2014 Provincial Election Questionnaire to Halton's Candidates

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.

Infrastructure

In order to accommodate the growth mandated by the Provincial Places to Grow Plan, Halton requires adequately funded community infrastructure. Investments in transportation (including highways), schools and hospitals are necessary to meet the needs of our growing community. Transportation continues to be the number one issue of importance to Halton residents. Halton Region has invested a significant amount of money into our infrastructure to ensure that people and goods are able to move around and through the Region efficiently, but we cannot do it alone.

  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?
  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?
  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?

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.

  1. 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

Costs associated with growth

Halton Region is a rapidly growing community with over 20 years of experience in sound growth and financial management, which has contributed to us maintaining an AAA credit rating since the early 1990s. Despite our strong fiscal position, accommodating growth continues to be the primary challenge faced by Halton Region. The magnitude and timing of funding required to support the Provincial Growth Plan and the resulting infrastructure requirements are enormous challenges.

  1. 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?
  2. 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?

Housing

Halton Region recognizes that the provision of safe, affordable, accessible housing is a critical component of fostering healthy communities. Housing is a joint responsibility that must be delivered with a commitment of long-term predictable funding from all levels of government.

  1. 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?

Public Health and cost sharing agreements

Halton Region continues to experience funding shortfalls in our cost shared programs with the Provincial Government in the areas of Public Health and Paramedic Services. The resulting funding shortfall in 2013 is $8.7 million. The below chart demonstrates the funding shortfall:

Provincial Responsibility 2014 Provincial Funding Share 2104 Provincial Funding Shortfall
Cost-Shared Programs 75% 61% 14%
Provincially-funded Programs 100% 68% 32%
Paramedic Services 50% 47% 3%

Halton taxpayers are funding a provincial shortfall for Public Health of $6.9 million, annually.

  1. 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?

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.

  1. 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?

Other

  1. 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?
  2. Are you willing to vote against your party's platform on issues that negatively affect Halton Region?