The Candidates Talk: seniors, the economy and environment

Welcome back to The Candidates Talk, A special section of the Golden Star during the weeks leading up to the federal election.
In an effort to get to know each candidate and learn about their policies and priorities, the Golden Star will ask each candidate one or two question(s) a week that deal with either a local or federal issue. The questions are written in an email and answered the same way.

  • Apr. 26, 2011 6:00 a.m.

Welcome back to The Candidates Talk, A special section of the Golden Star  during the  weeks leading up to the federal election.

In an effort to get to know each candidate and learn about their policies and priorities, the Golden Star  will ask each candidate one or two question(s) a week that deal with either a local or federal issue. The questions are written in an email and answered the same way.

This week’s questions  are :

How do you plan to take care of seniors?

How can we balance the protection of the environment while continuing to grow the economy in our region?

Since the election is next week, this will be the last issue of The Candidates Talk. A big thank you goes out to all five candidates for participating in this forum.


David Wilks, Conservative Party

1. Seniors

Our Conservative government cares about seniors. That is why in 2008 we increased the amount that can be earned before the GIS is reduced to $3,500. We also increased flexibility for seniors and older workers to access federally regulated pension assets.

As a result of actions taken by the Conservatives, seniors and pensioners will receive about $2.3 billion in additional targeted tax relief for seniors. We also increased the Age Credit amount by $1,000 in 2006, and by another $1,000 in 2009,  doubled the maximum amount of income eligible for the Pension Income Credit to $2,000,  introduced pension income splitting and  increased the age limit for maturing pensions and Registered Retirement Savings Plans.

In addition, Budget 2011, which was blocked by the NDP, had new important measures for seniors: Immediate increase of the GIS by $300 million dollars, and increase from $5,000 to $10,000 for TFSAs, and end to mandatory retirement for federally regulated workers.

Too often seniors are forced to move away from their communities in order to get the help that they need. I will work tirelessly to make sure that seniors can age in place and get the care they need within their communities. The NDP has consistently opposed the positive steps the Conservatives have taken to improve life for seniors.

2. Environment and Economy

The Conservative Party has taken action on a number of fronts to protect our environment. We recognize that a healthy environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. We have passed legislation cracking down on polluters, poachers and wildlife smugglers.

Conservatives also established regulations to raise the renewable fuel content in gasoline and to reduce tailpipe emissions in the production of electricity. We also have made substantial investments in clean energy research and development, including carbon capture and storage. The Conservative Party also established the Clean Energy Dialogue between Canada and the United States, to enhance collaboration on reducing greenhouse gases and combating climate change. We also successfully argued for the principles underlining the Copenhagen Accord, which for the first time ever brought major emitting nations under one agreement, an essential step to addressing climate change. In our budget, we proposed to make new investments to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions including an extension of the ecoENERGY Retrofit-Homes program. Our plan proposes to support economically viable clean energy projects that will assist regions in the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable fuel sources. The NDP opposed these measures last month choosing instead to force an unnecessary and opportunistic election.


Mark Shmigelsky, NDP

1. Seniors

We need to make life more affordable for our seniors, both lower and middle income, by ensuring that pensions are adequate and protected. We will also provide federal leadership on long term and homecare choices so that seniors do not face demoralizing waits in hospital beds, and have the opportunity to be closer to their families. We also believe it’s time with our aging population to have a seniors ministry that would develop a national strategy to care for seniors. The Conservatives continue to make promises that they don’t keep. The prime example being their broken promise not to tax income trusts, and they have to the tune of over 35 billion dollars that they have taken out of seniors’ pockets. It’s our responsibility as Canadians to ensure that our seniors and our veterans are able to live with dignity and are treated with the utmost respect and I promise to work hard to make that happen.  All of their lives they have taken care of us, it’s time we return the favour and take care of them.

2. Environment and Economy

The first step is to recognize that a healthy environment and healthy economy go together. After that, we need to make sure we have environmental protection in place. In the last couple decades we’ve lost sight of this; we’ve stopped listening to our scientists, and that needs to change.

It’s not about good jobs and a bad environment, or vice-versa, it’s about the two working together. We need to invest in green energy, whether that’s solar, wind, geothermal or other clean sources.

It’s really about the government taking leadership and making sure environmental protection and industry are working together.

Betty Aitchison, Liberal Party

1. Seniors

Good government respects the efforts, toil, and commitment of its older citizens. This respect is demonstrated in programs and services that allow seniors to age with dignity, with access to a full range of services designed to maintain health and the quality of daily life-practices and life choices for maintenance of health and prevention of disease. The best choice for almost anyone is to remain in their home, living surrounded by the people and memories of a life well lived. And where and when a person needs access to health services, be it a visit to a GP or gerontologist, time with specialist, surgical procedures, or follow up care and support-that will be available to all Canadians, regardless of location or financial situation.

As part of a new arrangement with the provinces and territories, a Liberal government will continue the current six per cent health care funding escalator beyond 2014, and have two priorities for health care reform:

Homecare services: Ensuring high quality care in the home, including for priority areas like mental health and palliative care, everywhere in Canada; and

Drug coverage: Reducing the cost of prescription drugs for the health care system and ensure that every Canadian – from coast to coast– has adequate drug coverage.

2. Environment and Economy

Is it wrong to say “I don’t know”?  I hope that it’s not. And I hope that readers and voters will respect my saying so, rather than giving them some answer full of political babble and party line statements. Because I really do not know the answer to this very complex and very important question.

And I am not sure anyone really does; know the full answer to this question I mean. Having said that, just as with the question above there are a number of people, from Kootenay Columbia and beyond, who have information essential to our making a decision on how we manage to honour our commitment to both the environment of Kootenay Columbia and the people who need to make a living in the region.  And bringing those people together, not just to talk but to listen to one another and to make difficult decisions, is something that the Liberal Party of Canada and I as their candidate, are committed to making happen.

Bill Green, Green Party

The Green Party platform includes the following initiatives related to seniors:

• Review workplace policies to end mandatory retirement and provide for flexible retirement benefits for those seniors who want to continue working.

• Review federal and provincial laws regulating the administration of pension plans, laws which now allow failure of pension trusts, and the loss of pension benefits which workers have earned

• Develop a set of national home care, 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.

• Require that all corporate pension plans be audited to ensure that they are adequately funded and properly managed and set a policy directive to take corrective action when they are not.

• Work to enhance CPP by phasing in the doubling of the target income replacement rate from 25% to 50 per cent of income received during working years.

• Review, in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, the current social and legal policies to ensure that citizens and law enforcement officials recognize elder abuse, prevent it where possible, and proceed with appropriate charges and consequences when elder abuse has occurred.

• Establish and fund a special program to provide grants to non-profit societies setting up palliative care hospices.

• Guarantee the right to draw up a “living will” that gives the power to limit or refuse medical intervention and treatment so the person has the choice of dying with dignity.

2. Environment and Economy

Our vision is that we need a healthy environment with diverse and productive ecosystems in order to sustain the economy in our region.  There does not have to be a ‘trade off’ between protection of the environment and economic growth.  We can, and in many instances do have sustainably managed forests throughout this riding, including companies which manage their forest lands and manufacturing to ‘Forest Stewardship Council’ standards.  The Green Party supports research and marketing initiatives to improve forest stewardship practices and markets for certified forest products.

Mining can also be undertaken in environmentally-sustainable ways, with adequate provision for pollution prevention and reclamation.  Indeed, work on pollution prevention and reclamation creates ‘green jobs’ – many people in this riding are employed in this type of work.  The Green Party will introduce a ‘Corporate Social Responsibility Act’ to regulate the mining industry, requiring the highest environmental practices.

Green jobs can also be sustained and created in the renewable energy sector, for example small run of river hydro projects where they can be constructed and operated without environmental damage.  I do a lot of work in my professional life dealing with the impacts of hydro projects on aquatic ecosystems, and I believe that it is possible to build truly ‘green’ run of river hydro projects – in fact, there are several good examples in this riding.

Brent Bush, Independent

1. Seniors

As a past Director of the Kimberley Food Bank and as the Chair/Co-Chair of the Kimberley Affordable Housing Committee since it started in 2007, I have a demonstrated concern for Kimberley’s seniors. As local real estate prices have escalated so too have municipal taxes and other costs. Many seniors in communities throughout the Riding find it hard to live in their own homes. The supports they thought existed were removed by a provincial government more concerned with tax breaks and trickle-down economics. During this election all the major parties are offering programs to help seniors.

I hope they are sincere, not just window dressing to attract votes. As your MP I will support efforts to improve the care and well being of seniors throughout the Riding.

2. Environment and Economy

We can have economic growth and protect the environment by changing our focus to a green economy. We need to embrace new ways of thinking, of building, of using renewable energy and by being less materials intensive. Focusing on local food production and local economies helps us establish and maintain a green footprint. It’s really about changing the way we think.