Election 2015: How will your party’s economic plan benefit Nanaimo residents?

NANAIMO – The News Bulletin asked the four main party candidates to answer a series of questions on election issues.

Paul Manly, Green Party

It makes good economic sense to build the sectors that benefit from the lower Canadian dollar – manufacturing, tourism, value-added forest products and cultural industries. Nanaimo has enormous potential in all of these areas. We have qualified trades people, a strong tourism industry, and a rich and diverse arts community.

Our community has been negatively impacted by the boom-and-bust swings of rip-and-ship industries. The Green Party understands that in order to create stable, long-term jobs we must make Nanaimo, and all of Canada, a place where small businesses thrive. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the biggest job creators.

We want to reduce red tape for small business owners, create a ‘Green Venture Capital Fund’ and enact ‘Think Small First’ legislation to ensure that when new federal laws and regulations are drafted, their impact on small business is taken into account.

Nanaimo has the great quality of life technology companies love, plus easy access to Vancouver and Victoria. Excellent work is being done to encourage the growing tech sector here and it’s important that we support and expand those efforts to create clean, green tech jobs in our community.

A skilled workforce is essential to these economic activities, but right now our students are graduating with debt sentences. The Green Party’s fully costed platform includes a plan to abolish tuition fees for college, university and skills training programs. Investing in our young people and making post-secondary education accessible will increase our prosperity, equality, productivity and economic competitiveness.

Tim Tessier, Liberal Party

After a decade of Stephen Harper, Canadians are working harder and longer, but the economy is not working for them, and incomes are not keeping up with the cost of living.

Our three-point plan will create jobs with the most significant infrastructure investment in Canadian history – $60 billion in new funding over the next 10 years.

A new Liberal government will invest $1.3 billion over three years – 13 times more than the NDP – to create jobs and opportunities for young Canadians, which will help them get the skills and experience they need to get off to a strong start in their careers.

We will create 40,000 youth jobs each year for the next three years by expanding the Youth Employment Strategy. This includes doubling access to Skills Link, which helps young Canadians at risk of not making a successful transition to the workplace – such as First Nations, Inuit and Métis, persons with disabilities or single parents – find meaningful employment.

Liberals will create thousands of new co-op placements for students in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and business programs by helping employers with a portion of the cost to fill these placements. We will develop or expand pre-apprenticeship training programs to help young Canadians gain the skills they need to enter high-demand trades.

Liberals will help those working to join the middle class by investing in essential social infrastructure, including affordable housing and child care, as well as providing more money to help families with the high cost of raising their kids.

Mark MacDonald, Conservative Party

The Conservative party’s economic plan, based on lower personal and business taxes, is clearly working. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is now posting surpluses, all while increasing funding to health care and other important social and infrastructure programs.

The Conservative government has increased spending in 2015 with $121 million more for veterans, a $1.99 billion increase in Aboriginal Affairs and $2.3 billion more in total benefits for seniors.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has lowered the personal income tax rate to the lowest level since the 1950s, which means individuals have more money to spend, and they do. This is good for business, as is the lowered corporate tax rate (13.5 per cent on profits), which gives companies incentive to grow, meaning more jobs. Canada’s economy is now ranked at the very top of the world, despite an unstable global economic climate.

I have worked the past 18 months towards the announced commitment that a re-elected Conservative government will provide the required financial support to establish the foot passenger ferry to Vancouver. It is the single biggest immediate project that will have a positive, long-lasting economic impact on Nanaimo-Ladysmith. This will encourage commuters to live and spend here while earning their living on the Lower Mainland.

I see tremendous opportunities for economic growth at the Nanaimo Airport for possible secondary manufacturing or aircraft repair. Local First Nations offer options for private sector investment. There are many other ideas. We just have to implement them.

Sheila Malcolmson, New Democratic Party

If people in Nanaimo-Ladysmith have more money at the end of each month, as many will with the NDP’s affordable housing and childcare plans, we know a good portion of that money will be spent close to home. Raising everyone up a little is the right thing to do and it’s good for the local economy.

I know, from 12 years elected to local government, that our region sorely needs a federal partner for the community’s infrastructure priorities. An NDP government’s stable funding for infrastructure and public transit will directly create jobs, a win-win for our economy and communities.

By re-directing the tens of billions Harper’s Conservatives have handed the fossil fuel industry, the NDP will kickstart a transition to a sustainable economy. Renewable energy entrepreneurs here tell me they need a federal government that works with them, and renewable and energy conservation projects are big job creators.

An NDP government will also work to reduce raw log exports and invest in forestry innovation, research and development. Processing more of our raw materials locally will keep jobs here. Tom Mulcair has also committed to increased tourism promotion, reversing cuts made by the Harper Conservatives that have hurt local tourism businesses.

Eighty per cent of new jobs are created by small businesses  and the NDP will support that job creation by cutting their tax rate by 20 per cent. The  Retail Council of B.C. told me retailers and consumers will save money when we reduce credit card transaction fees charged to merchants, freeing up money for them to hire more employees.

Please click here for the next Q&A – How will you ensure that Nanaimo’s environment is protected?