ELECTION 2015: Federal candidates in Saanioch-Gulf Islands weigh in on refugees, retirement

The Peninsula News Review and Saanich News posed a series of questions to the candidates in the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands.

  • Thu Oct 15th, 2015 8:00pm
  • News

Black Press newspapers the Peninsula News Review and Saanich News posed a series of questions to the candidates in the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands — a riding that both publications share.

Today, the PNR continues a series with the second and third of five questions and how each candidate in the Oct. 19 federal election answered.

 

What should Canada’s role be in dealing with international refugees?

 

Robert Boyd, Conservative Party

Our Conservative government is following a balanced, compassionate approach while safeguarding Canadians’ security. The Prime Minister has stated the crisis must be addressed at all three levels: confronting ISIS militarily, providing humanitarian aid and through refugee resettlement.

Canada has also contributed more than three quarters of a billion dollars to humanitarian relief in the region. And we announced early in the campaign our commitment to bring in additional persecuted religious and ethnic minorities.

Alicia Cormier, NDP

Canada should be a force for peace and development. The human tragedy unfolding in Syria is horrifying and unacceptable. Lives are hanging in the balance, our focus must now be on saving lives and Canada must act, now.

The NDP will work to: Get 10,000 government-sponsored refugees out of harm’s way and on the way to Canada by the end of this year through appointing a Syrian Refugee Coordinator, pulling resources from various departments including Foreign Affairs, Citizenship and Immigration and other departments;  Increase presence of Canada’s diplomatic and immigration officials in the region to accelerate processing of refugees; Work with Turkey and other affected countries to remove bureaucratic obstacles to resettlement and end Canada’s policy of discrimination, to treat all refugees equally.

We will also fast-track private sponsorship, with no cap, to bring as many people as possible to Canada and increase Canada’s contributions to humanitarian assistance agencies, including the UNHCR, based on the needs on the ground and help coordinate the response of the international community to the Syrian refugee crisis.

 

Tim Kane, Liberal Party

Like other Canadians, I have been shocked and disappointed by the Harper Conservative government’s lack of compassion for families fleeing Syria. Canada was once known around the world for our civility, our integrity and for our generosity. Individual Canadians and many groups and associations are responding to the crisis and it is deeply shameful that our federal government is resisting the international call to action.

I am proud that Justin Trudeau has committed to accept 25,000 refugees from Syria through immediate and direct government sponsorship. Certainly we must be sure that the people who arrive to build new lives here do not pose risks to our security, but the procedures and protocols exist. All it takes to protect our security while providing a constructive solution to this humanitarian crisis is political will.

 

Elizabeth May, Green Party

The current system for bringing refugees into Canada is wholly inadequate to deal with the worst migrant crisis since the Second World War.

Greens believe that special measures, like temporary resident permits, should be utilized to meet the scale of this crisis and that we must work together to fix our broken refugee process.

Recent changes have unconstitutionally terminated health benefits for refugees, detained record numbers of refugees and their children in prison, arbitrarily for “irregular arrival” by boat, or sometimes for years without charge.

The Green Party will overhaul Canada’s refugee protection system. We will end the shocking practice of detaining refugees, restore funding for refugee health care, and commit to taking in tens of thousands more refugees.

Canada should immediately increase the number of Syrian refugees welcomed to Canada to 25,000 while committing to bring in 40,000 over the next five years, conditional on security clearance.

We will also strengthen human rights protections for prospective immigrants and repeal recent changes that encourage rapid deportation, to restore Canada to a safe and inclusive society for new Canadians.

 

 

What would your party do to ensure Canada’s seniors are able to live comfortably in their retirement?

 

Robert Boyd, Conservative Party

Canadian seniors have worked and saved their entire lives. They know what’s best regarding their financial decisions and retirement. Seniors at all income levels are benefitting from enhanced benefits and tax cuts introduced by our government, such as:

• Tax-Free Savings Accounts have provided 2.7 million seniors with a secure and flexible savings option that protects their money from being eroded by taxes.

• Pension Income Splitting is providing significant tax relief to over one million senior couples.

• Increases to GIS benefits are helping Canada’s most vulnerable seniors.

• And increases to the Age Credit and the Pension Income Credit are providing significant tax relief to eligible seniors.

A re-elected Conservative government will also establish a $2,000 Single Seniors Tax Credit extending additional annual tax relief to nearly 1.6 million single and widowed seniors in Canada who have pension income.

When combined with the existing $2,000 Pension Income Credit that is claimed by 4.6 million seniors already, this new measure will double the tax relief available to single seniors annually, beginning in January 2017

 

Alicia Cormier, NDP

The NDP has practical solutions to help make life better for seniors:

a) Expand Canada/Quebec Pension Plan and restore Old Age Security eligibility to age 65, not 67 and provide a boost to the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

b) Work with the provinces to expand long-term and home care services and to launch a neurological health strategy.

Specifics include investment in home care for an additional 41,000 seniors, 5,000 more nursing home beds and $300 million to help build 200 clinics across Canada and help provinces hire over 7,000 doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, and $40 million to create a national Alzheimer’s and dementia strategy.

c) Canada urgently needs a national housing strategy. The NDP will pass the Affordable Housing Act to recognize housing as a right and restore long-term, stable investment in social housing. Provide incentives to build 10,000 affordable and market rental units.  We’ll also renew co-op housing operating agreements that are set to expire.

d ) Launch a tax benefit to support the two million informal caregivers who are looking after loved ones at home and provide an overdue boost to the compassionate care benefit available through Employment Insurance.

e) Introduce a national plan for universal public drug coverage.

 

Tim Kane, Liberal Party

Liberals are committed to ensuring Canadians have an adequate pension when they retire.

Canadians should be able to retire with dignity, but many seniors are facing a retirement income crisis. If we do not find solutions to this problem now, Canadians will pay with higher costs later on.

A Liberal government will restore the starting age for Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement to 65 and work with the provinces and territories, with workers, and with employers to enhance the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) for future generations. Pension experts have said  there is no crisis in OAS and that it is sustainable.

Liberals will not end pension income splitting for seniors. We do support voluntary deferral of CPP and OAS pensions until age 70 in return for higher pensions. We support the recent changes to the RRSP withdrawal schedule, raising the age for mandatory withdrawal. Liberals believe that employers must honour their commitments to retirees.

 

Elizabeth May, Green Party

Retirees are a diverse, vital and growing population within Canada.

The Green Party fundamentally believes in providing our retirees with the independence, well-being, and dignity they deserve. We will work to develop a National Seniors Strategy, including Pharmacare, a Guaranteed Livable Income, a housing plan, and pension protection, to ensure seniors’ basic material and health needs are taken care of.

We cannot be complacent about the economic struggles of seniors. The Green Party will enhance and protect the

elderly out of poverty. We will increase the Year’s Maximum Pensionable Earnings (YMPE) to reflect the increased needs of senior citizens.

The Green Party of Canada is a strong supporter of efficient defined benefit retirement plans, which produce significantly higher pensions for the same contributions, yet they both receive the same tax support. Green MPs will resist the shift to inefficient voluntary defined contribution plans and require that all corporate pension plans be audited to ensure adequate funding and proper management. Pension plans are far too important a social good to leave entirely to the free market.

Canada Pension Plan (CPP) — the most reliable and predictable pension plan — and introduce reforms to keep the

elderly out of poverty. We will increase the Year’s Maximum Pensionable Earnings (YMPE) to reflect the increased needs of senior citizens.

The Green Party of Canada is a strong supporter of efficient defined benefit retirement plans, which produce significantly higher pensions for the same contributions, yet they both receive the same tax support. Green MPs will resist the shift to inefficient voluntary defined contribution plans and require that all corporate pension plans be audited to ensure adequate funding and proper management. Pension plans are far too important a social good to leave entirely to the free market.