2021 Federal Election: Party Platforms

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Friday, September 20 is a big day for Canadians as they take to the polls to vote for our new government. The date is fast approaching and this year, as with every year, we need to be well-informed voters.

Discovering party policies, promises, and views can often be overwhelming. The Baron has researched where the four major federal parties stand on the economy, health, deficits, and the environment to better inform your voting decision.

Please be aware that some of these statements were made before the election was called. 

Economy

The important Liberal economic promises are:

  • Establish a $15 per hour federal minimum wage, which will rise with inflation.
  • Make Employment Insurance simpler and more accessible, including uniform access to benefits across regions through a $3.9 billion investment over three years.
  • Allowing Canadian-controlled private firms to immediately expense up to $1.5 million of eligible investments in each of the next three years, intended to reduce federal revenues by $2.2 billion over five years.
  • Endow agencies, like DARPA in the United States, with $2 billion to “unleash bold new research and ideas.”
  • Renew the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy with up to $443.8 million over 10 years, including funds “to commercialize [artificial intelligence] innovations and attract academic talent.”
  • Provide $400 million for a temporary Community Services Recovery Fund to help charities and non-profits with economic recovery.
  • Give $100 million to the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative.

If re-elected, The Liberal party has committed to extend most key COVID-19 benefits into the fall. This includes the rent and wage subsidies for businesses and the benefits that support Canadians out of work or sick due to the virus. Through these promises and more, they plan to restore one million jobs lost due to the pandemic.

The Green’s platform is as follows:

  • Create a comprehensive and equitable Guaranteed Livable Income to “provide every Canadian with a basic revenue source, ensuring that people can cover basic expenses such as food and accommodation.” The amount would decrease as other incomes grow.
  • Increase spending on research and development to 2.5 per cent of GDP.
  • Add $150 million annually for four years to the Universal Broadband Fund.

The Green party is pushing to extend main COVID benefits until the Canadian economy is in full swing.

The Conservative platform includes:

  • Balancing the budget over the next decade.
  • Encouraging wealthy Canadians to invest in small businesses with a 25 per cent tax credit on amounts up to $100,000.
  • Providing a business loan of up to $200,000 for small businesses in the hospitality, retail, and tourism sectors.
  • When safe, launching a one-month Dine and Discover Program that gives a 50 per cent rebate for food and non-alcoholic drinks for those dining from Monday to Wednesday.
  • Connecting all of Canada to high-speed internet by 2025.
  • Give a 15 per cent tax credit for vacation expenses of up to $1,000 per person for citizens vacationing in Canada in 2022.
  • Making oil pipeline construction a priority.
  • Investing $1.5 billion to help Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore oil industry. 
  • Resolving the Softwood Lumber Dispute with the United States.
  • Establishing a $5 billion Canadian Advanced Research Agency to fund “cutting-edge technologies” such as carbon capture and storage, hydrogen fuel, small modular reactors, electric vehicle development, and pharmaceutical research and production.
  • Encouraging companies to spend money by providing a five per cent investment on the 2022 and 2023 tax credits.
  • Creating the Canada Job Surge Plan which would pay up to 50 per cent of the salary of new employees for six months following the phasing out of the wage subsidy.

The NDP platform promises:

  • Expand income security programs, beginning with seniors and people with disabilities.
  • Expand domestic manufacturing capacity and supply chains for critical sectors.
  • Develop a national industrial strategy to build an advanced low-carbon manufacturing economy.
  • Require the use of Canadian-made steel and aluminum for infrastructure projects.
  • Enact a price cap on cellphone and internet bills to ensure Canadians don’t pay more than the global average.
  • Require providers to offer a basic plan for wireless that is comparable to affordable plans available in other countries.
  • Require telecom providers to offer unlimited wireless data at affordable rates “as exist elsewhere in the world.”
  • Abolish data caps for broadband internet.
  • Introduce a Telecom Consumers’ Bill of Rights.

If elected, the NDP would extend the wage and rent subsidies until small businesses are able to “fully reopen.”

They also plan to implement a hiring bonus to foot the employer portion of Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan for new hires, establish a $15 an hour minimum wage rising to $20 an hour, indexed to the cost of living.

Healthcare

The Liberal platform includes:

  • Enacting regulations that provides all Canadians access to sexual and reproductive services and denying charity status to anti-abortion organizations “that provide dishonest counselling to women.” 
  • Helping provinces and territories hire at least 7,500 nurses, nurse practitioners, and family doctors through a $3.2 billion investment. They also plan to increase the wages of personal support workers in the long-term care sector to a minimum of $25 an hour.
  • Working with provinces and territories to expand virtual health services with $400 million over four years and allocating $4.5 billion to provinces and territories for the delivery of mental health services.
  • Providing $3 billion to improve long-term care homes.
  • Supporting Indigenous-led mental health and wellness services with $598 million.
  • Investing at least $600 million to fight the opioid crisis.
  • Providing free tampons and pads in federally regulated workplaces.
  • Supporting people dealing with problematic substance use by adding $116 million over two years to the Substance Use and Addictions Program.
  • Establishing a National Institute for Women’s Health Research with $20 million over five years.
  • Supporting the creation of a national autism strategy with $15.4 million over two years.
  • Investing $20 million to construct eight plasma collection sites across the country over three years.
  • Providing better palliative and end-of-life care with $29.8 million over six years, and ensure the medical-assistance-in-dying framework is implemented consistently with $13.2 million over five years.

The Greens are promising the following:

  • Create a national safe drug supply as a harm reduction tool to prevent illicit drug overdoses.
  • Fund a universal pharmacare program, rolling out a formulary by 2025.
  • Decriminalize possession of illegal drugs for personal use; declare the “drug poisoning crisis” a national public health emergency; automatically pardon and expunge the police records of those previously convicted of possession of cannabis.
  • Prioritize the expansion of mental health services through negotiations with the provinces and territories; up federal spending on community-based care.
  • Reduce the length of drug patents.
  • Provide free dental care for low-income Canadians through the medicare system.
  • Impose a 10 per cent tax on sugary drinks.

The Conservative platform includes:

  • Boosting the annual growth rate of the Canada Health Transfer to at least six per cent.
  • Protecting the “conscience rights” of healthcare professionals.
  • Creating a nationwide, three-digit suicide prevention hotline.
  • Offering employers a tax credit of 25 per cent of the cost of additional mental health coverage for the first three years after adding it to employee benefit plans, for $29 million over five years.
  • Providing $1 billion over five years for Indigenous mental health programs.
  • Creating a pilot program to provide $150 million over three years in grants to nonprofits and charities that deliver mental health and wellness programs
  • Reinstating the 10-day waiting period for medical assistance in dying, restoring the requirement for two independent witnesses to be present, and repealing the provision of Bill C-7 that allows medical assistance in dying for patients with mental health challenges.
  • Doubling direct federal investments in palliative care.
  • Harmonizing ICU training to ensure that ICU credentials are transferable among jurisdictions.

The NDP says they will:

  • Establish prescription drug coverage for every Canadian citizen and permanent resident starting in 2022.
  • Work with provinces to develop public infrastructure for secure, accessible virtual health care.
  • End private, for-profit long-term care homes.
  • Set national standards for long-term care homes and home care.
  • Create a federal dental care plan for uninsured families making less than $90,000 a year.
  • Establish mental health care for uninsured Canadians, for $6.1 billion over five years.
  • Establish a national perinatal mental health strategy to support families before and after the birth of a child.
  • Declare a public health emergency on the opioid crisis.
  • Work with provinces and healthcare professionals to create a safe supply of medically regulated alternatives to street drugs; support overdose prevention sites and expand access to treatment on demand.
  • Launch an investigation into the role of drug companies in the crisis and seek financial compensation for the public costs.
  • Expand income security programs so that everyone with a disability has a guaranteed livable income.
  • Develop and implement a national autism strategy to coordinate support for research, provide access to needs-based service, promote employment and expand housing options.
  • Enforce the Canada Health Act to require all provinces to make medical and surgical abortion available in all areas of the country.
  • End the ban on blood donation by men who have sex with other men, moving instead to behaviour-based screening based on public health evidence.

Environment

The Greens:

  • End new pipeline construction, fracking and oil and gas exploration projects and use those funds to invest in the infrastructure and green sectors.
  • Guarantee that 100 per cent of electricity is produced with renewable sources by 2030.
  • Aim to have net-zero emissions as soon as possible, including 100 per cent zero-emission vessels on inland waters by 2030 and oceans by 2040.
  • Transition to green transportation by stopping the sale of internal combustion engine passenger vehicles by 2030; expanding the network of electric vehicle charging stations.
  • Increase carbon taxes by $25 per tonne each year between 2022 and 2030.
  • Ban non-essential single-use plastics by the end of 2021 and require plastic packaging to have at least half recycled content by 2030; use tax rebates, waivers, and other legislative provisions to promote sustainable waste management.
  • Require labelling of chemicals and GMOs in consumer products.
  • Create green jobs training programs.
  • Invest in research about the impact of climate change and related disasters.
  • By 2030, protect at least 30 per cent of lands and freshwaters in each ecosystem in the country, and increase that to 50 per cent by 2050.

The Liberals have vowed to bring national greenhouse gas emissions 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by the end of the decade and to make Canada a net-zero country by 2050. We don’t know if the party will promise voters further action, as it has yet to release its platform, but progress on one major pledge from 2019 remains murky at best: it’s not at all clear how they plan to plant two billion trees.

The NDP says that by 2030, a Canada under their governance would have net-zero electricity generation and carbon dioxide emissions of 50 per cent below 2005 levels. The party also vows to end all federal subsidies for oil, gas, and pipeline projects, retrofit all buildings in Canada by 2050, strengthen environmental protections, and establish an independent office to monitor federal climate progress.

The environmental section of the Conservatives’ platform includes four pillars: implementing carbon border tariffs on China and other major polluters, increasing the adoption of zero-emission vehicles, introducing a retail loyalty card-like ‘carbon savings account’ for Canadians who purchase fuel, and meeting Canada’s emissions-reduction target under the Paris Agreement – which is lower than the government’s current goal.

Deficit and debt

The Liberals estimate that the cost of their election promises will use roughly half of the five percentage point drop in the projected debt-to-GDP ratio in the federal budget released in April.

The Conservatives pledge to “adopt a responsible and measured approach to balance the budget over the next decade”. They will also use promises in the party platform to “reduce the deficit by almost 90 per cent by repairing the economy.”

The NDP platform includes ensuring that Canada’s long-term finances are fiscally sustainable according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s fiscal sustainability measures. Broadly, the party says its platform and spending commitments will be financed by reforming the tax system so that big corporations and wealthy individuals pay more.

For more information on other issues, you can visit the parties’ individual websites:

  • Green Party of Canada: https://www.greenparty.ca/en/platform
  • New Democratic Party: https://www.ndp.ca/commitments
  • Liberal Party of Canada: https://liberal.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/292/2021/09/Platform-Forward-For-Everyone.pdf
  • Conservative Party of Canada: https://www.conservative.ca/plan/