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NDP leader supports tourism tax credit during visit to Prince Edward County

NDP leader Andrea Horwath with Nell Casson, assistant manager at Kelly’s, downtown Picton, and Bay of Quinte NDP provincial candidate Alison Kelly. – Thomas Harrison photos

By Tom Harrison
Premier Doug Ford favours “big fish”, like Walmart, at the expense of small and local businesses, said Andrea Horwath Thursday, in a campaign-style visit to Prince Edward County where she explained a proposed tax credit to support the recovery of small and local tourism businesses.

Speaking at Stella’s Eatery in Waupoos at an early morning press conference, Horwath explained the incentive would provide a “dollar-for-dollar” tax credit up to $1,000 for visitor expenditures at qualifying restaurants, hotels and attractions.

The Travel Ontario Tax Credit is a bill by NDP MPP Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls). It offers all households $1 back for every $1 spent, up to $1,000, to eat, stay, play and tour in Ontario.

“Jobs haven’t come back. Entrepreneurs are struggling and continue to be concerned,” she said, noting the recent re-opening announcements mean that many businesses now needed help to “stay open”.

Horwath said the tax proposal would also address a gap that left out tourism companies in the first round of provincial grants.

“Those choices Doug Ford made really did impact the industry negatively,” she said, adding “the current government, now that the re-opening is happening, acts like there is not much to do. I disagree.”

Horwath said the expected cost of the tax break could not be specifically pinned down since it would depend on uptake, but noted these businesses need a helping hand.

“The tourism tax credit will provide stability and give hope,” she said.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath with Bay of Quinte candidate Alison Kelly.

Horwath was accompanied by local NDP candidate Alison Kelly who introduced her as “Ontario’s next premier.” Kelly works at PEC’s Recreation Outreach Centre and is a school board trustee for Hastings and Prince Edward, South District.

Horwath also highlighted the importance of tourism to the local economy, stating its value for the Bay of Quinte region at $300 million a year overall.

A recent report addressed by PEC municipal council estimated visitor spending in the County specifically at $190 million, noting guests who stayed an average of three days spent $406 per day, while day-trippers spend $74. Most of the money is spent on food and beverages (43 per cent) followed by accommodation (36 per cent). The report also noted 31 per cent of jobs in the County are in tourism.

Horwath later stopped in Picton, where she met with PEC Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lesley Lavender, who took the opportunity to introduce the Chamber’s ‘Work Local’ initiative.

The PEC Chamber’s project, announced in September, emphasizes focused marketing efforts to raise the community’s awareness of the impact that staffing shortages have on local businesses and the community at large, and encourages residents to support local businesses.

“It was a valuable meeting to share the needs of our business community and advocate for them at a provincial level. I used this opportunity to share about workers housing, tourism, taxation, retention of young families, and funding,” said Lavender.

While in Picton, Horwath also went for a walk down Main Street and visited some stores, including Kelly’s Gift Shop.

Nell Casson, assistant manager at Kelly’s, was enthusiastic about the Official Opposition Leader’s visit and appreciated her support for women in business and small retail enterprises, especially those, like Kelly’s, that work to support the local creative community.

Casson also took the time to describe to the politician how they have worked to survive during the pandemic crisis. The small retail outlet, operating now in its 17th year, has gone from regular hours, to being available virtually 24/7, with more personalized service to ensure the success of the shift to online access, and offering home delivery.

Horwath encouraged Casson and expressed appreciation for Kelly’s distinct, “one-of-a-kind” selection, and somewhat to the chagrin of her scheduling staff, seemed to enjoy spending time shopping for items to purchase.

Horwath rounded out her trip with a further stop at the Rosehaven Yarn Shop and a visit to Carson’s Garden and Market in Hillier.

Next year’s election will see the NDP leader waging her fourth campaign since becoming head of the party in 2009. Though it will be more than seven months until Ontarians get to vote, parties have already started advertising and making campaign stops and announcements.

Horwath’s stop in the County, and other signs of an early campaign, may reflect current public opinion, that suggests it will be a hard-fought election. A recent Leger poll puts the Ontario NDP currently in third place with 25 per cent, behind Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives at 35 per cent and the provincial Liberals, under new Leader Steven Del Duca, at 30 per cent. The election is scheduled for June 2, 2022.

 

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  1. Dennis Fox says:

    I appreciate the opinions expressed – there is a connection between tourism and the lack of affordable housing. For years our municipality ignored the money making aspects of tourism and the benefit that all of the community could realize from it – instead tourism became a big profit maker for the select few. Only now are efforts being made to bridge that gap. Over the years, rental units and properties have been geared toward the tourist trade and not for locals who need a place to live.

    Recently, a friend sold his house for a huge number – and he was told that because he had a STA licence, that would add another $100K++ to the selling price! So much for affordable housing.

    Locals are tired of seeing every level of government cater to the tourist trade and not seeing “their” tax dollars spent on things they need – like roads, parks, hospital staff, food security, and housing etc.. If tourism was providing good all season jobs that paid a decent wage, then perhaps an argument could made to support the tourist trade – but who can work,live and have a family on a minimum wage? To compound the insult of being ignored, seeing their community overrun every summer by strangers is another matter that upsets residents and is also ignored by all levels of government. No one should try telling people that their concerns aren’t important – they are, and it is about time government starts to listen to them. People don’t want their community or neighbourhood sold to the highest bidder – they want to know that it will still be there for their kids – and right now that just ain’t happening! Instead of giving tax dollars to the rich and to business – why not encourage upper levels of government to establish an affordable housing initiative? The idea that PEC can afford to fund it is as ridiculous as expecting developers to build cheap houses. I hope that with the upcoming provincial election, that more attention will be paid to the poor and to those who need real help – and less attention paid to those who already have a roof over their head.

  2. Alison Kelly says:

    Hi Emily,

    As someone present for the discussions, I assure you that affordable housing, food insecurity, sustainable jobs, displacement housing projects, senior support and ODSP recipient needs were discussed. And that’s for the discussions I was there for.

    Andrea was presented with a picture of what PEC looks like behind the curtain.

  3. Alison Kelly says:

    Hi Fred,

    The creation of permanent/sustainable jobs is very important to Andrea and the NDP, and was a discussion point with almost every person Andrea spoke with.

    In one conversation I overheard, Andrea spoke about the New Green Democratic Deal, and how the NDP has a plan to launch a building retrofit program, creating 100,000 well-paying jobs.In total, they will create a million jobs over the life of the plan.

    You can learn more about that plan here: https://www.ontariondp.ca/greennewdeal

    You can also read about the Save Main Street plan here: https://www.ontariondp.ca/news/ndp-releases-save-main-street-plan-jobs-and-financial-security-working-people

  4. Emily says:

    I think the residents are a little tired of tourism promotion. This visit could have addressed so nuch more ie jobs year round, food insecurity, housing, water costs etc.

  5. T Harrison says:

    Thanks Alison.

  6. Fred says:

    Wouldn’t it have been nice to offer Prince Edward some permanent full time year around good paying jobs rather than once again promoting our tourism.

  7. Alison Kelly says:

    Thank you, Tom, for capturing this fantastic day to perfection.

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