10 Ideas to Improve Westman

Every day from now until Budget 2017, I’ll release an idea that I would like to see included in the Minister of Finance’s budget.

I reached out to thousands of Westman residents for their ideas on the best ways to grow our economy and improve our quality of life.

While Canada’s economy faces many challenges, every region has its own unique circumstances.

These recommendations will grow our economy and assist the people who call Westman home.



Enhance Small Communities Fund (increase federal funding portion)

Smaller communities have major infrastructure projects that need to move forward but do not have the tax base to fund them.

In order to alleviate the financial burden, I recommend the federal funding cost share for projects is increased from the current 33% to 50%.

This will provide greater financial assistance for smaller municipalities to fix their roads, bridges and other important infrastructure in their community.



Expand Loan Forgiveness for Rural Doctors & Nurses

Many rural communities in Westman are in dire need of doctors and nurses.

Let’s help local students who want to become nurses and doctors by extending loan forgiveness to line of credits, private loans and provincial student loans.

Furthermore, I recommend that the amount for loan forgiveness for rural doctors be increased from $40,000 to $60,000 and rural nurses be increased from $20,000 to $30,000.



Increase Basic Personal Amount (amount of money Canadians earn before paying taxes)

Many low income Canadians work hard and do not have any extra money in their pockets to pay higher payroll or carbon taxes.  To lessen the tax burden on workers, I recommend that the Basic Personal Amount be increased from $11,474 to $15,000 over the next 2 years.

This would assist those who work hard and are struggling with inflation and increases to other federal taxes.  Furthermore, anyone making less than $44,000 did not benefit one nickel from the previous Liberal budget in terms of tax relief.



Support Agricultural Value Added Processing

To support new high paying jobs, lessen transportation costs, and ease railway congestion, I recommend a whole of government effort to promote value added processing opportunities in Canada.

Such an effort would include creating the right business environment to attract private investment and assisting local communities in attracting new agri-food business.  Under the new Growing Forward 3 agricultural suite of programs, it is imperative there is a heavy emphasis on attracting and expanding agri-food facilities. 

The Ministers of Agriculture, Economic Development, International Trade, and Western Economic Diversification should direct their departments to work with stakeholders and other levels of government to encourage much needed private investment into our agri-food industry.



Invest in Flood Protection

Many communities, homeowners and farms in the Assiniboine and Souris River Basins are at risk of flooding due to higher precipitation and snowfall.

I recommend the introduction of an Alternative Land Use Services (also known as ALUS) program, which would compensate farmers for maintaining wetlands and carrying out other environmental practices that benefit the public.

I also recommend further federal investments into preventative flood protection infrastructure, such as dikes and ensuring that bridges and roads do not get washed out.

The Province of Manitoba and municipalities cannot shoulder all of the financial costs for these much needed projects that will protect communities, people and property.



Protect Seniors from Rising Costs

Many seniors are struggling due to the rising costs of housing, pharmaceuticals, heating, transportation, and the soon to be introduced carbon tax.

Due to these rising costs, many are seeing their disposable income diminished through inflation and do not feel the annual increases for the CPP and OAS are reflected accurately.

I recommend that the Consumer Price Index, be thoroughly reviewed to ensure the basket of goods and services accurately reflects inflation.



Expand Seniors Co-Op Housing Opportunities

In many communities, seniors do not have affordable housing opportunities.

The best way to ensure a stable supply of housing is to empower and financially assist communities and organizations to construct new senior’s co-op housing projects.

There have been many successful models across the country, and even here in Westman that have proven private and public partnership models work.

I recommend the federal government further increase its financial commitment for seniors housing to ensure there are available, safe and affordable housing options.



Support Apprentices and Close the Skills Gap

There are still too many folks looking for high paying jobs and too many businesses that cannot find employees with the right skills.

Many Westman residents want to upgrade their skills and get the hands-on experience they need.

I recommend that the Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit is enhanced and extended by raising the amount employers can claim to $2,500 and extending the credit into the third and fourth years of an apprenticeship program.



Improve Canada Student Loans Program

Far too often, students are not able to work while accessing Canada Students Loans or they are completely denied due to their family income.

In order to help students keep costs down, I recommend the government eliminate in-study income from the Canada Student Loans Program assessment so that students can work, earn money, and gain valuable experience while studying, without affecting their loan eligibility.

Furthermore, I propose to reduce the expected parental contributions from the Canada Student Loans Program assessment to better recognize the financial realities faced by families.



Wildlife Conservation Fund

Canada is home to countless hunters and those who have a tremendous passion for the outdoors.

It is imperative that we support the conservation of species harvested by hunters and further assist the provinces and wildlife organizations whose goal is to ensure the populations of moose, elk, deer, and migratory birds remains healthy and sustainable.

I recommend the creation of a Wildlife Conservation Fund, which will financially support projects to improve the habitat of harvested species.

The success of the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program, is evidence the federal government can play a meaningful role in supporting Canada’s hunters, trappers and fishers.

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