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John Oliver 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 John Oliver's responses to 2015 Federal Election Questionnaire.

John Oliver
Oakville - Liberal 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?

    Investing in infrastructure is vital to creating middle class jobs today and sustained economic growth for years to come. Every dollar spent on public infrastructure grows and makes our economy more competitive, while also creating jobs, strengthening our cities and communities, and improving our health, well-being, and quality of life.

    A Liberal government will provide unprecedented new investments in public transit, social infrastructure and green infrastructure, nearly doubling federal infrastructure investment to $125 billion – from the current $65 billion – over the next decade.

    Each year over the next decade, we will steadily increase federal infrastructure investment. At full implementation, this will represent an annual additional investment of $9.5 billion per year.

    A Liberal government will automatically transfer any uncommitted federal infrastructure funds near the end of any fiscal year to municipalities, through a temporary top-up of the Gas Tax Fund. This will ensure that no committed infrastructure money is allowed to lapse but is instead always invested in communities across the country.
  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?

    Essentially, your question relates to two issues: taking action to address climate change; and being prepared to withstand the effects of climate change.

    Climate change is an immediate and significant threat to our communities and our economy. The provinces and territories recognize the need to act now, but there has been a dearth of federal leadership on climate change over the last decade. We will end the cycle of federal parties – of all stripes – setting arbitrary targets without a real federal/provincial/territorial plan in place.

    With respect to addressing climate change, the Liberal Party will provide national leadership and join with the provinces and territories to take action on climate change, put a price on carbon, and reduce carbon pollution. We will partner with provincial and territorial leaders to develop real climate change solutions, consistent with our international obligations to protect the planet, all while growing our economy. Together, we will attend the Paris climate conference, and within 90 days formally meet to establish a pan-Canadian framework for combating climate change.

    We will work together to establish national emissions-reduction targets, and ensure that the provinces and territories have targeted federal funding and the flexibility to design their own policies to meet these commitments, including their own carbon pricing policies.

    These targets must recognise the economic cost and catastrophic impact that a greater-than-two-degree increase in average global temperatures would represent, as well as the need for Canada to do its part to prevent that from happening.

    Partnering with the provinces and territories, we will create a new Low Carbon Economy Trust. The Trust will provide funding to projects that materially reduce carbon emissions under the new pan-Canadian framework. We will endow the Low Carbon Economy Trust with $2 billion in our mandate.

    With respect to preparing to withstand the effects of climate change, the Liberal Party will invest in sustainable infrastructure that makes our communities safer and more resilient.

    Responsible governments do not walk away from challenges, or pretend they do not exist. We will protect our communities from the challenges of climate change and grow our economy by making significant new investments in green infrastructure.

    This includes investments in local water and wastewater facilities; clean energy; climate resilient infrastructure, including flood mitigation systems; and infrastructure to protect against changing weather.
  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?

    Liberals understand that affordable housing is part of the solution to many of the challenges facing our communities. Better housing can make a meaningful impact on child poverty, high student debt, and retirement security for seniors. It can also provide much-needed stability to people with serious health, mental health, and addiction conditions.

    Tackling the housing shortage requires collaborative planning between orders of government and sustained funding. A Liberal government will invest in a National Housing Strategy that makes direct investments in affordable housing, provides tax incentives to expand affordable rental housing, improves data collection, reviews policies on housing in high-priced markets, and offers more flexibility for new home buyers.

      • The Liberal Party of Canada will make it easier for Canadians to find an affordable place to call home through the following strategies:
      • As part of our new, ten-year investment of nearly $20 billion in social infrastructure, we will prioritize significant new investment in affordable housing and seniors facilities. This investment will renew federal leadership in housing, help build more housing units and refurbish existing ones, renew current co-operative agreements, and provide operational funding support for municipalities, including renewing support for Housing First initiatives that help homeless Canadians find stable housing.
      • We will increase the new residential rental property rebate on the GST to 100 percent, eliminating all GST on new capital investments in affordable rental housing. This will end the tax penalty on developers interested in building new, modestly priced rental properties, as well as provide $125 million per year in tax incentives to increase and substantially renovate the supply of rental housing across Canada.
      • We will direct the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the new Canada Infrastructure Bank to provide financing to support construction by the private sector, social enterprises, coops, and the not-for-profit sector of new, affordable rental housing for middle- and low-income Canadians.
      • We will conduct an inventory of all available federal lands and buildings that could be repurposed, and make some of these available at low cost for affordable housing in communities where there is a pressing need. This work would be done in partnership with municipalities, provinces, and territories as they develop their urban growth plans.
      • We will modernize the existing Home Buyers’ Plan so that it helps more Canadians finance the purchase of a home. We will allow Canadians impacted by sudden and significant life changes, such as job relocation, the death of a spouse, marital breakdown, or a decision to accommodate an elderly family member, to access the program and use money from their Registered Retirement Savings Plan to buy a house without tax penalty.

  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?

    Canada’s economic success relies on strong trade relationships with our closest neighbours: the United States and Mexico. The Liberal Party will renew and repair our relationships with our North American partners. As a first step, we will immediately lift the Mexican visa requirement that unfairly restricts travel to Canada, and commit to rescheduling and hosting a new trilateral leaders’ summit with the United States and Mexico.

    We will work with the United States and Mexico to develop a continent-wide clean energy and environment agreement.

    Because Canada relies on international trade to create jobs and grow our economy, we will work to reduce the barriers that limit trade. With a re-focused Building Canada Fund, we will promote a steadier flow of goods and business travellers by modernizing border infrastructure and streamlining cargo inspections.

    The Liberal Party platform also includes plans for getting Canadian goods to market. We will expand export opportunities that benefit Canada.

    Trade is vital for our economy. It opens markets, grows Canadian businesses, and creates good-paying middle class jobs – jobs that pay wages that are 50 percent higher than industries that are not export intensive. That is good news for the middle class and the communities they call home.

    Properly negotiated and implemented, free trade agreements are good for the Canadian economy. We will carefully consider all trade opportunities currently open to Canada, and explore deeper trade relationships with emerging and established markets, including China and India. We will develop a new export promotion strategy that will help businesses take advantage of new trade agreements.
  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?

    Within the first 100 days of being elected, a Liberal government will initiate ministerial meetings with provinces, territories, and Indigenous Peoples to create a new National Early Learning and Child Care Framework.

    This plan will be administered as part of our new social infrastructure investment of nearly $20 billion over the next ten years, and achieved in collaboration with—and in respect of—provincial jurisdiction.

    We will not impose pre-determined costs or models on other orders of government, but instead we will work collaboratively with each of them on funding agreements using research, evidence-based policy, and best practices in the delivery of early learning and child care.

    Our framework will build on the progress that provinces and territories have made in the absence of federal leadership and allow them to move further in providing more affordable, accessible, inclusive, high-quality child care and early learning, which considers the diverse needs of all children in Canada.

    In addition to this child care strategy, our new Canada Child Benefit will help families will the high costs of raising their children. With the Canada Child Benefit, nine out of ten Canadian families will receive more than under the current government's confusing collection of child benefit programs. For the typical family of four, that means an additional $2,500 in help, tax-free, every year. This benefit could be used to defray the costs of child care.

    Because the Canada Child Benefit is tax-free and tied to income, it also provides greater support to those who need help the most: single-parent families and low-income families. Our plan will lift 315,000 Canadian children out of poverty.
  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?

    I understand the need to involve multiple levels of government to resolve some of the pressing issues we face. Canadians should expect their elected representatives to work collaboratively and cooperatively together to find and implement timely solutions.

    This collaborative approach is evident throughout the Liberal Party platform, including policies such:

      • Affordable housing: We will work in partnership with municipalities, provinces and territories to identify how federal lands and buildings could be repurposed to address pressing needs for affordable housing.
      • Transit infrastructure: Our funding for public transit infrastructure will be flexible to address municipalities’ priorities and requirements.

    In addition, the Liberal Party understands that comprehensive, current data is needed to support the decisions made by the Region and all levels of government. We will make Statistics Canada fully independent with a mandate to collect data needed to support good decision-making. We will consult broadly and work with a strengthened Statistics Canada to make available additional data needed by businesses, municipalities, the not-for-profit sector, and the public. This would include more detailed labour market information, child development data, and statistics on natural capital. We will also immediately restore the mandatory long-form census.
  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?

    Upon entering political life, I made a commitment to be the voice of Oakville in Ottawa, not the other way around. I intend to honour that commitment by keeping the channels of communication open with my constituents and key stakeholders in Oakville, and by bringing forward their concerns to Parliament.

    Fortunately, the Liberal Party of Canada sees this as an important element of democracy that it will seek to restore. We recognize that Canadians need to have more faith in their government’s honesty and willingness to listen, and they need to believe that the government of Canada is genuinely interested in working with them to solve real problems. As part of our Open Government plan, Justin Trudeau has pledged to allow Liberal MPs to vote freely, except under three conditions: when implementing the Liberal electoral platform; on traditional confidence matters such as the Speech from the Throne; and when addressing the values embodied in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.