What Waterloo Region wants from the 2019 election campaign
Published Tuesday, September 17, 2019 3:37PM EDT
With the federal election wrapping up its first week, the parties have begun making their positions clear.
But what matters most to people in Waterloo Region?
Here’s a breakdown of issues in the upcoming election that are resonating with voters.
There have been 17 shooting incidents to date this year in Waterloo Region, a blistering pace that would have put the year’s total at more than 25. By July, we had seen more shootings than Toronto had seen in the same period.
But that pace has slowed: since the 16th shooting at the end of July, the region has seen just one shooting.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken measures to investigate banning handguns and assault rifles in Canada, but thus far, the Liberal party has not moved forward. The Conservatives and Greens would focus their efforts on intercepting illegal handguns at the border. The NDP’s stance mirrors those two, going a step further to provide funding for anti-gang projects to deter at-risk youth from joining gangs.
While the region’s streets have been safer as of late, it remains to be seen how important the issue of gun violence along the 401 corridor will be in this year’s election campaign.
It’s no secret: house prices in the region have soared since the last federal election. That could be good news for homeowners, but bad news for homeowners-to-be.
Over the summer, the Liberal government announced a new measure to help first-time homebuyers get into the market by providing a federal loan that would match the five per cent down payment on a new home. Then, earlier this month, they upped the maximum price of a home that would qualify in a bid to help buyers in bigger markets like Toronto or Vancouver.
Meanwhile, as rents continue to rise across the country, the NDP is pledging to build 500,000 new affordable housing units in the next 10 years. They’ve also proposed bringing back 30-year CMHC-insured mortgages to help make monthly payments more manageable for first-time buyers on starter homes. Their commitment on their website doesn’t go into the exact criteria, though.
The Green Party is also pledging to build up to 250,000 affordable housing units in the next decade, while rehabilitating another 150,000 in the same time frame. They’re also promising $750 million for rent assistance while eliminating the aforementioned first-time homebuyer grant.
The Conservative Party hasn’t released specific information on a housing strategy, but has blasted the Liberal housing strategy to date. The party’s main criticism has been around an alleged Liberal proposal to add a capital gains tax to home sales, but the Liberal government has refuted that the document in question was a proposal.
All parties have suggested different measures to reducing housing inflation in the country.
It’s hard to argue with the region’s prosperity on the economic front.
The region has seen the continued growth of its tech sector as the tri-cities’ downtown cores have grown upward. Provincially, transportation along the 401 corridor to encourage travel between Waterloo and Toronto along the tech corridor remains a work in progress. This was a key issue in the recent provincial election.
The Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce says that the long-term growth forecast for Canada’s economy doesn’t project much growth.
President of the Greater KW Chamber, Ian McLean, says that a major issue across the region and country is its tax system on local businesses.
"The current system is uncompetitive and cumbersome for personal and business taxpayers," he writes in the bi-monthly publication The Advocate.
Most local candidates mention well-paying or green jobs, economy or small business in their campaigns.
Political scientist Peter Woolstencroft says he expects two issues for Liberal incumbents when it comes to opioids: downtown Kitchener’s consumption and treatment site and growing unrest with addiction in Cambridge.
With the consumption site primed to open any week now in Kitchener Centre, the riding’s MP Raj Saini has done his best to sidestep the opioid buzzwords. On his campaign website, he talked about the health of Kitchener Centre’s residents, and encouraging an “intelligent, fiscally responsible environmental and health policy.”
No other Kitchener centre candidates specifically name opioids in their platform, however Green Party leader Elizabeth May suggested on Monday that decriminalizing drugs could help fight the opioid problem.
To read more about the candidates for Kitchener Centre and other ridings, visit our candidate quick facts page.
The environment has become a campaign issue across the board, especially among young voters.
Every political party except the People’s Party of Canada has a plan to reduce human impact on climate change.
While the Liberal government’s carbon tax has already been rolled out, other parties have proposed a number of different measures to help the environment.
From the Conservative focus on green technology over tax to the NDP’s vision of a carbon-free economy to the Green Party’s 20-point environmental overhaul, the other parties have each proposed some measure of environmental policy.
The PPC has written off climate change as being alarmist, promising instead to withdraw from the Paris Accord and abolish subsidies for green technology.
To view the Conservative Party of Canada’s policies, visit their website.
To view the Liberal Party of Canada’s commitments, visit their website.
To view the New Democratic Party’s commitments, visit their website.
To view the Green Party’s platform, visit their website.
To view the People’s Party of Canada’s platform, visit their website.