The latest in a series of federal candidate debates took place this week as three of the five Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte hopefuls met with some of the community’s seniors.
Dan Janssen (NDP), Marty Lancaster (Green) and Doug Shipley (Conservative) attended the forum hosted by the Canadian Association for Retired Persons (CARP). But Brian Kalliecharan (Liberal) had a family emergency and a CARP representative said David Patterson (People's Party) did not receive an invitation.
The night was focused on the CARP demographic, which is seniors, and the issues they face.
The first question dealt with financial security and how each party could help retired people on a day-to-day basis.
Janssen said his party has a plan that could help add a lot of money to the revenue stream.
“We are committed to asking the wealthiest in our country to pay a little more,” said Janssen. “The NDP is the only party that will create a new wealth tax on the ultra-rich that will bring in over $70 billion in new revenue in 10 years.”
The Green Party says it also has a plan that includes increasing the amount of money seniors would receive.
“For those that run out of money or the old-age security and CPP isn’t enough, those are things the Green Party will look at,” said Lancaster. “We are planning to increase the percentage of CPP from 25 per cent up to 50.”
Shipley mentioned that with his father having passed away recently, he was settling his dad’s affairs and realized how tough it is for seniors.
“The Conservative Party will make a universal tax credit and increase the age limit credit and remove five per cent to your home and heating bill,” said Shipley. “We are also going to scrap the carbon tax, because we want to put more money in your pocket.”
The question of how the parties would stop elder abuse was also discussed. Candidates were told 89 per cent of CARP members believe the government should invest in ways to battle elder abuse and neglect.
Lancaster noted there's currently a website and phone number for people to report elder abuse and urged anyone concerned to do so. He also said that his party was going to invest a significant amount of dollars into a new strategy.
“We want to start and fund a national dementia strategy, because the abuse begins between individuals that are in elder-care facilities,” said Lancaster. “People with dementia are being kept in the same facility and eating areas as those without and there are often times for interaction. That is often when the interaction occurs and with more funding, $50 million a year is our plan, we can help end this issue.”
Shipley said he believes elder abuse is a societal issue that needs a societal response.
“This shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of government,” said Shipley. “We need to make sure everyone is involved in this, that society and neighbours are involved in stopping this.
"So far, the Conservative Party hasn’t fully endorsed a 1-800 number and we’re not sure it is the most effective way to curb this," he added. "The bottom line is we all need to get more involved in stopping elder abuse.”
Janssen attributed much of the elder-abuse problem to societal issues.
“Income insecurity, unaffordable housing, social isolation are often made worse when they leave their homes and communities,” said Janssen. “In all or some of these cases, elder abuse increases and just one generation from now, one in four Canadians will be a senior.”
The topic of the day was the Liberals' promise to invest $40 million over four years into the protection of Lake Simcoe should they get re-elected. This came less than a month after the Conservatives promised to restart the Lake Simcoe Clean-Up Fund and invest $30 million over four years.
Lancaster said he doesn’t believe any party other than the Greens have a true plan to stabilize the lake and overall environment.
"We’re talking about the environment. Seriously, what party are you going to believe when it comes to any promises to keep it clean?” he asked. “This is isn’t about throwing money at the lake, it is about the climate-change issue and no other party has a real plan for that.”
Janssen said the NDP has a clear and strategic plan to assist in the conservation of Lake Simcoe and it includes a wider initiative.
“Our national freshwater strategy is what we will implement,” said Janssen. “We would be looking at protecting 30 per cent of all of our natural resources, which includes water, land and the addressing of air pollution.
"We all love Lake Simcoe, but we need to clean everywhere we can so that Lake Simcoe can stay healthy for years to come.”
The next BSOM debate is scheduled for tonight a 6 p.m. at the Barrie & District Association of Realtors building at 676 Veterans Dr. in Barrie.