Better Pensions & Benefits  

“Canadian workers and their pensions should come before executives and big banks”

How come, when companies like Hamilton Speciality Bar go under, the debts owed to employees are allowed to go unpaid?

It’s just wrong when businesses go bankrupt and workers are forced to forego wages, pensions or health and welfare benefits while so-called “secured creditors”, like big banks, get their debts paid in full.

What’s more, executives are often paid large “retention bonuses” just to keep working during insolvency while workers are shown the door and never fully paid what they are owed.

Whether it’s Stelco or Sears, workers deserve to be protected from the legalized theft of their hard earned incomes during bankruptcy.  After-all, they earned those benefits through hard work.

In 2018, it’s time employee debts were honoured first, not last, when insolvency hits.

I know this issue too well and I will work to ensure the federal government protects workers during bankruptcy by creating insurance systems that see vulnerable creditors, like workers, come first and receive the full value of the debts owed to them upon bankruptcy.

That’s what I mean when I talk about standing up for Hamilton.

Better Incomes

“For too long, Liberal and Conservative governments have taken turns ignoring families struggling to make ends meet. I say, if the job market can’t provide people with a decent living, then government has to step up to protect the income security of its citizens.”

In some parts of Hamilton East – Stoney Creek, more than 1 in 5 families struggle to make ends meet.  In many neighbourhoods, more than half the children 5 and under are growing up in poverty. This is just not acceptable and it is directly tied to the inadequate incomes of parents.

I refuse to accept Justin’s Trudeau’s claim that Canada doesn’t need a federal minimum wage and I will work to implement a $15 minimum wage for the federal sector.

I will also work to establish a model federal jobs guarantee program in up to 15 high-unemployment communities across Canada.  My initiative would allow high-need communities, like ours, to participate in a 3-year pilot program to guarantee the option of employment for all of its residents.

This program would guarantee that adults in participating communities who want to work can do so, in a job that pays a living wage and provides benefits like health insurance, paid sick leave, and paid family leave – all while helping to advance critical priorities that are currently under-provided in Hamilton, like child and elder care, infrastructure, and community revitalization.

I will work to have the federal government fund the basic income pilot program abandoned in Ontario. That program provided a payment to eligible couples or individuals to ensure a minimum income level, regardless of employment status.

A reinstituted program would run for 3 years and provide up to 4000 residents, including Hamiltonians, with a maximum benefit of $16,989 per year, with married couples getting up to $24,027. This basic income initiative would investigate whether people living on low incomes better meet their basic needs and improve their education, housing, employment and health.

Better Trade Deals

“When the new NAFTA was signed it permitted punishing tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. President Trump only agreed to lift these tariffs if he could slap them back on our products later. Trade deals that threaten to impose tariffs at any moment can’t be called free trade. This agreement is not a fair deal for steelworkers, their families or the City of Hamilton.”

It is unfair for our steel companies to compete with American firms when the Trump administration can easily re-imposes unjustifiable tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum products. The Liberal government has agreed that Trump can slap tariffs back on our products — if imports meaningfully “surge.” Though they agreed to this term, the Liberal government could not define what a meaningful “surge” amounted to under the trade pact. What’s more, if tariffs are re-applied, Canada has now agreed it can no longer freely retaliate with its own tariffs on American products.

As Trump has since threatened new hefty tariffs on all Mexican exports, Canada must be concerned that the Americans will use any opportunity to claw back access to their market at the slightest excuse. The agreement to lift tariffs from Canadian steel products, though a positive step, has unfairly created further uncertainty for our exporters.

Besides these shortcomings, the new NAFTA raises major concerns about the impact it will have on Canadians, from hurting our farmers, to skyrocketing the price of medication for people, to creating an uneven playing field for working people. For example, there is a need to improve labour provisions in order to protect our jobs, challenge the extension of drug patents under the deal which result in higher costs for Canadians, and ensure the environment is better protected under the deal.

Canada is a trading nation but trade needs to be fair and in our best interest before we agree to any trade deal. There is no reason to rush the implementation of the new NAFTA – instead the Liberal government could, and should, pressure President Trump to fix it before trying to ratify this flawed arrangement.

Better Pharmacare

“Your job situation or your bank account should not determine the kind of drug coverage you get in Canada.  When you go to the pharmacy, your health card should get you the medication you need, not your credit card.  Our pharmacare plan covers everyone – and saves us billions of dollars.”

Many families in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek struggle to make ends meet every day. One in five young families in parts of the east end are raising children, 5 years and younger, in poverty.

Seniors across our community are also struggling with as many as one in five seniors, 65 and older, living in poverty.

As a result, people in Hamilton are making impossible choices when it comes to affording the prescription drugs they need:

  • paying for rent, or filling a prescription;
  • cutting pills to make a bottle last longer;
  • or skipping prescriptions altogether.

Since 2015 the federal government has stalled, promising lower drug costs but delivering delays and more of the same system that just keeps driving the cost for medically necessary drugs beyond the reach of working families.

The Liberals have now indicated they want a US-style system based on private insurance that will just deepen inequality – and mean more premiums, co-pays and deductibles coming out of the family budget. This approach will continue to drive up costs by putting pharmaceutical and insurance companies in the driver’s seat as drug prices spiral upwards. A patchwork approach like this cannot deliver quality drug coverage for Canadians.

The NDP plan provides quality prescription drug coverage for every Canadian, regardless of your job, where you live, your age, your health status or how much money you make. This plan would make life better for everyone because:

  • It means that your economic situation will not determine the quality of your health care – something we can all be proud of.
  • It provides access to necessary medicines in the same way that we now have access to medical and hospital care – free at the point of care, paid for by a universal public insurance system.
  • You get your prescription with your health card – not your credit card – at the pharmacy checkout.
  • Individuals, families and employers save significantly.
    • Our plan will save families more than $500 a year, even if you already have insurance through work.
    • Employers would save around to $600 per employee with benefits.
  • It lowers overall drug costs for Canadians as a result of government pooling its purchasing power across the country to buy medications in bulk.
  • It is affordable as it would cost the federal government $10 billion a year (or less than 3% of the federal government’s most recent budget).
  • It saves $4.2 billion in costs and we will use that money to give even better drug coverage to Canadians – instead of lining the pockets of the drug and insurance industries.
  • Our plan creates a healthier Canada where no one has to decide between the medicine they require and other necessities like food or housing.

Better pharmacare will help build a better Hamilton by ensuring we have improved healthcare, greater equality, and lower drug costs.

Better Housing

“Decent, safe and affordable housing is essential for everyone. You just can’t have a good life without it.  That’s why government should help families who try hard to maintain their homes and should create initiatives to see more good and affordable houses built in east Hamilton.”

In parts of Hamilton East–Stoney Creek, seniors on fixed incomes and young families risk losing their housing because of higher rents. People are even moving out of their neighbourhoods because they can’t afford to stay. Seniors, young families and others need help with renting and buying homes and the NDP has key proposals to alleviate our housing crisis.

  1. Create half a million units of quality, affordable housing within a decade

There is an urgent need for more affordable rental housing across the country.  That’s why we are calling for the creation of 500,000 units of quality, affordable housing in the next ten years, with half of that done within five years, ramping up beginning immediately.

  1. Give low-income renters help now

We need to immediately help families that are struggling to stay in their homes today. That’s why we will provide direct financial help to low-income renters right now, and to make help available to more families that need it.

Our goal is to ensure that people with low incomes are not spending more than 30% of their income on housing – there are over 1.7 million households across Canada in core housing need in 2016. We will be announcing a bold and detailed plan during the campaign to deliver increased assistance to people in housing need, including those living in social housing, those on a social housing wait-list, and those housed in the private market but struggling to make ends meet.

  1. Remove GST/HST on the construction of new affordable rental units

This change will help spur the building of affordable units across Canada, as well as create good paying local constructions jobs, establish certainty for planning the construction of new rentals, and provide savings that can be reinvested locally to build more units.

  1. Re-introduce CMHC-insured 30-year mortgages

The majority of renters want to own a home, yet too many feel they will never be able to. It’s time to re-introduce 30-year terms to CMHC insured mortgages on entry level homes for first time home buyers. This will allow for smaller monthly payments, freeing up funds to help make ends meet for young families. Depending on the price of a home, a 30-year mortgage could reduce monthly mortgage payments by $200 on a mid-range condo in Hamilton. Homeowners would be free to move to a shorter 25-year term when they refinance. This measure will have the additional benefit of helping unblock affordable rental stock for many Canadians.

  1. Help first-time homebuyers with closing costs

To give people a hand when they buy their first home, we would double the Home Buyer’s tax credit to $1,500.

  1. Kick-start the construction of co-ops and non-profit housing

For decades, governments in Ottawa have failed to build new co-op and non-profit housing. We’re calling on the government to carve out dedicated fast-start funds to streamline the application process and help communities get the expertise and assistance they need to get co-op and non-profit housing off the ground now, not years from now.

  1. Make it easier to buy a home as a group

With housing prices out of reach for many Hamiltonians in the neighbourhoods where they want to live, more and more people are looking for alternatives that combine purchasing power and build community. Co-housing can be very rewarding for many, from younger buyers starting out to seniors looking for greater companionship.

Unfortunately, many financial institutions are reluctant to invest in co-ownership. We would provide resources to facilitate co-housing, such as model co-ownership agreements and connections to local resources, and to ease access to financing by offering CMHC-backed co-ownership mortgages.

These housing measures will bring some immediate relief to people struggling to find and stay in the housing they want and helps create a Better Hamilton for all of us.

Better Education

“Students believe in the beauty of their dreams – a future with hope and opportunity through higher education.”

The federal government has forgotten that young people growing up in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek have dreams just like anybody else. And they want them to come true.

As an educator, I see post-secondary education becoming increasingly reserved for children from privileged backgrounds. I want to be your MP so we can make good education a reality for every capable young person in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek.  If young people have the grades and are ready to do the work, we better make sure they get the chance to succeed at school. That’s what government is for.

I will work to make skills training and education accessible and affordable. I want to support young people who take pride in learning a trade.

I will first work to phase out all interest charges on all federal student loans and boost funding for the Canada Student Grants program. Canada should then make tuition and books free for post-secondary students.

Young Canadians completing post-secondary education should be supported by Canada establishing 40,000 jobs, co-op placements and internships so they can transition into good paying jobs.

I will support a requirement for youth apprenticeships in all major federally owned infrastructure and public works projects to make sure those all-important “first job” opportunities are there for our youth.