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Jane McKenna 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 Jane McKenna's responses to 2014 Provincial Election Questionnaire.

Jane McKenna

Jane McKenna
Burlington - Conservative
website (external)

  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?

    Ontario PCs are committed to fixing the GTA’s chronic transit and transportation problems, enhancing service levels and forging stronger transit and transportation connections while also improving the coordination and integration of regional modes. We will put the province in charge of all rail-based transit and major highways in the GTA and do it without raising taxes, by making transit the top priority in the province’s existing annual $12-billion capital budget. To date, $46 billion has been spent on wind and solar subsidies that have been part of the Liberal government’s disastrous energy policy. That money could have paid for almost all 25 years of The Big Move. It comes down to practical priorities. Implementing two-way all-day GO service and expanding rush hour service would be a key first-year deliverable.
  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?

    Ontario’s fastest-growing regions – like Milton – are unfortunately some of the province’s most underserved communities. Spending on schools and social services often lags behind the growth curve. That must change. Legislating growth targets is one thing. Supporting that growth with infrastructure investment is another. We have already proposed a policy called Schools First that would accelerate construction of new schools in suburban areas, so that children don’t have to be bused out of their neighbourhoods or spend years in portables. In order to make complete communities, we would also work with cities to advance construction of recreation and cultural facilities like parks, libraries and sports fields in the short-term so that they can better serve both emerging suburban communities and increasingly dense downtowns.
  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?

    Education is the most crucial advantage we can give to our children, and we have to do better if we want to give our children a fair chance to succeed in an increasingly competitive world. Ontario PCs would place renewed emphasis on science and math education. The government’s own data shows that in 300 elementary schools, less than half of students are passing provincial tests. We will invest some of the savings we achieve elsewhere in the budget in extra support for schools that are struggling as well as students with special needs.
  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?

    In the run-up to the 2011 election, Ontario Liberals promised that they would not be moving forward with the NGTA highway. Less than a year later, local officials discovered that the Ministry of Transportation had simply relocated the escarpment-crossing segment of the highway, and continued to plan the highway in defiance of the clear and repeated opinion of the residents and leaders of Halton Region. That approach is disrespectful and deceptive and I have argued the Region’s case directly to the Minister of Transportation. Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak has proposed a new highway corridor running from Hamilton International Airport to the Peace Bridge at Fort Erie. I have consistently and repeatedly expressed my position against any new highway crossing through Halton – especially any option that would cut through the Niagara Escarpment – and I will continue to do so.

  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?

    Progressive, density-minded development will help ease the financial impact of population growth. The Planning Act gives municipalities policy tools like Sections 37 and 42 of the act ¬that can be used to better meet growth targets described in the Provincial Growth Plan. It is important that we dedicate ourselves to sustainable growth to ensure long-term prosperity. As part of that, Ontario PCs would commit to changing Ontario’s arbitration system, so that labour deals for police, fire and city employees take into account municipalities’ ability to pay. This is in keeping with the Ontario PCs’ Public Sector Capacity to Pay Act – endorsed by the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO), welcomed by the Large Urban Mayor’s Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO) and in line with concerns voiced by mayors across this province including Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring. That Public Sector Capacity to Pay Act was ultimately defeated by the Liberal-NDP voting bloc, but it remains a priority of Ontario PCs. It comes down to fairness and openness: We believe that taxpayers deserve to see how decisions are arrived at and how those decisions impact their community.
  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?

    Elimination of the 10% discount has been proposed by a number of councils like Halton Region. Municipalities want improved ability to recover all capital costs for services, and pay for vital infrastructure by doing so. Developers and contractors want increased accountability and transparency as well. Including all municipally funded services in development charges is an ambitious target, but reforms such as these have been proposed for the last few years and more have been expressed as part of the recent review of the Development Charges Act. It is important that legislators revisit the Act to ensure that the system serves the diverse needs of our communities and supports sustainable growth.
  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?

    In terms of rental units, Ontario PCs support engaging in public-private partnerships that would help build future affordable housing. The private sector would finance, build and manage new affordable housing units for long-term contracts. The government would guarantee rents to make projects viable. Tenants of affordable housing units would be income-tested (with some tenants paying market rents and others rent geared-to-income), thereby promoting a healthy social and economic mix. As for home ownership, non-government organizations like Habitat for Humanity have a solid track record of successfully building safe, quality homes that are sold to low-income families who would otherwise find home ownership impossible. Ontario PCs would dedicate a portion of the provincial budget to proven performers in this sector, partnering on initiatives that help strengthen Ontario’s social fabric and improve life outcomes.
  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?

    An Ontario PC government will make the patient – not bureaucracies, not administrators – the focus of our health care system. Under this Liberal government, we’ve seen too many health care dollars wasted on scandals like eHealth and Ornge or to top-heavy bureaucracy like the LHINs. That must change. Fiscal responsibility is important to making sure that vital services are properly funded. The provincial debt has doubled over the last decade, and the interest payments on that debt are taking away money we need for the things we value most. We currently spend $11 billion a year on debt interest. Every percentage point increase in rates will add an extra $3 billion annually in interest payments, and the Ministry of Finance itself says interest rates will soon skyrocket. By 2018 we could be paying $20 billion annually on interest payments. To put that in perspective, Ontario spends around $25 billion a year on education and $50 billion a year on health care. Any government that truly cares about protecting priorities like health care and education cannot afford to indulge in magical thinking. In order to protect our future, substantial structural changes must be made today.
  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?

    Again, better and more effective use of operating funds within the health care system, and placing the patient at the centre of decisions, will mean more resources are available for reducing pressure inside primary care facilities like Joseph Brant Hospital, including interim enhancements to the Central Ambulance Communications Centre. We will also create chronic care centres of excellence and increase home-based care, meaning people aren’t forced hospital unnecessarily. That means bed capacity will be there for those who need it most and that offloading delays are minimized.
  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?

    Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak has indicated that if elected to government that Ontario PCs would continue to pay for programs that have already been uploaded back onto the province’s books.
  11. Are you willing to vote against your party’s platform on issues that negatively affect Halton Region?

    I serve all the people of the riding of Burlington, regardless of political affiliation. The interests of Halton Region are obviously larger and more complex than those of Burlington alone, but I cannot foresee any issues that would prevent me from voting with similar loyalty.