B.C. Votes: Penticton candidates talk COVID, crime and economy

B.C. Votes: Penticton candidates talk COVID, crime and economy

Chamber hosts first virtual all-candidates forum

Candidates running in the Penticton riding, for the provincial election, got their first chance to share their views on the local economy, COVID, taxes and crime at the Chamber’s virtual forum held Thursday evening.

Over Zoom and Facebook Live, NDP candidate Toni Boot, BC Liberal Dan Ashton, Libertarian Keith MacIntyre and BC Green Party Ted Shumaker answered questions posed to them by local business owners and the public.

According to the Chamber, over 1,300 watched the forum.

“I think I’ve proven myself as the MLA of Penticton. The BC Liberals will remove the PST for one year, bring it back at three per cent for the second and see where we are at in our economic recovery after that,” said Ashton. “The NDP has brought in more than 20 new taxes over the past three years and businesses are floundering under those taxes.”

The candidates criticized the NDP for calling an early election and causing important funding and grants to be put on hold that will help small business.

“The tourism season is gone. They struggled all summer and needed those funds now to get through,” said Ashton.

Boot said the NDP plans to roll out a $300 million grant program next week.

“And a $10,000 top up for all tourism operators. We also have a tourism task force that will chart ways to move forward and that will result in further funding down the road,” she added.

READ MORE: NDP calls snap election for Oct. 24

Libertarian candidate Keith MacIntyre said Vancouver and Victoria shouldn’t be deciding for places like the Okanagan where COVID-19 cases have consistently been minimal in comparison.

“What’s happening in Penticton is different than what’s happening in Vancouver. We’ve had maybe nine cases in Penticton and four in Summerland and yet we can’t go for a beer after 10 p.m. The government needs to get out of the way and let business owners do what’s right for them,” said MacIntyre.

BC Green Party Ted Shumaker pointed out that throughout this pandemic, big box stores in Penticton, like Walmart, have been packed full of people.

“Then you have places like the Speedway that is outside and can easily fit 4,000 people and they are limited to 50. The rules are not fair for our local, small businesses,” Shumaker said.

Ashton agreed with Schuman saying the rules are ‘ludicrous.’

“Small, independent businesses have to be masked and gloved up while it’s free for all at [big box] businesses.”

The Greens, BC Liberals and Libertarians came out against the NDP for calling this snap election during the pandemic.

“For the last year, we were working together really well during this pandemic, doing what’s best for B.C. There is no reason to call this election besides wanting to give themselves a blank cheque to spend our money,” said Ashton.

Boot said she is very proud of how the province, Dr. Bonnie Henry and the NDP have handled this pandemic and that’s why the election was called early.

“Some people feel strongly that this election is opportunistic. But we will still have this pandemic with us in fall and spring when the election was scheduled to happen,” Boot said. “We need a strong, stable government to get us through that time.”

When it comes to crime, all felt some changes need to be made.

“I had a guy sleeping in my truck last week. In his backpack were a hammer and bear spray. He was arrested and let out three hours later,” said Shumaker. “These are broken people with mental health and addiction issues. They need help but they need discipline too. We pay our hospital nurses very well but yet we pay our social workers who work with these people horribly.”

Ashton believes “we need to give a hand up but not handouts.”

“The criminals walk in through one door and out the other [of the justice system]. Also, mental health officers need to be with RCMP.”

Boot said while the Criminal Code is federal jurisdiction, some things can help at the provincial level.

“We can continue to invest in mental health, affordable housing and start to provide better police training,” said Boot.

MacIntyre said the issue is complex.

“Decriminalize drugs is one way that may help.”

The candidates were also asked what their opinion was on employees getting two weeks paid sick leave during the pandemic.

“I’m not in favour of two weeks sick time. Unless they have COVID, employees should be at work, working,” said Ashton.

Boot took the opposite stance.

“Paid sick leave is important. Workers need to be protected. If a worker comes into work sick because they aren’t going to get paid otherwise, that is unsafe for customers and staff. We are in a global pandemic. We need those supports.”

MacIntyre owns his own business and said if the government pays for sick leave, it’s another reason for them to stay home, like CERB.

“People will look at it like ‘who does it hurt if I stay home.’ What are my premiums going to look like? The government is not our parent,” he said.

Shumaker said paid sick leave should not fall on the shoulders of the already struggling small businesses.

“The government needs to kick in some,” he said.

One of the questions asked was how the parties could help with staff shortages, especially in the hospitality sector.

Ashton said federal payouts of CERB served a good purpose at the beginning of the pandemic.

“With it morphing into EI payouts, we are creating a culture of people not wanting to work. To make a prosperous province we need people to work,” said Ashton.

Boot said the NDP is offering a 15 per cent tax incentive to hire new employees.

“When I owned Grassland Nursery in Summerland for 10 years we faced this same problem back then,” she said.

Shumaker said a living wage is the way to get people back to work.

Boot agreed that a fair wage would help.

The forum was hosted by JCI Penticton, the Chamber and HEK Yeah Media.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BC Votes 2020

Just Posted

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Geordie Fife exits the dunk tank during 2017’s Discovery House Father’s Day festivities at Skaha Lake Park. The fundraiser helps raise awareness of the work done at the house and break down the stigma associated with addiction. (Western News File)
Discovery House Father’s Day fundraiser goes digital

The addiction recovery program will be rolling out videos ahead of the fundraiser

The proposed design of the five-storey building on Front Street. (City of Penticton)
Five-storey building proposed for Penticton’s Front Street

It will be the second time the proposal will head to council

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from St. Eugene’s residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

RCMP thanked the public for assistance in finding Benjamin Archie, last seen in Princeton. (RCMP)
Missing Chilliwack man found safe and sound

The 80-year-old had walked away from his home in Chilliwack

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

(Heather Lueck image)
Crash north of Enderby knocks out power, slows Highway 97A traffic

A witness captured footage of a medical helicopter landing at the scene

Most Read