Major parties talk farms, seniors and payday lenders in New Brunswick campaign

The Canadian Press
August 26, 2014 05:16 AM

FREDERICTON - New Brunswick's Progressive Conservative party kept its election focus on jobs Tuesday, linking land-use policies and reducing government red tape for farmers to rural employment.

Premier David Alward said a second-term Tory government would build on its buy local programs and a requirement that government departments must consider local sourcing when buying food for meetings and conferences.

Its approach is aimed at attracting new farmers to the industry, he said.

"New Brunswick farmers are at the heart of job creation in our rural communities and in the communities where their products are processed, packaged, and shipped to market," Alward said in a statement from a campaign stop in Woodstock in his home riding.

The NDP and the Liberals campaigned on protections they support for senior citizens and the financially vulnerable.

Liberal Leader Brian Gallant promised help for seniors who want to stay in their homes longer through a new tax credit to offset the cost of home renovations. The program would cost $4.8 million a year.

Seniors would be eligible for a refund of up to $1,000 under the tax credit, which Gallant said is similar to one in British Columbia.

"Our seniors have worked hard their whole lives to give us all that we take for granted today," Gallant said in a statement issued at a campaign event in Fredericton for the Sept. 22 election.

"We owe them a retirement filled with dignity and respect. ... These measures will create jobs in the short-term, make life more affordable and comfortable for our seniors, and create long-term efficiencies related to our health-care system and the environment."

He said another tax credit would be offered to caregivers of seniors or dependents with special needs or a senior family member living at home. The credit would be $1,275 per year and could be claimed for up to three dependents, at a cost of $14.9 million annually to the government.

The Liberals are also promising a pilot project to help seniors receive health care at home and expand the mandate of the ombudsman to advocate for seniors.

NDP Leader Dominic Cardy campaigned in Moncton on Tuesday as he pushed for new regulations on interest rates charged by payday lenders.

"These companies target the most financially vulnerable," Cardy said in a statement. "This is unfair ... and the new NDP will put a stop to it."

Cardy supports legislation that would put a ceiling on the amount of interest payday loan companies can charge.

He said the legislation would ban some lending practices, such as issuing concurrent and back-to-back loans.

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