Taking care of seniors, reducing bills are front of mind in Orléans

In the rapidly growing riding of Orléans, voters say they're looking for tax cuts and other incentives to lower costs for seniors and families.

Lower incomes and higher healthcare expenses a major concern for seniors, residents say

As a retired couple on a strapped budget, Marcel and Rachel Brunet said they'd like to see lower taxes or more tax incentives. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

In the rapidly growing riding of Orléans, voters say they're looking for tax cuts and other incentives to lower costs for seniors and families. 

The morning commute at the Place d'Orléans OC Transpo station shows the diversity of the urban/rural riding, with recent immigrants sharing benches with briefcase-toting businesspeople, and a mix of backpacks, canes and strollers resting on the walls of bus shelters. 

"We're getting to an age where taxes are always an issue," said Marcel Brunet, who was taking a trip with his partner, Rachel. "There's less money for spending."

The couple hope the leader who wins next month's provincial election won't just be thinking about social programs, but about lending a helping hand to those struggling with rising bills. 

"Try to lower the taxes," Rachel Brunet said. "It's really high for a retired couple."

CBC's Street Talk team went to neighbourhoods in the east Ottawa riding to find out what issues matter most to voters. 2:05

Improving health care 'a given'

Down at the other end of the platform, Rhona Luck was singing a similar tune. The senior said her request is simple: improve the lives of people like her.

While Luck would like to see something different, including a 'silver sneakers' program to get seniors into gyms for free, she said the need for more long-term care beds and a better overall health-care system is obvious.

"It's a given," she said. "Our population is aging, right? And most of them are on fixed income. And I think [over] the next 40 years, there's going to be more seniors, not less." 
Beverlie Smiths said health care and seniors issues are important because 'we're all getting older, not younger.' (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

In another part of Orléans, Beverlie Smith is leaving a physiotherapy appointment. It's a trip she makes three times a week while she sits on a waitlist for a new knee. 

"It's a long time to wait," Smith said. "We're all getting older, not younger. Long-term care facilities, hospice facilities, hospital, nurses — we're going to all use them. I like to hear good things when it comes to talking about seniors.

"It's very important for anybody."

'Whopping' hydro bills

But health care isn't Smith's only worry. Like the Brunets, she's thinking about rising costs as her income goes down. 

"I'd like to know how they're going to deal with this hydro expense that's basically been put on the taxpayer," she said. "How does that reflect on senior citizens? Because they've got to pay this whopping bill back somehow."

Heading south to Blackburn Hamlet, hydro was a recurring theme. 

"Being a new mother, it's hard for us," said Fidelia Cabrara, her son resting in a stroller. "I see people out there who can't afford even the simplest things, like groceries."
Out for a walk with his dog Roxie, Jordan Kinnear said there seems to be a lot of spending centred around the GTA, and that he'd rather see balanced books. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

In a nearby park, Jordan Kinnear and his dog Roxie were enjoying some sun. But the political science student said the province's finances are weighing on him. 

"Having a debt like this is really bothersome for me, because I know future generations are going to have to pay it," he said, adding he's worried big-budget promises in the GTA will put eastern Ontario taxpayers further behind.

"I could always use lower taxes and hydro rates, too. I'm a homeowner and the bills just keep piling up. It's just one thing after another. More money in our pockets, overall, is a good thing."

We hear the concerns of one of the fastest growing ridings in Ottawa. 5:32

Debate held 

On Monday night, candidates vying for the Orléans seat set out their priorities in front of an at-times raucous crowd comprised mainly of seniors.

PC candidate Cameron Montgomery attacked the governing Liberals for their track record on health care, saying people are "concerned about access to quality healthcare and waiting times for surgeries and specialist services."

Meanwhile, NDP candidate Barbara Zarboni and Liberal incumbent Marie-France Lalonde spoke about how their respective parties will help improve access to mental health services. 

On Wednesday Zarboni and Lalonde will be guests on CBC Radio's All In A Day to discuss issues of importance to people in the riding. Montgomery was invited to participate but declined. 

CBC is coming to your riding

The Street Talk team is heading to every provincial riding in Ottawa to find out what issues matter most to the people who live there. 

From now until election day on June 7, reporters will go to Carleton, Glengarry–Prescott–Russell, Kanata–Carleton, Nepean, Orlé​ans, Ottawa Centre, Ottawa South, Ottawa West–Nepean and Ottawa–Vanier.

Then we'll take your questions to the people hoping to get your vote. 

Come back to our website each day to find out about another riding, and follow the discussion with the hashtag #CBCStreetTalk on social media. 

With files from Matthew Kupfer and Giacomo Panico