Libro Calls on You to Find Your Voice During This Election

September 9, 2021

Every election brings an opportunity to use our voices and engage in the democratic process. As local southwestern Ontario candidates canvass our communities and seek your support, we are asking you to ask important and thoughtful questions that reflect the values we believe are important to us all.

Democracy is in Libro’s DNA and it governs our credit union in how we serve our Owners and communities. We truly believe voters can drive positive change and outcomes for our communities. As candidates knock on your door or engage you in public settings, we hope you will take the opportunity to challenge them on some of the issues below. At Libro we are using our voice to advocate for issues we believe have a growing impact on southwestern Ontario and those who call it home. We wanted to share them with you as we believe they may be on your mind as well. When the next candidate knocks on your door, please consider some of these topics for discussion.

Rural Internet and Connectivity

Whether you live or work in a rural setting rural internet connectivity and speeds impacts us all. The success of our rural communities has associated impacts on our larger urban centres and the overall economy of southwestern Ontario. There are still too many pockets in southwestern Ontario that do not have access to consistent and stable rural internet. On top of that many continue to pay growing costs and fees for unreliable connections that don’t align to advertised southwestern Ontario internet speeds. Governments continue to claim this is a priority and while we have seen funding increase in recent years there remains significant challenges experienced by rural internet consumers. We know our local rural internet providers make every effort to support residents with fibre to the home. Libro believes that future growth in southwestern Ontario will rely on digital centric and digital first approaches and for this to occur stable rural internet is needed.

Ask the candidates:

  • How their party will improve rural internet speeds and general connectivity for mobile service
  • Additionally, challenge them on the high costs that Canadians pay in comparison to other developed nations.

Learn more about rural internet and connectivity here. Also check out Libro’s call for better internet access here.

Local Food Matters

Most of the food grown in southwestern Ontario leaves our regions and province for various destinations and markets. We recognize the importance of international trade for our local producers and their ability to grow. Additionally, we also recognize that we need to continue to build upon opportunities to keep more food locally produced in southwestern Ontario on local tables. Farm to table is important and where possible should be advocated for. When we choose local food sold by local producers, we are choosing to keep our hard-earned dollars right here in southwestern Ontario and that has a multiplier effect for everyone. Libro is investing in Agri-innovation, local producers, food literacy and broader access through loans, grants, and sponsorships. We are so fortunate to have shops, stands and local farmers markets across our communities, we cannot take this for granted and must remain supportive of local food growth, food literacy, and new agricultural opportunities.

Ask the candidates:

  • How their party will keep more food produced locally on the tables of residents and families in southwestern Ontario?
  • How will their party dedicate resources to our amazing producers who continue to be worldwide leaders in food production and support the supply chain issues post Covid to ensure long term viability and success?

Learn more about Local Food Matters here.

Social Purpose and Finance

Consumers are increasingly demanding businesses to generate social and environmental good beyond profit. Libro is a proud purpose driven business and promoter of the social finance movement. We believe that social finance and purpose can drive stronger economic outcomes for local communities, their economies, and our environment, heck its what co-operatives and credit unions were founded on. Recent investments by the federal government have opened new opportunities to drive local economic growth through social financing and purpose initiatives. We need to keep pressure and momentum on this area of our future economic growth.

Ask the candidates:

  • How their party will fund and support local ventures and investment funds that allow for new businesses, designed with social purpose and community benefit, to form and grow?
  • Is a change in how we do business, as well the frameworks that our economies work within, a priority of their party?

Learn more about Social Financing here.

Small Business Supports and Entrepreneurship

Small business and entrepreneurs are the backbone of our economy. Covid-19 has left many businesses in a fragile state, while leaving others unable to continue forward. Libro advocated for initial Covid-19 supports and was at the table early on with EDC and other financial institutions to ensure that our local small businesses had initial access at time of launch to federal business support programs (i.e CEBA). As our economy continues to open, we need assurance that programs will transition to spur growth and innovation and continue to better those willing to bet on themselves and their ideas.

Covid-19 has led many individuals to consider entrepreneurism, small business ownership, business investment and new “side hustles”. The need for new programs and investment will be critical to our post Covid-19 response for small local businesses. There is a growing desire by many to consider owning a business and the government has a role to play in supporting those who chose this path. We believe small business and entrepreneurism can accelerate growth, create innovative products, and generate new services for all Ontarians.

Ask the candidates:

  • How they will spur the rising entrepreneur spirit in Ontario and desire of many to own their own business and take on new risks within their career and new hustles?
  • What programs, incentives and supports will be made available when traditional financing may not fit or work, but a great idea exists?
  • What is their plan for a post-Covid recovery for those individuals hardest hit by the pandemic (women, people of colour, single-parent households)?

Learn more about Small Business here.

Affordable Housing

It’s the hottest issue in southwestern Ontario and one of the most important discussions on the campaign trail. Housing continues to remain red hot as supply challenges and constraints outpace demand and need. Increasing shifts in provincial migration is also placing a new strain on southwestern Ontario communities. All parties are releasing or have released housing plans and they will be reviewed closely by voters and pundits.

We need tangible policies and housing plans that will ensure funding is geared towards the “missing middle” and lower income housing needs. Data continues suggests that the “missing middle” is placing the greatest strain on the market and impacting individuals and families the most. Additionally, policy levers need to be considered that will slow down red-hot demand and help first time home buyers who continue to be pushed out of the market at every turn. Ensuring a sustainable housing market that is accessible and provides opportunity for all income levels, first time home buyers and current home owners is critical to ensuring strong future growth and accessibility into the housing market.

Ask the candidates:

  • How their party will support actual units being built that are geared towards the greatest need (individuals, young families, seniors, and first-time buyers)?
  • How their party will tackle the challenges at municipal levels with the release of funds?
  • Additionally, ask what additional policies they are considering ensuring affordability and ongoing sustainability for all buyers and sellers moving forward?

Next time a candidate is standing on your front porch or steps take some time to engage and discuss the key issues at hand. We have equipped you with what we believe are critical election issues and questions. Libro wants you to ensure that your voice is heard on issues that matter to you and your community. When the doorbell rings, will you be ready to speak up?

By Brent Furtney

Brent is Libro's Advocacy and Government Relations Manager. Brent is passionate about credit unions and their ability to deliver change in our communities. He just started his Masters at Saint Mary’s University and wonders what he got himself into. Other passions include junk food, 80s soft rock and cheering on failed sports teams.