Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/9/2011 (3558 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
NDP candidates Drew Caldwell and Jim Murray found themselves defending their party’s recent multimillion-dollar housing investment in Brandon at a provincial election forum on womens issues last night at Brandon University.
The forum, co-ordinated by BU and the YWCA, pressed candidates to answer questions relating to affordable housing, child care, poverty, domestic violence and the role played by women in gangs.
On the issue of affordable housing, Progressive Conservative candidates Mike Waddell and Reg Helwer each blasted the NDP for spending $6.5 million on the 24-unit Manitoba Housing complex set to open later this fall on 15th Street North.
"When you’re building a two-bedroom suite for $270,000 to $300,000 ... that’s a lot of money to go into one suite," Helwer said. "We may have been able to build more than that. You have to be effective in that regard."
The location of the new complex at the corner of 15th Street North and Stickney Avenue, makes it an unrealistic housing option for single parent families, Waddell noted.
"The factor that was not factored in with that development north of the tracks is that it is nowhere near a school, which penalizes single moms instantly, and it is nowhere near a grocery store, which penalizes moms without transportation instantly," he said.
Caldwell defended the project, suggesting it was its LEED environmental standards and geothermal technology that set the per-unit price.
"That will save taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars moving forward by both heat and cooling costs," he said.
"I think people deserve to live in dignity and ... when you look at the fact that those are geothermal and it does reduce the reliance on purchase power, I think they are a good investment," added Murray. "I think they bring dignity to people’s lives."
Both Liberal candidates Shaun Cameron and George Buri suggested that the key to affordable housing is not building fancy units, but in implementing either co-operative or "sweat equity" housing models.
"It’s been shown that 44 per cent of women that live in other types of housing move every couple of years, but in a co-operative housing model, they stay," Buri said. "We feel this is the best type of model because people feel safe and they get involved. They have a stake in it."
On the issue of child care, Helwer said he would like to see the province move back to smaller, private daycare facilities instead of larger, public facilities that are more likely to spread "communicable diseases," while Waddell suggested the Tory party is big on a family’s "right to choose" how they spend their formative years with their child.
Murray and Caldwell both reiterated the NDP commitments to child care over the past decade, including the mandate that all new or renovated schools in Manitoba must provide for daycare spaces, the introduction of an online child-care registry and the "backfilling"of $10 million in federal funds that was clawed back from Manitoba’s public child-care system.
Cameron suggested child-care success lies with, among other things, offering educational incentives to those who will work in the industry.
"We need to continue to recognize the needs of a diverse population and promote opportunities to allow for space that also meets cultural needs," he said. "We have to partner with public education systems to further addresss the transition needs from child care to public school and we need to continue to dedicate resources towards early childhood education spaces and dollars to hire more childcare professionals."
All four Liberal and Progressive Conservative candidates stressed that the NDP has failed women living at or below the poverty line by simply increasing minimum wage instead of increasing the minimum personal exemption for income tax and not increasing the basic shelter allowance.
Ironically, Brandon’s only two female provincial election candidates — Brandon West Communist Party candidate Lisa Gallagher and Green Party candidate Vanda Fleury — were not invited to attend the hour-and-a-half long event, attended by approximately 50 people.
YWCA officials told the Sun that due to the late entry by both women into the election race, there was no time to change the pre-set format of the forum.