Sault business community hears from local federal candidates

Election candidates in Sault Ste. Marie made their best pitch to the city's business community at a special luncheon Friday on why they should be elected.

Sault Ste. Marie's Chamber of Commerce hosted the event, with representatives from the local Liberal, Conservative and NDP parties in attendance.

Catering their pitches to the business leaders in the room, a large portion of time was spent on pandemic relief and recovery.

"I'm a small business owner and recovery is obviously a huge issue for me," said Angela Caputo, the owner of the Breakfast Pig. "But most importantly is how we're going to treat people going forward and I want to see people being taken care of and being in the workforce without having to worry about healthcare or childcare."

Caputo said she ultimately liked what she heard from all candidates Friday, and said she's comfortable, no matter who wins the local election.

"We've got three quality people who will do their best to represent Sault Ste. Marie and at the end of the day, that's the best we can ask for."

For up and coming entrepreneurs, affordability is a huge concern as they look to make a life for themselves.

"They (members) want to see child support so they can get out and get to work, they want to see our housing market level out so they can buy their first homes," said Derek Jackson, chair of the Strive Young Professionals Group. "Other key social issues, Indigenous issues, these are things we all want our candidates to address."

Jonathan Coulman is executive director of the Algoma Workforce Investment Corporation, a non-profit aimed at helping ensure the region's prosperity and address workforce related issues.

"I think we heard a lot about business-related issues and that's a good thing," Coulman said. "I was thinking I would also hear about bigger picture issues like climate change, healthcare, poverty, but I understand these are things that may be best saved for another forum."

Vaccinations eventually made their way into the discussion. While each candidate had their own take on achieving higher vaccination rates, all remained bipartisan when it comes to making sure Canadians are getting vaccinated.

"Some things in our country are beyond party lines," said Michael Stone, Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce president. "Healthcare, especially when it comes to COVID, opioid crisis, mental health, that's not a problem that waves a coloured banner."

Stone said Friday's discussion will help give voters something to think about, as they get set to head to the polls in 10 days.