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Q&A with Newmarket-Aurora Candidates: NDP Yvonne Kelly

NewmarketToday sent a series of questions to each of the candidates about a wide range of issues; here are the answers in their own words
2021-09-14-Yvonne Kelly-JQ
Newmarket-Aurora NDP candidate Yvonne Kelly.
NewmarketToday sent a series of questions to each of the candidates in the Newmarket-Aurora riding about a wide range of issues.

Candidates were provided the exact same questions, the same amount of time to respond and a limited word count for each question. None of the candidate's responses have been edited. NewmarketToday will publish each response received by deadline.

Here is how NDP candidate Yvonne Kelly responded: 

What do you want voters to know about you? (50-word limit)

I am a social worker and have worked as a community developer for 30 years. I am a mother of 5 and grandmother of 2. I am the Chair of the Social Planning Council of York Region and co-founder of the Affordable Housing Coalition of YR.

What’s the most pressing issue in the 2021 federal election campaign and why? (50-word limit)

The most pressing issue in this election is our climate crisis. We are witnessing cataclysmic climate events that threaten us and the existence of our planet. If we take bold action now to reverse it, we can also create a sustainable and green economy for future generations.

What specifically will your party do to improve the post-pandemic economy, and address the cost of living, labour shortages and growing deficit? (250-word limit)

Cost of living is a main concern; New Democrats will implement universal pharmacare and childcare to remove those costs and allow more Canadians, mainly women to return to work. Housing is another area that we must address. We will invest in creating 500,000 new affordable units which at the same creates good jobs. And we will attack the root causes of the housing crisis with a foreign buyer’s speculation tax and work to end money laundering in the housing sector.

Labour shortages are often due to workers not having the requisite skills. We will invest heavily in targeted training and re-training programs. We will assist businesses by continuing the wage and rental subsidies until they’re back on their feet. Pharmacare will reduce benefit costs to businesses by $600/employee/year and long-term hiring bonuses will pay for the employee portion of EI and CPP for new or rehired staff. As these programs will offset certain costs, it can allow businesses to offer higher compensation which will assist with recruitment of new staff.

To address the deficit we will raise revenues by returning the corporate tax rate to the pre-2010 level of 18%, implement a tax increase of 2% on highest income earners and a wealth tax of 1% on our wealthiest Canadians. We will address tax loopholes/tax havens that are playing a huge role in our rising deficit. These actions combined, will help to alleviate the debt-GDP ratio and allow us to invest infrastructure, putting Canadians to work. (Answer cut off as word limit exceeded). 

What’s your party’s plan to address the issue of affordable housing? (200-word limit)

We have a very comprehensive housing plan. It starts with building 500,000 new affordable units across Canada and fast-tracking the availability of federal funding for not-for profit organizations and co-ops so they can build truly affordable homes more quickly. We’ll kick-start the construction of affordable homes by waiving the federal portion of the GST/HST on construction of new affordable rental units; a simple change that will keep new units affordable for the long term. We will provide rent supplements to those struggling to maintain a home right now. We’ll re-introduce 30-year terms to CMHC insured mortgages on entry-level homes for first time home buyers. This allows for smaller monthly payments, freeing up funds to help make ends meet. The NDP will also assist with closing costs by doubling the Home Buyer’s Tax Credit to $1,500. And we’ll get at the root cause of sky-rocketing prices –the commodification of housing. To put an end to speculation that’s fuelling high housing prices, we’ll implement a 20% Foreign Buyer’s tax on the sale of homes to individuals who aren’t Canadian citizens or permanent residents. New Democrats will also fight money laundering, which fuels organized crime and drives up housing prices.

Multiple election polls show climate change continues to be a ranking concern in this election. What specific actions will your party take to address this issue? (150-word limit)

The NDP will set a target of reducing Canada’s emissions by at least 50% from 2005 levels by 2030. We will create and fund a Climate Accountability Office, to provide independent oversight of federal climate progress. We will continue with carbon pricing while making it fairer and rolling back loopholes the Liberal government has given to big polluters. We will fulfill Canada’s G-20 commitment to eliminate the fossil fuel subsidies and redirect these funds to low carbon initiatives, and make sure that future governments can’t reverse this by putting in place legislation to ban any future oil, gas and pipeline subsidies. We’ll work with the provinces and territories to make Canada an innovation leader on methane reduction. The federal government can also model change, by becoming a trail-blazer in energy efficiency, clean technologies and renewable energy use. We will lead by example and procure from Canadian companies producing clean technology.

Six years after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its 94 Calls to Action, the majority of them have yet to be fully implemented. How will your party advance reconciliation with our Indigenous peoples? (200-word limit)

There are four directions to highlight. First, we will go forward with actually implementing the TRC and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Second, we will end the costly and painful process/history of litigating issues in the courts against Indigenous Peoples. Third we will develop with First Nations/Metis/Inuit a National Action Plan for Reconciliation, provide trauma informed support to all who have been re-traumatized by the discoveries and include a special prosecutor to investigate the justice and criminal aspects. Fourth, New Democrats will work in partnership with Indigenous women, the families of the missing and murdered, and communities to implement the Inquiry’s Calls for Justice and calls to action brought forward by communities. This includes establishing a comprehensive plan to address violence against Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQI2S+ People. Lastly, we will address the social determinants of health as they manifest in FN/M/I communities including clean water, adequate housing, education gaps, equitable funding for social services, mental and physical health services, and pathways for economic opportunities for individuals and communities. All this would be underscored by the rights of First Nations to manage their affairs and provide prior consent as equal partner nations in any endeavors.

Briefly outline your party’s stance on: ensuring there are enough health-care providers; universal pharmacare; and improving access to mental health services. (200-word limit)

The NDP recognizes that while we have a shortage of doctors and health professional in this country, we also have an abundance of foreign trained professionals; we commit to implementing the steps to ensure these individuals can work to provide us with top quality care and to have a secure livelihood for themselves and their families. Pharmacare has been a top priority for the NDP since we ushered in publicly funded health care. You can count on us to deliver on that promise unlike the Liberals who have been talking about it since 1997. It will allow us to safeguard the lives of Canadians who cannot afford their medications and it will save the provinces millions of dollars as we stand up to large pharmaceutical corporations who have been gouging us for decades. Improving mental health services can no longer be seen as separate from health care. Providing coverage for mediations for mental health to all who are not covered by workplace plans will be our first task followed by working with the provinces to expand services so that they are accessible to people in communities no matter where they live across Canada.

Many young adults in Newmarket-Aurora are unable to find a job that allows them to support themselves, they can’t afford to buy or even rent a home of their own, and they are concerned about the impact of the pandemic on their education, mental health, the economy and their future. What’s your message to them? (100-word limit)

New Democrats are listening to youth. Unlike other parties, the NDP will never ask young to settle for gig work. We will build for a future/green economy, invest in sectors that provide good, living wage jobs with benefits. We will lower or eliminate costs on: pharmacare, mental health care, childcare, and transit. We will build more affordable housing and re-introduce 30 year CMHC insured mortgages for first time buyers. New Democrats will give graduates a 5 year break on loan repayment, forgiving up to $20,000 in student debt and we will move away from loans and towards non-repayable student Grants.

What leadership quality does the leader of your party have to strongly represent Canada on the world stage? (50-word limit)

Jagmeet is authentic and leads with integrity. He knows struggle and has compassion for others but it goes further than that. He is deeply committed to justice and doing whatever necessary to build an inclusive Canada. He is respected and trusted at home and on the world stage.

What is one specific issue you would personally champion, or private-members bill you would introduce, given the opportunity as an MP? (100-word limit)

As a local leader on affordable housing, I will champion the full commitment of our federal government to build affordable housing at rates we have not seen since the 1990s when the Liberals pulled the plug on the federal government investing in building housing. The market has failed us and at the rate of our current national housing strategy we will never even come close to meeting the needs of Canadians for affordable housing stock. I will champion this because it is also a key driver in creating skilled, well-paid jobs that families can rely on for the future.

What does your party’s campaign slogan mean to you? (50-word limit)

Ready for Better is our vision. At the heart of our movement is progress, fairness, a belief in people and an undying hope that we can create a better world. I have lived with this conviction my entire life. What better time for this slogan than right now?