pdfNews Release - Fredericton Chambers Questions That Count for the 2015 Federal Election - Part Three - October 16 2015 (PDF - 284 KB)

16 October 2015 - For Immediate Release

FREDERICTON, NB – Earlier this fall, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce provided each of Fredericton’s four candidates with our 14 “Questions That Count” for the 2015 federal election. Today the chamber is releasing the final four questions and responses in that series - focusing on healthcare, carbon pricing, innovation and entrepreneurship.

“Throughout this series the chamber has tried to find a balance of asking our candidates about issues with a national scope that have particular significance locally,” said Krista Ross, chamber CEO. “I think the candidates have done a good job overall hitting this balance as well. Understanding and being able to put local strengths and needs into a national context is paramount for our representatives. On the healthcare side, we have challenges - particularly demographically - that are not uniform across the country; while on the innovation and entrepreneurship front, there are exciting things happening in Fredericton and that story has to be told.”

Previous releases in this series are available at www.frederictonchamber.ca.

Questions That Count for the 2015 Federal Election

11. What will be your commitment to adequate funding for health care, recognizing that demand for services is a function of local demographics and is one of government’s largest expenditure categories?

Keith Ashfield (CPC):

The delivery of healthcare remains the constitutional responsibility of the Provincial Government. Since 2008, healthcare transfers have been increasing at a faster rate than provincial health budgets; in fact, New Brunswickers spend less on health care as a percentage of their budget than any other province in Canada. Additionally, the percentage of the healthcare budget in New 5 of 5 Brunswick that is covered by the health transfers is the highest in Canada. We will be facing a demographic challenge in the coming decades, but this problem is not unique to New Brunswick. Our demographic problems are based on the fact that we have not been retaining our young people. Creating jobs in New Brunswick, retaining our young people, and growing the economy are the solution to the impending healthcare expense dilemma.

Matt DeCourcey (LPC):

My commitment regarding health care spending rests in a philosophy that our demographics are a strategic advantage.  New Brunswick is well positioned to be a leader in health care innovation and I will work toward identifying investments in research and development.  We are ideally placed for innovation and research that could begin here and then could be used across the country.

Sharon Scott-Levesque (NDPC):

The Conservatives have refused to take a leadership role in addressing the challenges confronting Canada’s cherished public healthcare system, instead imposing reckless, unilateral cuts to funding. An NDP government will restore a strong leadership role for the federal government. We will reverse the Conservative cuts to funding and ensure that funding is targeted to where it is needed most – helping Canadians who don’t have timely access to a doctor, addressing the high cost of prescription drugs, providing greater support for our aging population, tackling mental health and increasing support for families dealing with Alzheimer’s and dementia. We will also review the Conservatives’ changes to the allocation formula which penalize provinces that have aging populations.

A New Democratic government will help more Canadians access a primary care team by:

  • Providing infrastructure funding to help build or expand 200 clinics across Canada; and
  • Creating a new training and recruitment grant to help provinces hire over 7,000 needed doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses and other health professionals.

For this purpose, half a billion dollars has been earmarked over the next four years, including:

  • $300 million to support building 200 more clinics; and
  • $200 million to create recruitment grants for doctors, nurse practitioners and other health providers, to be directed by the provinces.

An NDP government will work with provinces and territories to develop the clinic fund and recruitment grant program in order to improve the focus on prevention, screening, chronic disease care and early detection so health concerns are caught earlier when they are more easily treated.

Furthermore, Tom Mulcair and the NDP, in consultation with provinces, will work towards a plan to support universal comprehensive public drug coverage for all Canadians, regardless of where they live or where they work. Our goal is that Canadians will have access to the prescription medicines they need at little or no cost.

We will work to achieve this by delivering $2.6 billion in new federal funding focused on universal public drug coverage, to be phased in over the next four years and reaching $1.5 billion annually in 2019/2020, an investment that has the potential to generate up to $3 billion in savings at the provincial level.

Mary Lou Babineau (GPC):

The Green Party is absolutely committed to renegotiating the transfer payment formula between the federal and provincial governments. This formula is currently based on the population of each province. We believe that these payments also need to take into account local demographics AND each province’s tax base/tax revenue.

12. Are you prepared to explore private sector provision of certain health care services to lower government costs and improve patient wait times?

Keith Ashfield (CPC):

The delivery of Healthcare remains the constitutional responsibility of the Provincial Government, not the Federal Government. Personally, I am against the privatization of healthcare.

Matt DeCourcey (LPC):

Liberals believe that the quality of our health care system must be improved while maintaining its universality. Every Canadian must have access to timely, publically funded, quality, universal health care, regardless of background, physical needs, geographical location, or income. Addressing Canada’s health care needs requires leadership from the federal government, and Liberals will actively engage with Health Canada, the provinces and territories, experts, and Canadians to determine the best solutions to resolve issues that affect the health of Canadians.

Throughout the past decade there has been a notable absence of federal leadership on health care, although the federal government has a vital role to play. The absence of a federal-provincial partnership and engagement on the expired federal-provincial Health Accord was a missed opportunity.  A Liberal government will call a federal-provincial meeting to reach a long-term agreement on health care funding. We are committed to working with the provinces and territories to make measurable progress on the health care issues that matter to Canadians—such as wait times, the affordability of prescription drugs, and the availability of healthcare.

Sharon Scott-Levesque (NDPC):

Canadians are proud of public healthcare. It’s part of who we are. The NDP is committed to supporting public health care.

Mary Lou Babineau (GPC):

We are 100% committed to lowering health care costs and improving patient wait times, but we believe that the private sector provision of health care services is not the appropriate means to achieve this end. Many other measures must be taken to achieve these goals while continuing to protect our single-payer health care system. For example, we know that the major factor contributing to rising health care costs in Canada is the rising costs of pharmaceuticals. These costs could be drastically reduced if the federal government were to purchase them in bulk. In fact, the Canadian Medical Association has recommended this measure as part of their recommendation of a National Pharmacare Plan. Other effective measures to reduce costs and wait times include: increasing the numbers of doctors and nurses, investing in community-centered recovery beds (at a much lower cost than hospital beds), increasing the number of long-term care beds, expanding home support and home care programs, and achieving better health through prevention and healthy, active living.

13. What is your position on carbon pricing as it relates to economic development and encouraging the development and commercialization of renewable energy sources?

Keith Ashfield (CPC):

If we introduce a carbon tax, the price of everything will increase. The result of this is a decrease in consumer spending, and this loss goes directly into the hands of government. As an alternative to this, our government doubled the amount of R&D funding available to businesses through the Industrial Research Assistance Program, and will continue to fund research which is focused on renewable energy through means other than a tax on nearly everything that both consumers and businesses purchase.

Matt DeCourcey (LPC):

As Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau will attend the December 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, and will invite all Premiers to join him. Within 90 days of the conference, a First Ministers meeting will be held to work together on a framework to combat climate change.

Central to this will be the creation of national emissions-reduction targets, informed by the best economic and scientific analysis. These targets must recognise the economic cost and catastrophic impact that a greater-than two-degree increase in average global temperatures would represent, as well as the necessity for Canada to do its part to prevent that from happening. We believe that Harper’s targets are inadequate and meaningless without a plan to achieve them.

We will ensure that the provinces and territories have adequate tools to design their own policies to meet these commitments, including their own carbon pricing policies. As part of the comprehensive emissions reduction agreement with provinces and territories, we will provide targeted federal funding to help them achieve these goals.

A portfolio of actions appropriate for the diverse economies of each jurisdiction is the only way to significantly reduce Canada’s emissions; there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But the cost of inaction is too high and the federal government has a responsibility to lead, create the conditions and provide the support required for Canada to meet its climate targets.

As a part of our green infrastructure investment boost of nearly $6 billion over the next four years, and almost $20 billion over ten years, we will establish the Canada Green Investment Bond to support both large- and community-scale renewable energy projects. The bond will leverage the federal government’s ability to provide more affordable loan guarantees for clean energy projects, and provide Canadians with the opportunity to invest in clean technologies. The focus of investment will be reducing the costs for commercially viable projects and helping to level the playing field with fossil fuel energy sources.

Sharon Scott-Levesque (NDPC):

The  NDP  understands  that  responding  to  climate  change  with  a  clear  plan will create  jobs, improve our competitiveness and restore Canada’s reputation abroad, while reducing carbon emissions for future generations.

An NDP Government will make it easier for Canadians and businesses to invest in a cleaner future for Canada. We all want a competitive, clean economy, and an NDP Government will partner with provinces, municipalities, industries and our utility companies to finance:

  • Renewable energy projects that will transition our electricity systems away from fossil fuels;
  • Energy efficiency projects to retrofit our businesses and industries, saving them energy costs while improving industrial processes;
  • Adoption of clean technologies like water and soil remediation so that contaminated and at-risk neighbourhoods can be revitalized and sustainably grow into the future.

The NDP has a plan for a Canadian cap and trade system to make polluters pay for their carbon pollution. Individual provinces are also showing leadership by creating their own carbon pricing solutions adapted to their local needs. Allowing Canadians to invest in green bonds will attract the immediate investment needed in our communities as we implement provincial and federal carbon pricing systems to reduce carbon in the longer term.

Mary Lou Babineau (GPC):

The Green Party is in favour of a carbon tax and dividend (credit) program, which would tax polluters at the source and then return the revenue to Canadians in the form of a tax credit (similar to the GST credit program).

14. Fredericton has become a hub of innovation, research and development, startup activity and entrepreneurship. How will your party help grow this aspect of our region’s economy?

Keith Ashfield (CPC):

Creating the conditions for businesses to succeed is critical to increasing innovation, R&D, and start-ups. Our plan remains consistent, because we have already started to see the results of our low-tax, business-centric approach to growing the region’s economy. With our record of increasing assistance under the IRAP program, reducing red-tape, providing predictable infrastructure funding, signing trade agreements, providing training assistance, all while keeping your taxes low, Fredericton’s economy will continue to grow and prosper.

Matt DeCourcey (LPC):

Entrepreneurs in Fredericton and across Canada are vital to strengthen the economy and stimulate job growth. A Liberal government will help grow, secure funding, and innovate, and create an environment that reduces barriers to their success.

We will reduce Employment Insurance Premiums from $2.63 to $2.31 and follow through on Budget 2015’s reduction of the small business tax rate to 9%. We will reinstate the Labour Sponsored Venture Capital Corporation (LSVCC) tax credit, allowing labour funds to make significant investments in small- and medium-sized enterprises which need a steady source of capital to succeed. $500 million will be invested in the federal-provincial Labour Market Agreements to help ensure small- and medium-sized business owners have access to a well-trained labour force. Liberals will make the largest federal investment in community infrastructure in Canadian history helping to not only create immediate jobs but help improve productivity and reduce costs for business over the medium to long term.

A Liberal government will also invest $200 million annually to create sector-specific strategies that support innovation and clean technologies in forestry, fisheries, mining, energy, and agricultural sectors. We will work with provinces, territories, universities, and colleges to support emerging clean tech companies, including research, the commercialization of new products, and training Canadians to be properly skilled for the industries of the future.

Sharon Scott-Levesque (NDPC):

Tom Mulcair understands that to put Fredericton – and Canada - on track, and for middle class families to thrive, we need to take concrete steps to diversify Canada’s economy. This means ensuring the strength of traditional sectors like resource extraction and manufacturing, while seizing new opportunities to innovate and grow.

We’ll start by cutting small business taxes from 11% to 9% to support those that creates 80 percent of all new private sector jobs in Canada. An NDP government will also support Atlantic Canadian innovators by investing in the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, instead of cutting more job-creating resources as the Conservatives have.

Tom Mulcair and the NDP will reinstate the Labour Sponsored Venture Capital Corporations (LSVCC) Tax Credit – abolished by the Conservatives – when the NDP becomes government. This tax credit helps working families to save and invest in the small and medium sized businesses that Fredericton needs to survive.

Tom Mulcair and the NDP are proposing targeted investments in business innovation. We will establish an annual $40 million innovation tax credit for businesses that invest in machinery, equipment and property used in innovation-boosting research and development. We are also investing $105 million over 3 years to help the Canadian forestry sector retool for the future. The proposed investments leverage $270 million in private-sector funds to kick-start Canada’s forestry industry, diversify the wood market and create jobs.

We will support researchers in post-secondary education institutions, including universities, colleges and polytechnics with a total investment of $105 million in new funds over five years.  While also supporting basic research, these new funds will create opportunities for Fredericton researchers to work with small start-ups and help them develop innovative solutions.

Mary Lou Babineau (GPC):

The kind of innovation, research and development start-up activities that are taking place in Fredericton are precisely the focus of the Green Party’s economic policies. These entrepreneurs develop locally, employ locally and their benefits are reinvested into the local economy. In short, they are the backbone of our local communities’ sustainability. In addition to the measures outlined in the first question, Green MPs will support any and all initiatives that will benefit start-up ventures and entrepreneurship.

A dynamic business organization with more than 950 members representing 27,000 employees, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is one of Atlantic Canada’s largest chambers of commerce. Actively engaged in policy development that affects the competitiveness of our members and of the Canadian business environment, the vision of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is community prosperity through business.

Contact: Krista Ross, CEO – (506) 458-8006