NDP’s promises on price cuts and debt forgiveness are ‘big’, but will be hard to keep, expert says

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The New Democratic Party (NDP) has a broad set of election promises, highlighting the priorities that have been hot topics during the COVID-19 pandemic. Key aspects of Jagmeet Singh’s campaign include strengthening the precarious conditions for workers that have been highlighted by the pandemic, including paid sick leave, improving childcare services and expanding the availability of employment insurance (EI).

Pauline Beange, lecturer at the University of Toronto with a doctorate in political science, said Yahoo News Canada that promises of post-pandemic economic recovery must be a priority for voters ahead of the election. “We still don’t know what the real recovery will be after COVID-19, or how much all government measures are going to cost voters in the future,” she said.

The NDP platform promises to focus on economic fairness, with plans for a wealth tax and a generous student debt cancellation program that could wipe out up to $ 20,000 per student. Read on for a breakdown of some of the party’s top election promises.

Support workers and the economy

The NDP campaign cites the pandemic as highlighting the “low-paid and precarious” working conditions of many Canadians.

“The pandemic has changed the way many of us work. Overnight millions of jobs were lost, ”the campaign website says. “People who could work from home rushed to juggle work and family responsibilities. Parents – mostly women – without child care have been forced to quit their jobs.

The party’s plan for an “economy that works for everyone” includes expanded employment insurance, child care and paid sick leave. The party’s “build back better” plan promises to invest in clean energy, climate resilience and social infrastructure while creating a million new jobs. In addition to creating new jobs, the party has a set of promises which, if elected, will create, they say, a “new, fairer contract for workers.”

The promises include:

  • Create a low income supplement for Employment Insurance (EI) so that no one who depends on EI benefits receives less than $ 2,000 per month.

  • Expand the availability of Employment Insurance to those who leave their jobs to care for children, to protect their health or that of their family members, or to return to school

  • Extend sickness benefits from 15 to 50 weeks and develop a pilot project that allows workers with episodic conditions to access sickness benefits one day at a time so they can continue working.

  • Take immediate action to save nonprofit child care centers to reopen enclosed spaces during COVID-19.

  • Work with the provinces to create a universal child care system at $ 10 a day.

  • Support small businesses by capping merchant credit card fees to a maximum of 1%

  • Modernizing the Investment Canada Act to Protect Canadian Jobs

One question Beange says voters should keep in mind when considering the party’s campaign pledges is how the party plans to approach rising prices, including rental costs. “Their website says they’re going to stop the price hike,” she said. “In the past, Canada experimented with price controls and they generally did not meet their targets. “

“How the NDP is going to ‘stop the price hike’ is a question people should be asking,” Beange said. “It is clear that all parties are concerned about people’s expectations when it comes to housing.

Post-secondary education

The NDP platform highlights the inequalities faced by students who cannot afford their university tuition fees out of pocket. The party says that on average, a student who has to borrow will end up paying $ 10,000 more and more of his tuition than a student who has not had to go into debt.

If elected, the party promises to eliminate federal student loan debt. More strikingly, they are also planning to introduce a graduate debt cancellation program that will write off up to $ 20,000 in student debt.

If implemented, the Debt Cancellation Plan aims to erase 20% of total student debt in its first year.

Universal Pharmacare

A critical talking point for Singh’s campaign is the promise to expand the nation’s medicare to include prescription drug coverage. The party also promises to develop a strategy to cover prescriptions for rare diseases. The NDP is aiming for a start date of 2022, forecasting an annual investment of $ 10 billion.

Beange noted that health care is “the fastest growing item in a province’s budget.” According to the NDP, its drug plan will save the provinces more than $ 4 billion in drug costs.

The party says that if elected it will negotiate prices with the drug companies. Another positive aspect they mention is that employers who currently pay for employee drug plans will have the opportunity to cut costs.

Beange asks if pharmacare can “benefit those who do not need these kinds of prices,” noting that a large proportion of Canadians may already be covered by some form of private health care.

The NDP campaign platform says the drug plan it is proposing will save “even families who currently have private drug coverage on average $ 550 a year.”

Climate & Environment

The NDP platform compares the climate emergency to the recent public health emergency, saying that if elected his government will approach the climate emergency with “the same sense of urgency.”

The party’s pledges on climate action include:

  • Set a target for 2030 to reduce emissions by 50% from 2005 levels.

  • Aim to create a million new jobs through investments in green infrastructure.

  • Make building improvements in Canada to help reduce carbon pollution, with the goal of renovating all buildings in Canada by 2050.

  • Create a national crisis strategy to help communities reduce and respond to climate risks.

  • Reduce the impact of the transportation sector on the carbon footprint by doubling the Canada Fund for Community Development and developing an intercity public bus program.

  • Set a target for net carbon-free electricity by 2030, with an additional target of 100% non-emitting electricity by 2040.

  • Embed an Environmental Bill of Rights in law, aimed at protecting 30% of Canada’s land, freshwater and oceans by 2030.

Beange said that when evaluating the NDP’s promises on national programs, voters should keep provincial goals in mind as well. “A national plan for A, B or C sounds great, but do voters in Prince Edward Island really want what voters in British Columbia, Ontario or Quebec want? “

Tax fairness

The NDP’s tax plans focus on “protecting family budgets” and forcing “big business and big polluters to start paying what they owe.”

“We believe those who have profited from the pandemic should be the ones paying for the recovery – not the families struggling to make ends meet,” the party platform’s website says.

The party plans to introduce a temporary COVID-19 excess profits tax, imposing an additional 15% tax on “windfall profits” of large companies during the pandemic.

If elected, the NDP also promises to increase the top marginal tax rate by two points and impose a luxury goods tax on expenses like yachts and private jets.

On household taxes, Beange asked how the NDP will value a household’s assets, noting that a household can be “cash poor.”

The party has announced plans to introduce a one percent tax on healthy households of more than $ 10 million.


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