Federal candidates tried to reach out to younger voters with promises of reduced education costs at an election forum on youth employment last Wednesday at Riverside Centre.
“We want to begin your adult life, debt-free from school,” said Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge Green Party’s Ariane Jaschke.
The Green party plans on spending $10 billion on post-secondary education, said Jaschke, who only paid off her student loan debt five years ago – when she was 35.
Jaschke was addressing the first question posed by students at the forum, asking politicians how they’d improve the lives of young people who are just entering the workforce.
Bryton Cherrier, with the Peoples Party of Canada, proposed cutting the capital gains tax by 10 per cent and personal income taxes by up to 15 per cent, while independent candidate Steve Ranta called for increasing the minimum wage to $20 an hour – noting that there’s a minimum wage in Seattle of $15 an hour.
Ranta said that continuing education has to be more available for those out of school and called for free post-secondary education.
“We need to reduce the cost of housing. We should ban all foreign ownership of real estate and tax speculators,” he said, adding that global warming must also be addressed.
Jaschke said the Greens would build 40,000 new homes and provide rental assistance. She said the market is experiencing high rents and lack of supply.
Tory candidate Marc Dalton said that a Conservative government would ease the mortgage stress test to make it easier for people to borrow and buy their first home and also extend the maximum mortgage period from 25 to 30 years.
Dalton also said Conservatives will remove the GST on home heating bills and offer tax credits on green renovations to homes. Affordability was the main issue he’s been hearing about, he said.
But Liberal candidate Dan Ruimy said easing conditions for borrowing and raising mortgage terms to 30 years would be a “disaster” according to experts, and the incumbent said the Liberals have already launched its 12-year, $55-billion national housing strategy that provides money for non-profit housing groups. “What they’re saying, we’re already doing it,” Ruimy said. “So, don’t be fooled. The challenges are out there, it’s not that simple to do.”
But the government needs land for housing projects which it will fund, he added.
Candidates also were asked if it’s better to spend money on the conventional energy industry or on renewables.