you follow your party’s line, or will you choose to represent the wishes of your constituents and potentially vote against your party?

    The Green Party is the only party committed to ending whipped votes. MPs from the other parties in Parliament routinely face whipped votes – they must vote the party line or face punishments, such as not being allowed to speak in the House or even being thrown out of the party. No Green MP will ever face a whipped vote. They will be free to put their conscience and their constituents first.

    That is the commitment Green candidates make, I make, to be your voice in Ottawa, your local champion.