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West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country candidates Q&A

The Squamish Chief sent an online survey of Squamish issues to candidates running in the federal election to be the West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country MP. Here are their answers.
The Squamish Chief sent an online survey of Squamish issues to candidates running in the federal election to be the West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country MP. 

Q: What do you think are Squamish’s three top issues of concern that you/your party can address?

A: Patrick Weiler, Liberal Party of Canada: Climate change: Andrew Weaver, the former leader of the BC Green Party and renowned climate scientist, has called our climate plan “the only credible, science-aligned climate plan put forward by any political party at the federal level to date.” Our climate plan is both ambitious and achievable, and it will create hundreds of thousands of jobs. 

Childcare: Childcare in Squamish has become incredibly expensive and inaccessible. So we signed a deal with the Provincial Government to bring $10/day childcare, and to create 40,000 new spaces in B.C. The Conservatives have promised to rip that up - we can’t let them. 

Housing Affordability:  The cost of housing has gotten out of reach for many families. We have a plan to build, repair or restore 1.4 million new homes, introduce a tax-free savings account for first-time homebuyers, ban blind-bidding, tax property-flipping, introduce a rent-to-own program, and more. This plan is the only plan to address all three aspects of the housing crisis: demand, supply, and practices leading to speculation.

A: Doug Bebb, People's Party of Canada: The current Liberal government has quite frankly left Canadians in the worst mess ever. They have led the way in removing our fundamental freedoms, which are enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The People’s Party stands for individual freedom, responsibility, fairness and respect, so we will immediately rescind all federal COVID-19 lock-down and vaccine mandates and work with the provinces to do likewise. The Liberals have severely weakened Canada’s sovereignty by a reckless accumulation of debt and a slavish adherence to globalist policies on health and climate. Our Party will place the needs of Canadians first by being fiscally prudent and we will withdraw from the Paris Agreement while forging a diversified clean energy strategy. Last but not least, the Liberals have angered and divided Canadians. Our party treats all Canadians equally. We will ban vaccine passports. We will not allow our country to descend into medical apartheid.

A:Chris MacGregorr, Independent: Protection of our wild salmon habitat, forest management, and reconciliation with the Squamish Nation, let them speak, be heard and tell us what is needed for their healing.

A: John Weston, Conservative Party of Canada: People in this riding know it’s time for a change. After six dismal years of the Trudeau government, people know that sentiments are not actions and promises are not results. Canada needs a dramatic change of direction and I want to be part of the solution. At the doorsteps in Squamish, I am hearing from so many voters that they are concerned about how they can afford the cost of childcare, housing and even our groceries and gasoline. Prices are skyrocketing. Over the next four years, Conservatives will deliver Canada’s Recovery Plan to secure jobs, our economic future and ensure Squamish is a place people can afford to live. We will secure our environment through our comprehensive plan to combat climate change that ensures we meet emissions targets by 2030 and look toward critical infrastructure upgrades needed in a city facing increased growth. 

A: Mike Simpson, Green Party of Canada: 1. The climate emergency drives all other issues and takes first priority. We need to end all fossil fuel subsidies and stop building new infrastructure to support the fossil fuel industry, including fracked “natural” gas. This means Squamish must step up and stop the LNG plant. With its consistent wind patterns, Squamish has the potential to be a big-time player in wind energy and could lead the way in newer, blade-free wind technologies that are quieter, nicer to look at, and do not threaten birds. 2. Reconciliation — Reconciliation is the long-overdue way to begin rewriting our tragic history of wrongs. All of us, with the exception of local First Nations, live on unceded territory, and we must act in Squamish accordingly. I was involved in hosting the Longhouse Dialogues at the largest conference of women in the world that was recently held on Squamish territory. This was an awesome step forward, but it was just one step of so many more that need to be taken. There are 94 recommendations to act on regarding the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and Squamish must meet these head-on. Many of these actions will help address climate change. We need to empower Indigenous communities to participate in clean energy solutions. We need to listen to and learn from their ecosystem knowledge, which can lead the way in habitat restoration and the kind of environmental stewardship that we must all practice to sustain a livable world. 3. Sustainable communities. As Squamish grows, we need to make sure it grows in a way that works with the land and for the people. Thanks to the winds, rocks, waters, new technologies and the wisdom of our Indigenous communities, this area has everything it needs for both the economy and the ecosystem to thrive. Our role would be to help that happen — to build affordable housing options, restore the salmon habitat, develop and implement new clean technologies — everything we can to enable people to live locally within the limits of the natural ecosystem. 

A: Gordon Jeffrey, Rhino Party: The labour shortage, affordable housing shortage, and the environment.

A: Avi Lewis, New Democratic Party: Every Canadian community faces overlapping and interconnected crises. The (1) climate emergency, (2) affordable housing, and (3) inequality are key among them for Squamish. These big problems need big solutions, not tinkering around the edges. Our pandemic recovery must offer a Green New Deal for communities like ours. We need to build a new economy that puts caring for people and the planet above corporate profits and the NDP platform offers a lot to move us to that goal. Improving and building 1.7 million affordable homes, direct support for renters, investments in rural broadband and inter-city and highway transit, and funding for pharmacare, dental care, and long-term care are all part of our plan to prioritize ordinary people. I’ll fight to put the massive resources of the federal government to work for us, instead of for billionaires and big polluters.

Q: This election, voters have a host of white, middle-aged men to choose as potential representatives for the Sea to Sky. What is your party doing to encourage diversity?

A: Patrick Weiler, Liberal Party of Canada: Systemic racism exists in Canada and its institutions. As a heterosexual Caucasian man from West Vancouver and Sechelt, I acknowledge my privilege. I have not faced the barriers that other Canadians have. I want to take down those barriers. My office follows the 50-30 rule (gender parity and 30% racialized). As a regular attendee with the multicultural societies in our riding, I continue to learn how I can do my part to address racism in our communities. As a lawyer representing First Nations, I have fought for Indigenous rights and title. If re-elected, I will double down on these efforts.

A: Doug Bebb, People's Party of Canada: This issue of diversity and systemic racism is another blatant example of how the Liberal government incessantly seeks to divide Canadians. Our Party only sees one human family. Of course, there are differences in race, gender and colour but that kaleidoscopic diversity only makes us more beautiful. However, it is our core values like “loving our neighbour” and “doing no harm” that binds us together, so that we view those around us as people to respect and elevate based on love rather than to dismiss and denigrate based on hateful and destructive political agendas. We welcome all those who want true humanity to flourish.

A: Chris MacGregor, Independent: Supporting the reconciliation process and land concerns by listening to the needs of the Aboriginal nations. I believe the support team I have gathered to help me in this election has a lot of diversity. Peace and inclusion for all. It’s time for Canada to heal. 

A: John Weston, Conservative Party of Canada: As a human rights lawyer, I know how important it is to ensure everyone’s voice is represented. I am proud to belong to a party that encourages everyone, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation to run as a candidate. In fact, in this election across Canada, the Conservative Party has one of the most diverse slates of candidates the party has ever put forward for an election. That work starts by encouraging local participation in our communities. If elected, I look forward to listening to all voices in our riding to make it a better place for everyone to live. 

A: Mike Simpson, Green Party of Canada: Before they invited me to run in this election, the local Green Party asked no less than seven people of diverse and equity-seeking backgrounds to run in this riding. In order to even close the nominations, they had to explain to the central party office how they had approached candidates from diverse backgrounds and personally asked them to run. As we have witnessed this year with the heartbreaking testimony of Mumilaaq Qaqqaq from Nunavut, the job can be toxic and there are structural barriers in place. To win the nomination as a candidate, I competed with a well-spoken advocate and mother. I considered not running. Giving up the floor to a qualified female seemed like the right thing on many levels. But I was encouraged to let the membership decide on this issue, because of the other strengths I have, the work history and non-profit experience that could help me make a difference in Ottawa. Perhaps our colour, gender or age does not prevent us from being strong advocates? Perhaps there is an appropriate way for white, middle-aged men to still show up in the political discourse. All parties need to take a good look at their structures to provide opportunities and remove barriers. The Green Party is doing this every single day. Yes, I’m a middle-aged white guy. But I hope that my experience working closely with the women’s movement in various parts of the world will prove that just because a person is white, middle-aged and a man does not mean they cannot struggle on the right side of history or advocate for progressive policies. 

A: Gordon Jeffrey, Rhino Party: I don't care what race/sex a person is; I am only concerned with the diversity of ideas and a person's quality of character. The gender gap among candidates nationally has closed every election and currently sits at 44% non-male this election. Any statistician will tell you eight candidates is an absurdly small sample size to be judging a pool of over 2,000 candidates by.

A: Avi Lewis, New Democratic Party: I am personally committed to working for a future where racism, discrimination, homophobia, transphobia have no place and where governments treat people with the respect and dignity we all deserve. The NDP will invest $375-million over five years in nationwide anti-racism initiatives and create an Office of Environmental Justice to ensure our response to the climate crisis is fair and protects workers. We’ll also take on white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups operating in Canada with a national plan to dismantle far-right extremist groups.

Importantly, Canada cannot confront the big overlapping crises we face unless without Truth and Reconciliation. The colonial mindset that claimed a god-given right to steal children, land and resources was the same logic that built an economy based on limitless extraction and consumption, creating the climate catastrophe. It is urgent that we need to see these connections clearly. We need transformative change in this country and we need a new story of Canada. For more than 150 years, settlers have taken the riches of this stolen land and turned them into money.

In the 21st century, we simply can no longer afford this 19th century thinking. Canada needs to build a new economy - and a new relationship with Indigenous peoples - in a hurry. As akista xaxanak told me, “we have to stop the legal and political maneuvering and stop minimizing the damages towards Indigenous Peoples in Canada.” This country has everything it needs to guarantee housing, health care, dignified work, and meaningful leisure for all. Confronting systemic racism and creating an intentionally anti-racist and inclusive society is essential to this work.


Q: Realistically, how can your party help Squamish with childcare? 

A: Patrick Weiler, Liberal Party of Canada: This summer, we signed an agreement to bring $10/day childcare and 40,000 childcare spaces to BC. More of these spaces will be built in Squamish to provide families with needed relief. The Conservatives have promised to rip up that agreement.

A: Doug Bebb, People's Party of Canada: We will create an economic climate where more wealth is generated, certified private daycare centres are encouraged and stay-at-home options are incentivized.

A: Chris MacGregor, Independent: Subsidies for families and tax breaks for businesses that focus on childcare.

A: John Weston, Conservative Party of Canada: The Conservative childcare plan will enable more women and families to choose to participate in the workforce. Unlike Justin Trudeau’s plan, the Conservative plan will provide direct benefits to parents so they can make the best choice for their families. For years families in our community have been promised better childcare, more options or lower prices, but once again, this is a failed Liberal promise. I know that families cannot afford another four years of inaccessible childcare and that’s why I am committed to ensuring a proven plan is put forward that actually allows people to take action now to address their critical childcare needs. 

A: Mike Simpson, Green Party of Canada: All kids deserve quality care — whether that’s with a stay-at-home parent, or a daycare/preschool option. The Green Party wants to provide the resources so that all working families can afford childcare and still have money left for food and rent. In addition to subsidizing current options, like Montessori and forest preschool, we will help create workplace childcare spaces through a direct tax credit to employers of $1,500/child per year. We also want to give parents a viable option to stay home with their kids until they start kindergarten, which we will do by improving parental leave and introducing Guaranteed Livable Income. We will build on the Multilateral Framework on Early Learning and Child Care and the agreements that have been negotiated with every province and territory, as well as with the First Nation, Inuit and Métis Peoples to ensure solutions are meeting their needs.

A: Gordon Jeffrey, Rhino Party: I would actually implement government-subsidized daycare that the Liberals have failed to deliver. 

A: Avi Lewis, New Democratic Party: The NDP is committed to universal $10/day childcare, where childcare workers earn a living wage. Unlike the Liberals, we’ll make the super-rich and big corporations based in Calgary and Toronto cover the cost of these programs, rather than working families in Squamish. We’ll make nationwide investments of almost $30 billion over five years in childcare and early learning, paid for through excess profit taxes and wealth taxes on pandemic profiteers and the super-rich.

Q:  Related to childcare is our housing affordability problem. What can any federal party do to help us with that? 

A: Patrick Weiler, Liberal Party of Canada: As a member of Generation Squeeze, this is personal for me. We will build, repair or restore 1.4 million new homes, introduce a tax-free savings account for first-time homebuyers, ban blind-bidding, tax property-flipping, introduce a rent-to-own program, and more. “Generation Squeeze,” a Vancouver-based advocacy organization on affordability issues, has endorsed our plan.

A:  Doug Bebb, People's Party of Canada: The People’s Party will allow our economy to thrive, thus generating wealth. This means more hard-working first time buyers will be able to afford the down-payment on their first home, whether that be a condo, a mobile home or a modest house in the suburbs or a village.

A: Chris MacGregor, Independent: I believe working and supporting agencies like Habitat for Humanity to build affordable homes is a start and also working with local and provincial governments to implement a 20% requirement for new subdivisions or condos to be affordable homes.

A: Gordon Jeffrey, Rhino Party: We need to steer development away from multi-million dollar luxury condos and toward affordable housing by changing taxation models. Developers don't want to build affordable housing because they will be taxed much more, so of course, they are building the luxury homes that will make them more money.

A: Mike Simpson, Green Party of Canada: We need to understand what’s driving housing prices up, and build solutions that people can afford. Squamish is a great place to live, and COVID has shown people that they don’t need to live downtown to work there. House prices are skyrocketing across this riding, driving renters out of the market and making it difficult for first-time buyers. These are not okay conditions if we want to build a sustainable future. The Green Party would declare housing affordability and homelessness a national emergency, and invest serious federal money into building quality, energy-efficient solutions. Co-ops, rental housing, social housing, and multi-income projects that mix demographics and increase density would combine to give Canadians several good options to choose from, for a price a real-world salary could afford. We also need to restructure the Canada and Mortgage Housing mandate, to ensure that cities like Squamish can access federal funding for the infrastructure they need to densify, including water, waste and climate adaptation needs.

A: John Weston, Conservative Party of Canada: I know many local residents care about housing affordability. The Conservative housing plan will build over a million new affordable homes within three years and get foreign buyers out of the market. Unlike Trudeau’s incoherent jumble of a housing plan, Canada’s Conservatives actually have a vision and a plan to ensure first-time homebuyers can actually afford to buy a home in communities like Squamish.

A: Avi Lewis, New Democratic Party: The federal government is where most of the money and power is in our country and I’ll work hard to mobilize it for communities like ours. An NDP government will build and improve 1.7 million units of non-market housing and create 500,000 new homes over 5 years. Again, we can do this by eliminating loopholes used by the ultra-rich and shady corporations, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and cracking down on tax avoidance and pandemic profiteering. An NDP government will spur job growth and new construction by waiving the federal portion of GST for affordable homes. And we will work with local municipalities to streamline the approval and construction of non-market and affordable market housing. In the short term, up to $5,000 per year in annual rent relief for families will help address some of the immediate housing pressures created by decades of underinvestment by Liberal and Conservative governments.

Q: We all agree global warming is occurring. Why is your party the best choice for dealing with it? 

A: Patrick Weiler, Liberal Party of Canada: With one of the world’s most comprehensive climate plans, we’ll reduce emissions by 45% by 2030. We’ve passed legislation that holds the Government of Canada accountable to set and achieve science-based targets; I worked directly with Jonathan Wilkinson to draft that law. We’re pricing pollution, planting billions of trees, and making record investments in renewables. We’re getting rid of fossil fuel subsidies, and building EV stations across the country. Our plan will create hundreds of thousands of jobs within businesses like Squamish’s own Carbon Engineering and Nexii. Andrew Weaver, the former BC Green Party leader and an author with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said: “The Liberal Party's Climate Plan is the only credible, science-aligned climate plan put forward by any political party at the federal level to date. This is a plan that reflects the urgency and scale of the crisis.” The NDP has ambitious targets - but no plan. Mark Jaccard, another Canadian IPCC author, said that the NDP plan is "largely ineffective and unnecessarily costly", and would be “devastating to the economy”. The Conservatives actually have a plan to violate Canada’s Paris Agreement commitment to reduce our emissions by 2030 by taking the unprecedented step of rolling back targets. They also want to bring back the Northern Gateway Pipeline, which would tear through our pristine rainforest here in Squamish. We can’t let that happen.


A: Doug Bebb, People's Party of Canada: A People’s Party government will create conditions to incentivize companies to develop and adopt clean-burning fossil fuel technologies. At issue is an unscientific notion that the world’s mean temperature is rising quickly, the polar ice caps are rapidly melting and the ocean levels will rise and many coastal cities will be deluged. Unfortunately, these predictions are based on computer-generated models biased towards a pre-determined outcome. By no means do they have unanimous expert endorsement. As well, governmental and globalist institutions are leveraging these models to advance agendas that impose economic hardship and rights-stripping mandates on a wide swath of humanity. It is far better to accurately determine a sustainable CO2 level, clearly identify the sources of CO2 emissions and find ways to calibrate them with the ideal level. The PPC believes that we can find ways to maintain the balance between a thriving economy, respect for our inalienable rights and a stable climate.

A:Chris MacGregor, Independent: There is no one solution, but a start would be to invest in new manufacturing of hemp and hemp products as well as growing and cultivating hemp. Hemp reduces carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.

A: John Weston, Conservative Party of Canada: I care deeply about securing the future of our environment for future generations. Canada’s Conservatives have a serious and comprehensive plan to combat climate change that ensures we meet [Canada’s 2016 target of a 30% reduction below 2005 levels by 2030] emissions targets by 2030, meeting our Paris Accord commitments by putting a price on carbon, empowering individuals through our Low Carbon Personal Savings Account, curbing industrial emissions, increasing zero-emissions vehicles, and standing up to major polluters, like China.

A: Mike Simpson, Green Party of Canada: Ever since global warming was first identified by scientists, the Green Party’s number one mission has been to look for ways to (a) live with the inevitable rise in temperature and (b) do our utmost to combat it, to minimize the human contributions to climate change. 

We work well across party lines. The more Green voices we can send to Ottawa, the more the other parties will see how essential our policy is. It’s based on the most recent scientific projections, not the wishful thinking of political leaders who aren’t ready to cancel that pipeline quite yet. In this riding, we’re hearing lots of environmental talk from all candidates. Voters are demanding big changes to save the planet, and that’s how change begins. 

But while the other candidates all know the right buzzwords, the leaders of the Conservatives, Liberals, and NDP will not back them up with policy that supports them. In all three of those parties, votes in Parliament are “whipped,” which means the candidate has to vote the way their leader tells them to, or they’re no longer a member of that party’s caucus. Avi Lewis might stand on a podium and move a crowd to wild applause as he outlines all the right things we need to do to save the planet. But as an NDP member, he will be forced to vote for fracking, LNG, tar sands oil, old-growth logging, and pipelines. Just like Weston and Weiler. They’re playing a shell game, and the stakes are too high for us to sit by and wait one more round. Only the Greens are putting science front and centre to drive our policies. We must reduce emissions by 60% of 2005 levels to avoid catastrophe. Period. This is the global consensus of the International Panel on Climate Change. The other parties argue with it and reduce the numbers or change the dates. We are the only party that agrees with the International Energy Agency that no new fossil fuel infrastructure (including an LNG plant) should be built. We lead the charge on providing cleantech alternatives to greenhouse gas. Our timeline is urgent. We need a Green MP in Ottawa to champion a cross-party, cross-sector, whole of society approach to the climate emergency, including an emergency, cross-party committee of Parliament. We have no time left to argue.

A: Gordon Jeffrey, Rhino Party: As a local ski bum of 12 years, I'm the only one who can be trusted to take this skiing emergency seriously. Our current overlords do a lot of lip service, but (other than 2020, due solely to everybody staying home during the pandemic) our emissions have actually been going up every year (much to our embarrassment on the global stage). It's key we get back our international credibility on this subject in order to influence bigger producers of emissions.

A: Avi Lewis, New Democratic Party: No government and no party anywhere in the world is doing enough to rapidly transition off fossil fuels and protect workers. The current choice between Liberal climate delay and Conservative climate denial is not working. Instead, we need an emergency national mobilization like we had to win the Second World War. 

The climate crisis is interconnected with our housing, jobs, and health care crisis. That’s why our pandemic recovery must be a Green New Deal that not only confronts the climate crisis but creates good jobs in caring and repairing our community and the planet, too. Unlike the Liberals, the NDP doesn’t pretend that markets and pricing alone can solve the climate problem. We need investments in people, housing, job creation, and transportation that transform our society and transition off of fossil fuels with the urgency and scale that the climate crisis demands.

Q: The electorate is tired after 18 months of a pandemic. What is your vision for how we move out of the pandemic and through recovery? 

A: Patrick Weiler, Liberal Party of Canada: The only way out of the pandemic is by achieving herd immunity. For that, everyone who can get vaccinated needs to get vaccinated. We’re implementing a vaccine mandate for interprovincial travel, and in federally regulated workplaces. We’re also proposing to fund provincial proof-of-vaccinations programs.

A: Doug Bebb, People's Party of Canada: Clearly, for Canadians to enjoy “life, liberty and security of the person” as guaranteed in our Charter, we cannot continue along the current trajectory. There must be a balanced exit strategy that meets the requirements of individual freedom, responsibility, fairness and respect, and which produces the best with the least harm. The People’s Party will immediately promote healthy, immune-boosting lifestyles and therapies, plus implement proven COVID prevention and recovery therapies such as Ivermectin. 

[Editor’s note: Ivermectin is a parasite control for animals and humans. It is not authorized by Health Canada for treatment of COVID-19].

We will replace all lockdown measures with a “focused protection” approach. We will ensure that any COVID-19 medical treatment is offered without coercion and with informed consent, including full knowledge of potentially deleterious effects and alternate safe and effective therapies. Our Party will also immediately revoke vaccine status card funding for provinces. We will unite our country around our shared core values of compassion, truth and freedom. We will elevate our true humanity.

A: Chris MacGregor, Independent: Transparency is key. We are not hearing from both sides of scientists and doctors due to heavy internet censoring and biased mainstream media reporting. People and businesses have suffered enough. The segregation due to the fight between freedom of choice and following mandates have separated people on many levels. Halting the growth of unity, which is the glue of community building. In addition, the devastating effects of the restrictions and lockdowns are increasing the rates of stress, suicide, fatal overdoses and financial loss. A serious investment into mental health and addictions with an emphasis on psychosocial rehabilitation, counselling and safe drug supply will improve and save lives. 

A: John Weston, Conservative Party of Canada: The pandemic has set our economy and Canadian families back dramatically. Places like Squamish and Whistler have been hard hit by the lockdowns and travel restrictions over the last 18 months. We must prioritize a strong recovery plan. Only the Conservative plan contains a full, workable recovery plan, including helping employers with wage subsidies to help bring back employees. I see a stark contrast between a comprehensive, clear, Conservative plan, on one hand, to restore one million jobs within a year and, on the other hand, a reckless Trudeau whose directionless policies threaten rising a debt.

A: Mike Simpson, Green Party of Canada: One of the great things that came out of this was seeing how well Guaranteed Livable Income — a policy in the Green Party Platform — works in real life. When people, through no fault of their own, were forced to stay home or close their businesses, governments around the world, regardless of political stripes, stepped in to ensure a basic livable income. Very few people abused this aid, and without it, we would have seen evictions, bankruptcies, foreclosures, business closures, and general economic catastrophe. The Green Party advocates for Guaranteed Livable Income as a cornerstone of sustainable economic strength. Video conferencing instead of flying is another practice we can continue. It’s cheaper, more efficient, and has a dramatically lower carbon footprint. And maybe we saw a little too much of our families sometimes, but more time at home was a plus for many. Part of our platform includes finding more time to be with family through a reduced workweek and mandatory three-week holidays. As tired as we are, we must fall forward into a clean, green, economically sound future — not back to business as usual. 

A: Gordon Jeffrey, Rhino Party: There are still too many unknowns for a concrete vision. The Liberals keep insisting everything is going to be fine once we hit a target vaccination rate, but with the rise of variants and potential for future pandemics, we just don't know what the future will bring. I think it's important to note that if the Liberal government hadn't shut down Canada's internationally respected Global Public Health Intelligence Network (which provided early warnings for potential pandemics), it is likely Canada would have been much better prepared for COVID.

A: Avi Lewis, New Democratic Party: The pandemic recovery must be a Green New Deal for people and the planet. As Canada recovers, we need to stop subsidizing activities that damage our environment and our bodies, like new fossil fuel infrastructure. Instead, the Liberals are choosing to help big corporations profiteering off the pandemic, while the NDP fought for small businesses struggling to keep their doors open. We’ll help public health and small businesses by introducing a long-promised universal pharmacare program that will save businesses ~$600/employee with extended health benefits. We’ll help small businesses rehire by subsidizing the employer portions of EI and CPP for new or rehired staff. An NDP government will pay for these new investments with an excess profits tax, bringing in more than $14 billion from super-sized corporations taking advantage of loopholes and public spending. And we’ll make new investments in training Canadians, particularly among traditionally underemployed groups and fossil fuel workers, to sustain and expand our workforce.

Q: There’s a massive shortage of workers here. Folks are blaming the employment insurance program. Would you scale it back? 

A: Patrick Weiler, Liberal Party of Canada: More people are employed in British Columbia than before the pandemic hit. This is a sign that the economy has come roaring back, although we have seen a shift of workers from some sectors to others in particular in between the circuit breaker and the move to stage 2 of BC's restart plan. The hospitality and tourism sector has particularly been impacted by workers moving to other sectors. A tight housing market and lack of access to childcare are exacerbating the labour shortages as well. The Employment Insurance program requires recipients to prove they’re looking for work. The minimum benefits for EI is tied to the Canada Recovery Benefit, and will go from $500 to $300/week, on September 26th. Of course, everything depends on our fight against COVID-19. So again — the best way to end the labour shortage is for everyone to get vaccinated.

A:  Doug Bebb, People's Party of Canada: Once we remove the COVID-19 restrictions the economy will correct itself and people needing work will return to the Squamish area to meet the current shortfall.

A:Chris MacGregor, Independent: Unaffordable housing is driving people away from all of the communities in this riding. We need to give incentives for training for employers. The EI program needs to be reviewed and altered to allow people to transition back to work.

A: John Weston, Conservative Party of Canada: Over the course of the pandemic, millions of Canadians lost their jobs, with women accounting for more than half of year-over-year employment losses. The tourism and hospitality sectors were among the hardest hit, as well as part-time and temporary workers. I’ve talked with many small business owners in Squamish, and they all say the same thing, they need help as we navigate through the pandemic and beyond. Many are finding it challenging to hire staff. The Conservative platform includes the most comprehensive policies to help support businesses get back on their feet. Once the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy ends, the Conservative will introduce the Canada Job Surge plan to get people back to work by paying at least 25% of the salary of net new hires. It’s critical we help businesses and our local economy get back on their feet – and Canada’s Conservatives are the only ones with a realistic plan to do so.

A: Mike Simpson, Green Party of Canada: No. I wouldn’t scale back employment insurance. We would redesign it, under the umbrella of our Guaranteed Livable Income policy, but it wouldn’t be less generous. We need to address this issue holistically so neither workers nor employers are being shortchanged. The minimum wage will go up. Our housing plan will make it affordable for workers to live in Squamish. Our Guaranteed Livable Income will top up any discrepancies to make it easier for workers to find a job they’re good at, and make a living wage regardless. Another spoke of this wheel would be additional training opportunities for workers in order to provide employers with a larger pool of qualified workers from which to draw. We would hold the small business tax rate at no more than 9% and reduce the paperwork burden on small businesses by eliminating duplicative tax filings and red tape. Squamish is a fabulous place to live. With abundant, affordable housing, low cost, universal childcare, and good schools, it would become a prime destination for young families to increase the number of people ready and willing to work. Green policies seek to address all these issues at once in a synergistic manner that will provide a win-win for both employers and employees.

A: Gordon Jeffrey, Rhino Party: I would. The bar is too low right now, and I have heard many young people say they were choosing not to work this summer to 'milk' government programs. 

A: Avi Lewis, New Democratic Party: No, scaling back support for ordinary workers is not the solution. Instead, our taxes on the super-rich and pandemic profits of super-sized corporations can pay for 1.7 million new and improved units of non-market housing, pharmacare to save businesses $600/yr per employee, and inter-city and highway transit, to lower the cost of living. Making Squamish a more affordable place to live will attract the workers that local businesses need.


*** Please note, this article has been corrected since was first posted to correct Chris MacGregor's last name. We also tweaked our editor's note and included a Health Canada link. We also fixed a typo in an answer from the NDP's Avi Lewis regarding the $375-million over five years in the diversity question. (Originally, he did not have the 'million' in his answer.)


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