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Pam Damoff 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 Pam Damoff's responses to 2015 Federal Election Questionnaire.

Pam Damoff
Oakville North-Burlington - 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?

    For Canadian communities to succeed, funding for infrastructure will need to be substantive, predictable, and sustained. A Liberal government will not only significantly increase the scale of federal transit investment; the plan will provide provinces, territories, and municipalities with an unprecedented level of long-term predictability in funding as well. This will be done in full respect of provincial jurisdiction.

    This historic, new influx of federal money into public transportation projects – along with the money committed directly to public transit in Budget 2015 – will allow the existing New Building Canada Fund to focus more on other parts of Canada’s vital transportation system, such as roads and bridges.

    Investing in a sustainable future is a critical priority for the Liberal Party of Canada. We are committed to growing the economy and middle class incomes. As part of that commitment funding to municipalities will quadruple to $6 billion over the next four years, and to almost $20 billion over ten years. A Liberal government will develop bilateral agreements with the provinces and territories, similar to those created for the successful gas tax transfer to cities and communities.

    To help foster innovative business strategies, The Liberal Party of Canada will create a new Canada Infrastructure Bank to provide financing at affordable rates to municipalities and other partners investing in new infrastructure projects. We believe that municipalities need these initiatives to plan for and have the infrastructure for growth to occur.

    We will make sure that no money intended for investment in communities is allowed to lapse.

    Too often, Stephen Harper budgeted funds for use in our communities, then let those dollars go unspent. We will make sure our communities are not shortchanged.

    Near the end of the fiscal year, we will automatically transfer any uncommitted federal infrastructure funds 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 our communities."
  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?

    The environment and climate change are foremost priorities for me and a Liberal government. To ensure a safe, clean and predictable future for next generations, a Liberal government will provide dedicated funding to invest in a broad range of projects, including but not limited to: local water and wastewater facilities, climate resilient infrastructure, clean energy, and clean-up of contaminated sites to facilitate new construction.

    A Liberal government will also support efforts to prepare for changing weather patterns, such as: improved storm water systems to diminish the impact of urban floods, the reinforcement of energy systems in the face of possible ice storms, and the reinforcement of infrastructure to confront melting permafrost in our North that will impact all communities in Canada. These and other efforts will be undertaken in partnership with other orders of government and based on the best available science. Under Justin Trudeau’s leadership, Canada will boost investment in green infrastructure by nearly $6 billion over the next four years, and almost $20 billion over ten years.
  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?

    If elected, a Liberal government would propose a renewed federal role in housing, including investments in innovative programs for supportive housing and predictable and sustained new funding for affordable housing. Accordingly, part of our new ten-year investment of nearly $20 billion in social infrastructure will be prioritized for significant new funding in affordable housing and seniors facilities. To further encourage the construction of more retail housing, we will increase the new residential retail property rebate on the GST to 100%, eliminating all GST on new capital investments in affordable rental housing. We will also direct the CMHC and the new Canada Infrastructure Bank to provide financing to support construction of new affordable rental housing.

    Other measures we will implement to increase access to housing will include making surplus federal land available for affordable housing at low cost, modernizing the Home Buyers’ Plan to allow Canadians impacted by sudden and significant life changes to access money from their RRSPs to buy a house without facing tax penalties, and undertake a review of home prices in high-priced markets such as the GTA to determine whether speculation is driving up the cost of housing and, if so, investigate policy tools available to keep home ownership within reach for average Canadians.
  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?

    The Liberal Party of Canada is going to take the bold steps needed to build ambitiously and grow Canada’s economy. In light of today’s low interest rates and low debt-to-GDP ratio, Canada’s aging infrastructure, and the need for an immediate boost in economic growth, now is the time to invest in Canada’s future by spending to restore and expand our infrastructure. That’s why we have promised to double federal infrastructure investment by adding an additional $60 billion in new investment over the next ten years, starting with an immediate doubling of federal infrastructure investment from $5 billion to $10 billion in each of the next two years. This new funding will be focused on three areas critical to getting Canadians moving, ensuring we can care for the most vulnerable among us, and ensuring the health of the earth for generations to come – public transit infrastructure, social infrastructure, and green infrastructure. We will help communities like Halton build the transit they need to get people home from work in time for dinner, the community centres, daycare facilities, and seniors’ residences they need, and protect themselves from events like last year’s ice storms and floods. These investments will spur economic growth, create new jobs, and grow Canada’s economy.

    Economic growth also comes from our companies and investors engaging in projects outside Canada’s borders. That is why we will work to strengthen our ties with burgeoning global markets in Asia and Africa, improve border infrastructure, streamline cargo movement, reschedule and host a new trilateral summit with the United State and Mexico to restore cooperation with two of our largest trading partners, creating a Cabinet committee to oversee our relationships with the United States, and giving our diplomats the mandate and resources they need to do their jobs well.

    To ensure Canadian businesses have the skilled workers they need to innovate and succeed in the 21st century marketplace, we will invest $1.3 billion over three years (13 times more than the NDP has promised) to create jobs and opportunity for young Canadians, including more apprenticeships and more science & engineering co-op placements. At the same time, we will increase investment in skills training by $750 million per year, restoring the short-sighted cuts made by the Harper government.

    Our commitment to the environment and investment in clean technology will encourage the types of business that are already calling Halton home, like Siemens, Algonquin Power and others.

    It is through these critical investments that the Liberal Party of Canada will support the creation of new jobs and the growth of our economy.
  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?

    The Liberal Party of Canada is committed to making childcare more affordable for middle class families and will do so by providing families with a Canada Child Benefit (CCB). Families, with children, that have annual incomes below $150,000 (9 out of 10 families) will receive more in monthly child benefit payments than under the current system. The benefit amount will be geared to income so that families who need it more, will get more. A typical two-parent family, with two kids, earning $90,000 per year will get $490 tax-free every month.

    Further, all Canadians with taxable income over $44,700 will see their income tax rate fall; income earned between $44,700 and $89,401 will be subject to a reduced tax rate from 22 percent to 20.5 percent – a 7 percent reduction. This tax relief is worth up to $670 per year, per person – or $1,340 per year for a two-income household.

    These initiatives will help middle class Canadian families afford the child care they need.
  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?

    Justin Trudeau has committed to holding regular meetings with municipal leaders. All of the Liberal Party policies have an over-riding theme – that of partnership between the federal, provincial and municipal government. As a municipal councillor myself, I know that the delivery of services at the municipal level relies on a federal partner who not only understands what is required, but is also prepared to work with the province and municipalities to deliver.

    In terms of consultation, this has been lacking on several issues in this area and communication between the federal government departments and the Region needs to be improved. Consultation after a decision is made is not consultation. We recently saw this with Canada Post and the change to Community Mailboxes in Oakville. I recognize the issue and will work to ensure the consultation process is more open and transparent.
  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?

    Liberal Caucus members in a government led by Justin Trudeau will be allowed to vote freely except on only three different measures: those that implement the Liberal electoral platform; traditional confidence matters such as the Speech from the Throne and significant budgetary measures; and those that address the shared values embodied in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    This is one of the reasons that I chose to join Team Trudeau. I believe that I should be the constituents’ voice in Ottawa and not the government’s voice in our community. I have represented my community on council for 5 years and I have always listened to the voices of my constituents and brought their ideas and concerns forward. I am committed to continuing this work as a federal Member of Parliament. While I have committed to voting with my Caucus on the three measures set out above, I am equally committed to voting against my party if doing so better represents my constituents.

    For Parliament to work best, its members must be free to do what they have been elected to do: represent their communities in Parliament and hold the government to account.