Affordability and issues around it were a main focus for questions addressed to provincial candidates on Wednesday, when the Guelph Chamber of Commerce hosted a virtual question and answer event.
Affordability is a huge factor when it comes to housing in the province and candidates were asked what recommendations their parties support when it comes to to the issue.
“We’ll have many as-of-right zoning changes that will allow us to have laneway houses, tiny homes as well as develop existing family homes into three unit individual housing opportunities,” said Raechelle Devereaux, Liberal candidate.
“We want to prevent landlords from using renovictions and other bad practices, driving up rent prices in an area,” said James Parr, NDP candidate. “We have to protect renters and we have to bring down housing prices so everyone can afford to work and live in their community.”
“Cracking down on rampant speculation in the housing market, especially vacant homes and corporations buying up homes, so that first-time home buyers especially are at a level playing field to buy their first home,” said Mike Schreiner of the Green Party.
The candidates were asked how their party will fight the rising cost of living in the province and how they will tackle the affordability crisis.
"We want to implement a $20 minimum wage, phased in over our first term and also make it easy for small businesses to access a fund if they're struggling to make sure their employees get what they deserve," said Parr.
"Global oil shocks have significantly, negatively effected our quality of life our economy and the cost of everything," answered Schreiner. "I believe Ontario should be the global leader in electrifying transportation. We have the money to manufacture the supply chain to get it done."
Devereaux pointed out for small and medium-sized businesses it may be a challenge to achieve minimum wage increases since they were so hard-hit over the pandemic. "Working with stakeholders, including businesses to plan on a regional level of the implementation of those regionally set living wages. Which in the city of Guelph is $18.10 (per hour)."
"We would immediately double social assistance rates and index them to inflation so people don't live in legislative poverty any longer," said Schreiner.
"Under a Liberal government we will be transforming our income security systems that include our old age security, Ontario Works and ODSP towards a basic income model," responded Devereaux.
The Liberals have committed to an increase of 20 per cent to ODSP by 2023. Parr said those who receive ODSP reinvest the money they get back into the community.
He wants to make sure those on ODSP have access to pharamcare, dental care and mental health care.
"We have committed to re-implementing the basic income demonstration project and I will be advocating that Guelph be considered as one of these sites," said Devereaux.
As jobs transition and become more automated, Parr wants universal basic income to protect those people who may lose their jobs.
"The first and most important step in delivering a basic income in our province is to immediately double social assistance rates, to bring people on Ontario Works and ODSP up to the low income cut-off level," said Schreiner.
He wants to eliminate the red tape for people applying for social assistance programs.
"Ontarians living with disabilities live 40 per cent below the poverty threshold and some expressed they have no option other than to seek medically assisted suicide. What will you party do to ensure that the quality of life for those with disabilities is raised to a reasonable standard?" asked facilitator Shakiba Shayani, Guelph Chamber of Commerce CEO.
Schreiner said we have a responsibility as a society to meet peoples basic needs and this is why his party is calling to double ODSP supports.
By offering pharmacare, dental care and mental health care it will help those on ODSP but Parr said it isn't enough and ODSP rates should keep up with inflation. He said ODSP rates are the number one priority for the NDP.
"I am an incredible advocate for the Ontario Disability Support Program," said Devereaux. She said she is proud to stand with the Liberal Party because the voices of her community will effect change.
All four local major party candidates were invited to attend, event-viewers were told. No reason was provided for Progressive Conservative candidate Peter McSherry's absence.
McSherry has not participated in any candidates events so far this campaign.