We have compiled a list of 13 questions for our 2018 Provincial candidates from our editorial staff as well as you, our readers. Here’s how they responded.
Links to the other candidates’ responses can be found at the bottom.
Bill Walker, PC candidate, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound
Question: What do you think is the most important issue facing Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound (BGOS) residents today and how will it be addressed?
Answer: It's jobs, taxes and their rising cost of living. From rising Hydro rates to higher taxes and service fees, people are really hurting after 15 years of Liberal mismanagement.
This mismanagement also translates into a loss of critical services that all of us depend on. From cancelled surgeries and growing wait lists to mass school closures and Special Education cuts, life has been getting harder for many constituents in Bruce and Grey. For every $1 billion dollar this government wasted, the people were losing out on one year of long-term care for 17,000 seniors; one year of home care for 55,000 patients; 3,550 palliative care beds; 8,000 new affordable housing units; or $260 a month for one year for each ODSP recipient.
Q: How will you protect the interest of the BGOS constituents and rural Ontarians?
A: We are lowering the small business tax by 8.7 per cent. Here in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, the mom-and-pop stores and family businesses are the lifeblood of our communities; across Ontario, small businesses represent 95 per cent of all employers.
We are also putting money back in the pocket of families - up to $786 a year for middle earners and zero tax on all low-income earners.
We are offering a real solid 12 percent reduction in your hydro rate. And no backroom deals with wind turbine companies because we’re scrapping their Green Energy Act. No more $2-million bonuses for Hydro executives and $25,000-raises for Hydro board members – this is unacceptable when families, farmers and small business are hurting and can’t afford to pay their energy bills in Grey and Bruce. We are the party that is going to clean up this Hydro mess.
We are talking about creating jobs and championing skilled trades and apprenticeships. The current government sat idly as 300,000 manufacturing jobs vanished from Ontario. We are going to get Ontario back up and back in business.
We are reducing the gas tax by .10 cents/litre to give drivers relief at the pump. This is good news for all of us in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound. No one spends more money on gas than we do in rural Ontario. We need this relief.
Our seniors built this province and it's time we take care of them. Our seniors deserve care and the PCs will make sure they receive it. We are helping low-income seniors with free dental care, and we are building 15,000 long-term care beds.
We are also building new capacity in health care to improve access to mental health ($1.9 billion investment) and we are committed to ending hallway healthcare in our hospitals. It is unacceptable that people are waiting longer and longer to get care.
For families, we are offering a flexible 75 per cent tax rebate to help cover child care expenses, regardless of whether that care is a licensed daycare, a nanny, an after-school program or a babysitter.
These are real and genuine concerns that the people in Grey and Bruce want their government to focus on and it’s why a PC government is going to get them done.
Q: What is your role in ensuring your party will deliver on its promises to Ontarians.
A: Standing up for constituents is my priority. During my 6.5 years as the local representative at Queen’s Park, I have dealt first-hand with a lot of constituents who came to me for help in their great time of need. To me, representing the people means truly wanting and fighting for better outcomes for them and their families, and following through with action.
Q: How will you invest in public health care to ensure that Ontarians receive a high quality of service now and into the future?
A: I am very pleased our new Markdale Hospital continues to move along as planned, with construction expected in the next two to three years. Such infrastructure projects are important because they will connect people to the services they need in their communities.
In addition, our plan is to build new capacity in health care to improve access to mental health ($1.9 billion investment), as well as in long-term care with 15,000 new beds in the next five years because we are committed to ending hallway healthcare in our hospitals. People should not be waiting longer to get the care they and their families need.
We are also putting more money into autism funding, just as we said we would do during every debate at Queen's Park when we were reprimanding the Liberal government for wait-listing children in need.
Q: How will you invest in education to ensure that Ontarians receive quality education now and into the future?
A: In the last two years, I have taken a strong stance on education, demanding a moratorium on school closures and a review of the funding formula that was putting 600 schools on the chopping block. So, in demanding the government put the students’ interest first, I spoke at rallies, presented petitions, delivered Statements, asked dozens of questions in Question Period and even got booted out for challenging the Minister Education over her shameful record on mass school closures. I would suggest our action and efforts has helped deliver the school closure moratorium.
Moving forward, we need to restore the economic impact factor in the decision-making. The approval process should look at what's actually best for students and for the health and sustainability of a community.
Q: What are your plans to address Long Term Care concerns in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound?
A: I have personally approached the Minister just as I had worked with her predecessor to convey the support from many people in the community for keeping long-term care beds in Markdale, and to also remind them that when we have the ground-breaking for our brand new hospital in Markdale, the community is expecting to also have Grey Gables there too. Both are important health care providers in our community and I will continue to support each actively. I asked for the Critic role for Long Term Care and Seniors and I am proud our Party and Leader has committed to building needed new beds.
Q: How will you improve Ontario's economy and what impact will that have on BGOS residents?
A: Under the current government, small business hydro bills have tripled while many small businesses are struggling to stay open under the increased burden of red tape and regulations, and increasing costs.
The other parties believe employers need to pay even more. We disagree. Small businesses represent 95 per cent of all employers and we’re supporting them with lower taxes and lower hydro bills so that they can create jobs and make communities in Grey and Bruce stronger.
Q: Are you satisfied with Ontario's current tax rates or are there ways to provide tax relief/incentives to rural residents and/or businesses? If so, what is the cost of providing that relief?
A: We are prepared to reduce operating costs for farmers and bring relief to rural Ontario.
We are talking about lowering the cost of Hydro, reducing the price of gas by 10 cents a litre, cutting taxes for all, including farmers, to ensure their business can stay competitive, eliminating the Cap and Trade/Carbon Tax as it impacts input costs, ensuring flexibility in the labour market to meet the unique circumstances of farm work, and reducing red tape as this burden can translate into almost $6,000 in added costs per year.
In addition, we’re increasing the Risk Management Program (RMP) cap by $50 million annually to help farmers and other producers better manage risks outside of their control. This means more stability, income security and peace of mind for farmers, all of which is long overdue.
We’re also enabling private sector participation in the expansion of natural gas, which will help build prosperity in rural communities. In turn, this will free up savings of up to $100 million to partner with providers in order to deliver cellular and broadband expansion. Businesses and individuals rely on the internet now more than ever, and so this will mean better, more reliable connections, better opportunities to create and grow a business and better options to find a good job.
Our party has been a strong champion of agriculture and will continue to stand up for rural Ontario by providing real relief to farmers facing a rising cost of production.
Q: How will your party serve to address climate change, and protect the environment and the water for future generations?
A: Whether your top priority is clean air and water, conservation, fighting climate change, or simply doing more to prevent litter — we all have a role to play in protecting our environment.
By embracing innovation and focusing on initiatives that deliver results, we will ensure we pass on a cleaner environment to future generations.
Our plan includes hiring more conservation officers and increasing policing of major polluters, as well as establishing an emissions-reduction fund to invest in new technologies to reduce emissions right here in Ontario.
Q: What is your stand on carbon tax?
A: We are scrapping the carbon tax and reducing gas prices by 10 cents per litre.
Q: Do you plan on addressing hydro rates for Ontarians?
A: The Green Energy Act alone represents Ontario's largest-ever wealth transfer from the poor and middle class to the rich. This is why we are removing it.
So no more backroom deals with wind turbine companies because we’re scrapping their Green Energy Act. No more $2-million bonuses for Hydro executives and $25,000-raises for Hydro board members – this is unacceptable when families, farmers and small business are hurting and can’t afford to pay their energy bills in Grey and Bruce. We are the party that is going to clean up this Hydro mess.
And it also means that, after years of skyrocketing electricity rates, your hydro bills will finally start coming down.
Q: Are there any plans to address mental health and drug issues in BGOS?
A: We are investing $1.9 billion in mental health. Together with the federal portion, this will see a record $3.8 billion invested in mental health so we can build capacity and reduce the shamefully long wait lists.
Q: Is there anything else you wish to share with our readers about you or your party’s platform?
A: I am very pleased our new Markdale Hospital continues to move along as planned, with construction expected in the next two to three years, and I am proud of our new $7.5-million, 13,600-square-foot facility at Georgian College’s renowned Marine Emergency Duties Training Centre of Excellence. These two infrastructure projects are important because they will connect people to the services they need in their communities and help to ensure sustainability of these crucial community assets and the jobs they support.
I cannot stress enough the importance of never forgetting the job Number One is always representing the people who elected you to serve them. To me, being their voice at Queen’s Park means being the embodiment of who we – the great people of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound – truly are: determined, principled, and strong. Six-and-half years later, I remain humbled to join those who have served as MPPs before me, and proud to have the privilege to be the voice of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound. I was the top speaker in the Legislature in 2016 and spoke the 2nd most words in 2017, and I intend to always voice the needs of the people I am privileged and honoured to represent.
I invite you to join me. On June 7th, I ask for your support so we can ensure we bring real change that puts the people of Ontario first.
See South Grey News for your other Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound candidates (in alphabetical order):
At the time of publishing, we hadn’t received a response from the Green Party’s Don Marshall or Alliance Ontario’s Enos Martin. If we get a response from either of these candidates, we will publish and update accordingly.
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