At the first debate of the election campaign on Tuesday, party leaders clashed on issues of affordability, jobs, and infrastructure in northern Ontario, each pledging their own remedies to help the region.
The four leaders sparred over municipal spending, housing affordability, and short-term rentals, with Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford saying that growing the economy and increasing the region’s population are the keys to improving conditions in the north.
“All I care about is economic progress and job creation,” Ford stated. “More taxes are unnecessary. We require more people to pay taxes. More individuals need to be employed.”
He wouldn’t commit to giving municipalities more tools to bolster their revenue, if re-elected, saying instead that he’d make sure people have jobs.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she understands that the lower populations in northern communities have led to lower budgets, but raising property taxes can’t be the answer because housing is already too expensive.
Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said he’d share five per cent of the existing mining tax with municipalities to pad out their pocketbooks.
Green party Leader Mike Schreiner, on the other hand, said he would give all municipalities the same powers as Toronto to earn revenue and control their budgets.
“We need new solutions to old problems,” he said.
Three of the leaders also took aim at short-term rentals, with the Liberal, NDP and Green leaders agreeing that they should be regulated.
“From the standpoint of speculation and in the midst of what is the worst housing affordability crisis that our province has ever seen, we can no longer allow the simple forces of the of the free market,” Del Duca said.
Ford, meanwhile, argued that short-term rentals are a boon for the tourism industry, and said that while renters should be respectful of the properties they’re staying at, they bring valuable business to communities in the north.
Source_ The Canadian Press