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Saturday, May 12, 2018

High School Students Host Political Candidates.

Wiarton | by John Divinski  

Candidates in Bruce Grey Owen Sound meet on stage in Wiarton for their first debate.

The first all-candidates meeting for Bruce-Grey Owen Sound provincial candidates is in the books.

It was held (FRI) at Peninsula Shores District School in Wiarton with a couple of hundred students in attendance.

For the most part, nothing new was said on subjects such as rural school closures; the cost of post-secondary education; Ontario's energy future with Hydro One, along with the new and pending minimum wages.

On post-secondary education, Liberal candidate Francesca Dobbyn says her party plans to increase education funding by 625-million-dollars and to offer Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) grants to lower income students to cover tuition.

Karen Gventer says the NDP would go a step further by retroactively forgiving interest payments on OSAP loans and change future loans to grants. 

She says it's not fair to saddle young people, furthering their education, with mortgage-like debt.

Trillium Party candidate Elizabeth Marshall warned students, "Nothing is free."

She urged parents to start education funds for their kids when they're born and her party would study ways to take money from one area of provincial costs and help lighten the load in post-secondary education.

Incumbent Progressive Conservative candidate Bill Walker agrees post-secondary education is not free but the entire system of education needs to match the jobs available in the future.

On the subject of the province's minimum wage of $14 an hour which is scheduled to go to $15 an hour in 2019, Walker says the PC's will take people at a certain wage level and will take no tax from them.

He says the program will leave more money with the wage earner to spend as they see fit rather than possibly hiking the minimum wage.

Trillium's Elizabeth Marshall says the minimum wage should be tied to the cost of living index rather than dictating a $15 an hour increase next year.

She says it will place many businesses in jeopardy of being sustainable, which has been evident with the $14 announcement.

NDP's Karen Gventer says her party supports a living wage but it should have been on a graduated scale over the years.  

She says the Liberals have ignored small businesses with the minimum wage issue.

Liberal Francesca Dobbyn says any minimum wage job should pay well enough that the worker doesn't qualify for assistance.

She says the Liberals want people to do well at one job rather than have 3 jobs just to make ends meet.

There is a fifth candidate in Bruce Grey Owen Sound, Janice Kaikkonen of the newly-registered Consensus Ontario party, however she was not at the high school all candidates meeting.

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