Malpeque candidates talk cost of living, E.I. zones in roundtable discussion

From climate change to housing to taxes to healthcare, candidates running in the federal election are talking about all kinds of issues when they head door to door.

4 candidates join Island Morning host Mitch Cormier for a roundtable discussion

For the candidates running in the riding of Malpeque, cost of living and EI zones are among the issues they've been hearing about from voters — and were the focus of conversation during a roundtable discussion on CBC Radio's Island Morning.

Liberal candidate Wayne Easter, Green Party candidate Anna Keenan, NDP candidate Craig Nash and Conservative candidate Stephen Stewart joined Island Morning host Mitch Cormier in studio Friday morning. 

The candidates were asked about government spending as well as how they would help get more money back into Islanders' pockets.

'Let the people spend the money'

Easter talked about the importance of strengthening the economy through "prudent" investments. 

Malpeque candiates Anna Keenan, Craig Nash, Stephen Stewart and Wayne Eastern joined Island Morning host Mitch Cormier for a roundtable discussion. (Facebook)

Stewart said he is concerned about taxes. He said many people can't afford more taxes — and specifically took issue with the carbon tax. 

"People and small business really are the drivers of the economy. So we have to support the people. Let the people spend the money, and that will help us all get by," Stewart said. 

Nash, however, talked about the NDP's promise to raise taxes on the very wealthy. He said government should invest in services that can help people save money. For example, he would like to see investments in public transit — something he said might allow him to not drive a car. 

"If I didn't have my car, which is $600 a month, and maybe I could live outside the city which might help a little bit with the housing crisis, I might be able to save up to about $1,000 a month."

Kennan said many added costs faced by consumers are not due to taxes, but rather how the economy is structured — such as the distance food travels between farms, processors, and consumers. 

EI zones: 'Haven't got there yet'

All four candidates agreed there are problems with the current Employment Insurance zones on P.E.I. The province is divided into two EI zones, meaning some people have to work more hours to qualify for benefits. The Malpeque riding encompasses both zones. 

Conservative Candidate Stephen Stewart said people can't afford more taxes. (CBC)

"I've met people who are working in the same kitchen and have different conditions. I've met people who are working on the same lobster boat and have different conditions. Clearly it's unfair," said Keenan. 

Easter agreed that the EI zones are "an issue of fairness." 

"Prince Edward Island should have one zone. I worked to try and achieve one zone, haven't got there yet. And I know Sean Casey and I are certainly willing to continue to work and try and achieve it."

NDP candidate Craig Nash said investing in things like transit would help people save money. (CBC)

Stewart agreed there are problems with the current zone but wouldn't commit to advocating for a return to one zone. But he said if there are two zones, the lines should be redrawn. He also suggested the system could work better if it was based on where a person is employed, rather than where they live. 

Keenan said she would like to look beyond just EI. She brought up the Green Party's proposal to implement a universal basic income, something she said would be a "vast simplification of our system of social benefits." 

Nash said that's something he supports as well. 

Want to see how your views compare to the major parties on the big issues of this election? Visit

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With files from Island Morning


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