Getting to know your Federal Candidates in Beacon Hill-Cyrville

Getting to know your Federal Candidates in Beacon Hill-Cyrville

The federal election is almost upon us and many have a big choice to make on October 21st. As your city Councillor I decided to take the opportunity to sit down with the candidates running in our local riding of Ottawa-Vanier.

I met with all of them over the past month and asked them six questions that will hopefully help you get to know them better. Here's what they all had to say:

MONA FORTIER, LIBERAL CANDIDATE

1) What will you and your party do to help with the housing and homelessness crisis in our city?

I was proud to help secure a federal financial commitment of over $3.65 million for the Shepherds of Good Hope Montreal Road Supportive Housing Build. This will provide 42 locally affordable homes meant for those who have experienced chronic homelessness and require 24-hour services. She also secured investments for the Veterans House in Wateridge, which will provide around 20 units for homeless veterans, Canada’s first veterans homeless shelter.

Since being elected, our government has been working to make life more affordable for Canadians.  We heard from Canadians that home ownership seemed out of reach, so we launched the First-time Home Buyer Incentive. It will help Canadians lower their down payment as well as monthly mortgage payments & making home ownership more affordable.

The Liberal government introduced the National Housing Strategy, a 10 year, $40-billion plan to give more Canadians a place to call home. A key element of the NHS is the Canada Housing Benefit. If elected, we will work with provinces and territories to develop a $4 billion Canada Housing Benefit to be launched in 2020. Once fully implemented, it will assist at least 300,000 families; provide an estimated average of $2,500 per year to each household recipient; and be delivered directly to households.

2) Seniors are a major part of the community; we are always trying to help them. We recently renovated the Pat Clarke Community Centre to give our Gloucester 50+ Centre a new space. What do you, and you party, plan to do in terms of seniors?

To make life more affordable for people as they age, we will move forward with increasing the Old Age Security benefit by 10 per cent for seniors when they turn 75 and will continue to raise it along with inflation. This will help to lift more than 20,000 seniors out of poverty – two-thirds of whom are women – and will give greater financial security to more than three million seniors every year. For most seniors, it will mean up to $729 in additional financial help every year once they turn 75. We will also move forward with more help for seniors who have lost their partners. Most often, the surviving partners are women. We will work with the provinces and territories to give even more support to survivors, by increasing the Canada Pension Plan by 25%.

We are committed to help make retirement more financially secure for more Canadians, helping Canadian seniors keep more money in their pockets, receive the benefits they are entitled to, protect their workplace pensions and stay active and involved in their communities. A re-elected Liberal government will continue to invest in home and palliative care.

3) As you know, we have the highest concentration of Syrian refugees in our ward located at the Donald Street towers. We were very happy to receive them in 2016 and really appreciated the federal government’s help in that first year. Since then we’ve had some additional pressures added in our community, with some schools bursting at the seams and our food cupboard being near capacity. We now would like to see more support from our federal counterparts in terms of funding or programming to help our Syrian friends acquire crucial job skills. What do you plan on doing to help our Syrian friends?

Our government recognizes the courage and bravery demonstrated by refugees who are forced to flee their country in search of a more safe and secure place to call home. We understand and take very seriously our international obligations to protect those fleeing persecution. For many refugees from all over the globe, Ottawa—Vanier has been a welcoming community and a place of residence. Like all permanent residents, Syrian refugees have access to settlement services, which include language training, for example at St-Joseph Adult High School, as well as career placement services and community support. 

While immigration benefits Canada as a whole, not every community – including those experiencing serious labour shortages – is able to make the most of the contributions new Canadians can bring. We will also build on the successful pre arrival and arrival services that provide critical employment services to new Canadians. 

4) We’ve had some tremendous support from both our provincial and federal counterparts in funding Phases 1 and 2 of LRT, but there’s still more work to do. Would you and your party be willing to help fund phase 3 of LRT and other public transportation projects?

As the member for Ottawa—Vanier, our riding is incredibly fortunate to have the six LRT stops. The LRT will transform the way residents get to work, to school and even to go to see friends on the weekends. This will not only reduce the time needed for commuters to get to work, but also reduce congestion. 

Should the city of Ottawa present a financial request for further expansion of the Ottawa LRT, I will be pleased to champion this alongside my provincial and city colleagues. I pledge to continue to work with elected officials, community association leaders and residents throughout this exercise.

5) What do you, and your party, plan on doing to tackle the opioid crisis? Will you take a leadership role?

The opioid crisis continues to have a devastating impact on communities and thousands of families across the country. Despite significant actions taken to date, more needs to be done to help address the crisis and save lives.

The Liberal government has taken action by investing $231 million that support a range of actions to improve treatment, address stigma and gather more data to inform our decisions. This investment will allow us to continue working toward turning the tide of this crisis.

We took key actions to address the crisis in the past 2 years by restoring harm reduction as a key pillar in our strategy. We have also approved over 25 supervised consumption sites and passed the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act.

We are also committed to making it easier for health professionals to provide access to methadone and prescription heroin. We are doing so because evidence shows that any barrier to drug treatment can deter patients from getting the help they need.

6) Why are you running?

I’ve been working for the people of Ottawa—Vanier for the past two and a half years and would love the opportunity to keep working for them. I have always believed that I can best serve my community by getting involved and taking action. I’ve never been one to sit on the sidelines, because it is through action that we can create positive change.

I want to keep focusing on making life more affordable for residents, protecting our environment and helping our local businesses prosper. Ottawa—Vanier is strong because of its diversity, which is representative of the Canadian social fabric. If I’m elected, I will continue to represent our community’s multiple voices at the House of Commons.

I know it is important to come together to build a stronger and more prosperous community. As the Liberal candidate for Ottawa—Vanier, I believe that we can best serve the riding by working together to strengthen our community. It’s to continue helping others and supporting the development of Ottawa—Vanier that I want to represent you for a second term.

STÉPHANIE MERCIER, NDP CANDIDATE

 1) What will you and your party do to help with the housing and homelessness crisis in our city?

A New Democrat government will create 500,000 units of quality, affordable housing in the next ten years, with half of that done within five years. This will be achieved with the right mix of effective measures that work in partnership with provinces and municipalities, build capacity for social, community, and affordable housing providers and co-ops, and meet environmental energy-efficiency goals. This ambitious plan will create jobs in Ottawa, and help Canadians get the affordable housing they need. Our federal investment will begin with $5 billion in additional funding in the first year and a half of a New Democrat government.

In order to kick-start the construction of co-ops, social, and non-profit housing, we will set up dedicated fast-start funds to streamline the application process and help communities get the expertise and assistance they need to get projects off the ground today, not years from now.

A New Democrat government will also spur the construction of affordable homes by waiving the federal portion of the GST/HST on the construction of new affordable rental units – a simple change that will help get new units built faster and keep them affordable for the long term.

These measures will help address the housing crisis at the source, but we also need to make sure that families that are hurting get help now. Families do not have years to wait when every day is a struggle and a constant worry. That’s why we’ll provide immediate relief for families that are struggling to afford rent in otherwise suitable housing. In addition, the NDP plan to offer rental benefits of up to $5,000 each year while we bring forward long-term solutions to the housing affordability crisis.

2) Seniors are a major part of the community, we are always trying to help them. We recently renovated the Pat Clarke Community Centre to give our Gloucester 50+ Centre a new space. What do you, and you party, plan to do in terms of seniors?

To deliver these results all across the country, we will lead a National Seniors Strategy and will work with the provinces, territories, and Indigenous governments to make seniors' health care a priority, reduce isolation, and tackle seniors’ poverty. This will include a funded national dementia strategy and an elder-abuse prevention plan developed with seniors to put an end to abuse and neglect in our communities.

Our national pharmacare for all plan will provide prescription medicine to all seniors, saving seniors hundreds of dollars every year and ensuring that no one needs to choose between medicine and other essentials.

Seniors deserve a retirement that’s financially secure and dignified. And no senior should miss out on benefits they qualify for because of a paperwork oversight – but that’s exactly what’s happening to tens of thousands of seniors today. We’ll put in place a one-year delay to help seniors at risk of having their GIS benefits suspended for being unable to make the required income statement.

Many seniors are themselves caregivers to a loved one, or rely on the caregiving of family members. In order to help make life a little more affordable for caregivers, who are overwhelmingly women, we’ll make the Canada Caregiver Tax Credit refundable. This will provide thousands of dollars to the most low-income caregivers, many of whom have given up work completely to care for a loved one.

Every senior should have a safe and affordable place to call home. Our commitment to create half a million affordable-housing units in the next decade will include accessible housing that will increase choices for seniors. We’ll also support connection to community and tackle seniors’ isolation by working with cities to make transit more affordable and convenient, create more community recreation spaces, and support innovative housing solutions like intergenerational co-housing

3) As you know, we have the highest concentration of Syrian refugees in our ward located at the Donald Street towers. We were very happy to receive them in 2016 and really appreciated the federal government’s help in that first year. Since then we’ve had some additional pressures added in our community, with some schools bursting at the seams and our food cupboard being near capacity. We now would like to see more support from our federal counterparts in terms of funding or programming to help our Syrian friends acquire crucial job skills. What do you plan on doing to help our Syrian friends?

Immigration makes Canada stronger, welcoming new talent and energy from around the world builds our communities and boosts our economy. Canada is one of the most diverse countries in the world and we are richer and stronger for it.

As the world experiences an unprecedented refugee crisis, Canada also has a vital role to play in resettling people forced out of their homes by conflict, persecution, and disasters. But under the Liberal government, the backlog of asylum seekers is set to more than double in the next few years. A New Democrat government will fix the system to get rid of the backlog and work with Canadians to resettle refugees in our communities and ensure that they are given the support they need to build successful lives and new homes here in Canada.

4) We’ve had some tremendous support from both our provincial and federal counterparts in funding Phases 1 and 2 of LRT, but there’s still more work to do. Would you and your party be willing to help fund phase 3 of LRT and other public transportation projects?

When it comes to getting around, public transit should be a convenient and affordable option that makes your commute easier, all while taking cars off the road, cutting emissions, and reducing gridlock.

New Democrats understand that getting our communities moving is critical for our economy and our quality of life. That’s why we’ll put in place a permanent, direct, allocation-based funding mechanism for modern public transit across Canada for the long run.

Quality public transit is essential to making our cities and towns run. Municipalities are already investing in making their transit systems better and more environmentally friendly – it’s time that they had a federal partner to help.

A New Democrat government will modernize and expand public transit in communities across Canada, and ensure that federal transit funding flows with an emphasis on scaling up low-carbon transit projects, like zero-emissions buses and electric trains, with the goal of electrifying transit and other municipal fleets by 2030. Working with provinces and municipalities that identify it as a priority, we will help them build towards fare-free transit to ease commutes, help people make ends meet, and lower emissions.

5) What do you, and your party, plan on doing to tackle the opioid crisis? Will you take a leadership role?

Across Canada, eleven Canadians die every day from opioid-related causes. Tens of thousands of families have tragically lost parents, partners, siblings, and children to the out-of-control opioid crisis. Every part of the country has been impacted by these highly addictive and dangerous drugs, from our busiest downtown neighbourhoods to the most remote communities. And too often, the impacts are even worse for the most vulnerable and marginalized people.

Despite the obvious harm that these drugs are causing and the shocking death toll that they’ve caused, over the last four years the Liberal government has failed to mobilize an effective response. They have not declared a public-health emergency, nor taken any steps to investigate the role that drug companies may have played in fuelling the crisis. The federal government is lagging behind the urgent action being taken by provinces like British Columbia.

New Democrats believe that there is much more we can do to save lives and support those struggling with opioids. In government, we will declare a public-health emergency and commit to working with all levels of government, experts, and Canadians to end the criminalization and stigma of drug addiction, so that people struggling with addiction can get the help they need without fear of arrest, while getting tough on the real criminals - those who traffic in and profit from illegal drugs. We’ll work with the provinces to support overdose-prevention sites and expand access to treatment on demand for people struggling with addiction. We will also launch an investigation into the role drug companies may have played in fueling the opioid crisis, and seek meaningful financial compensation from them for the public costs of this crisis.

6) Why are you running?

In my work as a nurse at Montfort, I’ve seen countless patients forgo care after leaving the hospital because they couldn’t afford to pay. Many of our neighbours are now forced to choose between filling their prescriptions, putting a meal on the table, or a roof over their heads. It would go against my values if I didn’t do something to address this inequality, so I decided to run for the NDP in Ottawa-Vanier. A New Democrat government would implement real measures to make life more affordable: head-to-toe healthcare that includes pharmacare, dental, and mental health care, investing in affordable housing, creating a national childcare strategy, and removing barriers to accessing EI for those who need it. This year, I worked closely with Indigenous communities in Nunavut to conserve natural resources in the face of climate change. Canada is warming at twice the global average, and I’m deeply concerned by the lack of Canadian climate leadership we’ve seen over the last four years. I believe that it’s critical for Canada to transition to a green economy while protecting working families, and the NDP’s plan to address climate change is the kind of vision we need. We plan to create 300,000 green jobs, continue carbon pricing, and invest in fare free public, low-carbon public transit. Similar measures have already been implemented around the world with great success, and it’s time we did our part to address this global crisis.

ORIANA NGABIRANO, GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE

1) What will you and your party do to help with the housing and homelessness crisis in our city?

Recognizing that poverty combined with the lack of access to affordable housing are major factors in homelessness, our main priority to is to implement a Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI). A GLI would provide a regular payment to every Canadian, at a level above the poverty line, to meet Canadians' basic housing, food and other needs and ensure that no person’s income falls below what is necessary for health, life and dignity. Additionally, we will appoint a minister of Housing to oversee the development and implementation of a national affordable housing plan, which would include changing the mandate of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to include affordable, non-market co-operative housing, and also set an annual rate of building affordable housing.

2) Seniors are a major part of the community; we are always trying to help them. We recently renovated the Pat Clarke Community Centre to give our Gloucester 50+ Centre a new space. What do you, and you party, plan to do in terms of seniors?

Seniors comprise a growing proportion of Canada’s total population, a majority of whom are women. We built the society we now enjoy, have a wealth of experience and continue to contribute to the economic and social life of our communities and country. 
An essential duty of the social contract between government and citizens is to make sure we can live fulfilling and dignified lives in our senior years. The Green Party pledges such as the Guaranteed Livable Income, Pharmacare, public transportation, home retrofits and affordable housing all contribute to supporting our quality of life. The Green Party will work towards the development of a National Seniors Strategy. We will review workplace policies to end mandatory retirement and provide flexible retirement benefits for those who want to keep working. We will also work to enhance the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) by phasing in the doubling of the target income replacement rate from 25% to 50% of income received during working years, and ensuring that all seniors who qualify are made aware of the available federal income supplements and properly instructed on how to apply for them.

The green party wants to develop, in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, a set of national home care objectives in a National Home Care Policy, that incorporates and improves upon existing policies affecting eldercare, including but not restricted to ensuring couples needing support and care can continue to live together, economic allowances (such as tax rebates), living choices, transportation, and respite care.

3) As you know, we have the highest concentration of Syrian refugees in our ward located at the Donald Street towers. We were very happy to receive them in 2016 and really appreciated the federal government’s help in that first year. Since then we’ve had some additional pressures added in our community, with some schools bursting at the seams and our food cupboard being near capacity. We now would like to see more support from our federal counterparts in terms of funding or programming to help our Syrian friends acquire crucial job skills. What do you plan on doing to help our Syrian friends?

Our Syrian friends have been enormously brave, surviving their conflict at home, and coming to a different country in search of a better life. The way the current government has handled the refugee crisis has been irresponsible, not in number but in the planning for their integration and the support system given to them. The Green Party will concentrate on the integration of refugees into our society by funding language and skills training, as fluency in our official languages is imperative to ensure that they are able to join the workforce and provide for their families. Most refugees had careers in Syria, and were doctors, lawyers and engineers, whose credentials are not recognized in our country because of barriers set by professional societies. The Green Party will press professional societies to remove unnecessary barriers hindering the recognition of professional credentials of immigrants.

Canada’s multiculturality is one of our greatest assets, we will invest to make sure no one is left behind.

4) We’ve had some tremendous support from both our provincial and federal counterparts in funding Phases 1 and 2 of LRT, but there’s still more work to do. Would you and your party be willing to help fund phase 3 of LRT and other public transportation projects?

Increased investments in active transportation are absolutely necessary.  The Green Party believes strongly in public transportation and relieving the congestion in our cities. Working together with municipal and federal government we will work towards solutions to increase and optimize our public transportation system, including Ottawa’s LRT system. The Green Party will increase funding to stimulate a massive re-investment in public transportation and provide financial support to provide free public transit passes to those living below the poverty line. Increased investments in active transportation are absolutely necessary.  

5) What do you, and your party, plan on doing to tackle the opioid crisis? Will you take a leadership role?

The Green Party will take a leadership role in tackling the Opioid crisis. We believe that drug addictions are a health problem and not as criminal offences. Evidence from other countries suggests that punitive approaches result in a higher number of deaths and negative health impacts. We believe that substance abuse and addiction are complex issues that require a range of approaches and a variety of treatment and education programs. Access to safe supply and mental health support are key. Our focus will be focused on harm reduction, treatment, and prevention.

6) Why are you running?

Because I believe that we have the solutions for every problem we face today and thus for ages, what’s missing is a strong political will and a vision that goes beyond the next elections. I believe we have the resources and talent to create a truly just society. I also strongly trust Fair and Equal representation is not only key to foster civic engagement but also crucial for the effectiveness of those solution. 

What inspired me to run for Ottawa-Vanier with Green Party of Canada was a vision & an approach based on evidence with a focus on sustainability.

I am a determined to look at what is best for my community, proudly representing Ottawa-Vanier. Let’s move forward together.

PAUL DURST, PPC CANDIDATE

1) What will you and your party do to help with the housing and homelessness crisis in our city?

We’ll be sticking to things that are within our jurisdiction, but it’s absolutely a major concern for us. One of the things I’m most concerned about is the homelessness of our veterans. We’ve got a very good veteran’s platform out which shows them and gives them the respect they deserve. Our question is why are there 5000 homeless veterans across Canada right now? We’re going to help solve that problem.

2) Seniors are a major part of the community; we are always trying to help them. We recently renovated the Pat Clarke Community Centre to give our Gloucester 50+ Centre a new space. What do you, and you party, plan to do in terms of seniors?

What we plan on doing for seniors is what we plan on doing for all Canadians and all groups and that’s to try to keep more money in their pockets. We’ll do this by lowering taxes, we believe Canadians are intelligent and can spend their money better than the government can. We want to keep more money in their pockets so that they have more options on what to do with it.

3) As you know, we have the highest concentration of Syrian refugees in our ward located at the Donald Street towers. We were very happy to receive them in 2016 and really appreciated the federal government’s help in that first year. Since then we’ve had some additional pressures added in our community, with some schools bursting at the seams and our food cupboard being near capacity. We now would like to see more support from our federal counterparts in terms of funding or programming to help our Syrian friends acquire crucial job skills. What do you plan on doing to help our Syrian friends?

I think we need more support for the food banks in our riding to help our Syrian friends. Right now many organizations are trying to help them and do the best they can to support our food banks with what little they have to give. Again, by keeping more money in the pockets of Canadian and lowering taxes we can help everyone live there lives a little easier and let them decide what they want to do with their money.

4) We’ve had some tremendous support from both our provincial and federal counterparts in funding Phases 1 and 2 of LRT, but there’s still more work to do. Would you and your party be willing to help fund phase 3 of LRT and other public transportation projects?

I look at it from an environmental perspective; the more people we can get on public transportation the better it is for our environment. We certainly want to have good public transit even though it is a municipal concern and we want to leave it in their hands to build and put in place. Bur absolutely, for this riding specifically the more people we get on public transit the lower our carbon footprint and the better it is for the environment.

5) What do you, and your party, plan on doing to tackle the opioid crisis? Will you take a leadership role?

I want to put my emphasis on this issue, I want us to leverage whatever federal resources we can to help on this crisis. Now I understand at the municipal and provincial levels you’re looking at the individuals, the victims of opioids, and there’s a healthcare responsibility that goes with that. But I think the federal government has a responsibility in this as well. This is where we can work with municipalities and provinces across the country to fight this crisis. We have to get these killers, like carfentanil, off the streets.

6) Why are you running?

I‘m running for my family, I have five children and I’m looking at their future. When I grew up going to high school as a teenager I knew I would finish school, I would get a job, maybe do some post secondary education, get married and maybe have children one day. I know my children don’t have that same vision today because of affordability.

My responsibility as a father is to make sure that my children will have something for the future and have a Canada they can prosper in. I want them to be able to have the same hopes that I had.

It’s really about families and individuals and makings sure they can have a great place to raise their kids. I don’t want them to be afraid to have kids because they don’t think they can afford it.

JOEL BERNARD, CONSERVATIVE CANDIDATE

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