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Local candidates field questions at Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock meeting

Local candidates tackled a variety of issues at the federal all candidates meeting in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock. The event was held as a hybrid virtual and in-person meeting Thursday night.

Conservative Incumbent Jamie Schmale, Liberal candidate Judi Forbes, New Democrat Zac Miller, the Greens’ Angel Godsoe, Alison Davidson of the People’s Party, and Libertarian Gene Balfour fielded questions for almost two hours.

Schmale says the Conservatives would double the amount of healthcare funding going to provinces, totalling about $60 billion over the next 10 years. He says the extra funds would help provinces target those without existing coverage for medication and dental.

Forbes says the Liberals have been working to establish a national pharmacare system, pointing to an agreement signed with the Prince Edward Island Government last month to increase drug coverage in the province.

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Miller says the NDP endorses both national pharmacare and dentalcare, and plans to improve national health with plans around income and food security.

Godsoe says the Greens are in favour of not only universal pharmacare, but “head-to-toe” healthcare coverage, funded by increased taxes, especially on the wealthy.

Davidson says she would not be in favour of universal pharmacare, instead focusing on preventing people from getting sick through education on healthy eating, active living, and mental wellness.

Balfour says he’s also opposed to universal pharmacare, as he sees that as simply placing more responsibility and expenses on a healthcare system that is currently not working very well. He says taxing the rich to pay for such a system would simply make them find ways to shelter their income.

Also discussed was the potential implementation of a Universal Basic Income (UBI). Miller and Godsoe both say they’re in favour of a UBI similar to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and Forbes says some Liberal MPs are already working on a similar plan. Davidson says anyone who thinks the welfare system is inadequate should take it up with the provincial government. Balfour says the government should be less involved in the economy, and taxes should be lowered to decrease the cost of living.

Regarding green industry, Forbes says the climate crisis means Canada can grow its economy while protecting the climate, suggesting net zero emission vehicles such as electric planes and helicopters as a future industry. Miller says green infrastructure projects would create millions of jobs and allow the nation to end subsidies for and transition away from fossil fuels. Godsoe says jobs in building green infrastructure, as well as retrofitting existing infrastructure would kickstart the economy. Schmale says a focus of the Conservatives would be to make Canada the “best place in the world” to develop new technology, especially green technologies. Davidson says the focus of green industry in Canada should be exporting green technologies to major polluters such as China and India. Balfour says the government should “get out of the climate change business entirely,” and allow parties in the free market who believe climate change is an issue to do as they will.

The federal election is September 20th.

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