Kitchener-Waterloo·VOTER VOICE

Climate change, affordable housing and child care: top issues for federal voters in Cambridge

Each week leading up to election day, CBC K-W is hosting a panel of voters to chat about issues most important to them. 

Hear from three local voters about what their top issues are

Voter Voice: Panel talks housing, climate and more in week 2

2 years ago
Duration 7:23
Voters in Kitchener-Waterloo talk about their top federal election issues.

Election campaigning is well underway in Waterloo region.

And each week leading up to election day, CBC K-W is hosting a panel of voters to chat about issues most important to them. 

This week, Craig Norris, host of The Morning Edition, spoke with Eamon O'Flynn, a voter in Kitchener Centre, Mark Neville, a voter in Kitchener South-Hespeler, and Penny McCabe, a voter in Wellington-Halton Hills.

Q: We have heard climate change is one of the biggest issues for people in this election. Is it a top issue for you?

Mark Neville: "Absolutely … I looked at the weather forecast for [Wednesday] .. It was like 45 C. I can't remember the last time it's going to feel like that, and I can't remember the last time it was ever like that here. And that goes to show that there's still a lot of problems with climate. Look out west, right? Like this is crazy stuff. We have to do something about it."

Penny McCabe: "It is top of mind … I do see the effects daily in this area as I talk to some of the farmers. They're concerned … This has been a very strange summer with periods of drought and periods of rain and they're concerned about crops. So there's a lot a lot of impact on our food security in this area … It's a big issue and I think, you know, we can't leave this to the next generation."

Eamon O'Flynn: "The evidence for climate change happening is very scientific … I do think that we're seeing the effects right now and that we're seeing those effects accelerate over time. I have two very young children and 20 years from now, there's a strong possibility that that's a very different reality for them. Even now, middle of the day in the summer, to take them to the park or something like that, air quality has become such a massive issue just purely around things like heat."

Q: Eamon, you've spoken out about child care in Waterloo region before. Of the major parties, we've seen the Liberals and NDP promise 10-dollar-a-day daycare. The Conservatives would offer a tax credit. The Greens have not released a policy but previously have supported making child care more affordable. As you look at and review the various promises, what are you looking for?

A: Honestly, it's anything that is making living more affordable … I think when you talk about housing affordability, that is something that might take a decade to really actually make an impact on, if we start now. But child care is apparently something that we can deal with right away.

If you look at some of those policies, as you were talking about, it's substantial if you have young children. The amount I'm paying for childcare is more than the amount I'm paying for a mortgage and my car every month. And it's a very much a Kitchener and Waterloo issue ... we have a serious, serious supply issue here, and it probably hasn't gotten better with COVID.

What I would like to see is something that can take that cost out of the budget of parents in the region.

Q: Penny, affordable housing is one of your top issues. Why is that and what would you like to see the next government do to address it?

A: It's one of my top issues because I've been working on it for over 40 years. And I would say that the affordability of housing in the last 40 years has gotten worse than better. We have had no government activity basically in providing affordable housing for over 20 years. And what I'm seeing in the rural areas around here, since the pandemic, it's getting worse.

When I first moved to Acton … I've seen people sleeping in their cars and sleeping rough on empty land. But what we're having now, almost every time one of these new people move into the area … somewhere down the line, somebody is being displaced from a house that they can afford.

They end up couch surfing, staying at friends. If they're lucky, they can move in with family. But in the rural areas, there's nowhere for them to go to get affordable housing.

I think we need to have a really strong non-profit or cooperative house building program … try to cut down on the amount of bureaucracy that it takes to get a project in … What's being built out in rural areas are these multimillion dollar homes. That's where our resources are going, and that to me, it does not seem fair.

Q: Mark, housing is one of your top issues, in particular the housing market and affordability. Why is that issue important and what would you like to see a federal government do?

A: I think it feels like for a lot of people like myself, we're stuck. Imagine like, you know, you're a young family, you're renting and rent's gone up because of COVID. So, when you're renting, you're trying to save money to put down for a down payment, but now housing has gone up. Cost of living has gone up. And, you know, you're going to struggle to find a way to get the money for a down payment to get into a house that's already way, way, way stratospheric.

And then you think about salaries, like salaries really haven't gone up a lot … So it's like a recipe for a huge disaster if that market collapses … So I don't know what the solution is because there's no easy way out. I don't think we can just start building more houses because that's not really solving a problem.

I feel like there hasn't been a lot of government action. It's been very reactive instead of proactive and I hope whoever wins the election … I just hope they can guide us toward some type of correction.

Q: Tell us what you need to hear from any of the candidates that would solidify your decision to vote for that person in your riding?

Eamon O'Flynn: "A clear, actionable plan for dealing with climate change. A clear, actionable plan for dealing with child care issues. And a clear actionable plan for dealing with both affordable housing and the housing affordability issue, which I think are separate but are so related and so important for our community moving forward."

Penny McCabe: "I would like to hear something similar, very clear action plan. Many of the lobby groups have come out with action plans and made very clear what they want. And I think there's a real chance for  the candidates to support those different groups and say, yes, I'm on this … But so far, everything I've heard has been quite bland."

Mark Neville: "I agree with both our guest panelists. I feel like I wish a politician would say I totally understand … how you feel. The status quo is not working anymore. We need to start really making a plan … There needs to be action instead of words."