No. 39October 5, 2021
At a press conference on September 28, Trudeau announced that Chrystia Freeland would continue to serve as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, that he would name the rest of his cabinet in October, and that the House of Commons would resume sitting “before the end of fall.” Media reports indicate the direction the Liberals’ pay-the-rich schemes will take. What it means for working people is that they must step up their work to speak up in their own name and make the claims on society they deem fit to make.
The Liberals’ election promises are summed up by the media as follows:
The Liberals have pledged $9 billion to train and offer salary bumps for thousands of new personal support workers. The party also promised 10 days of paid sick leave for federal workers, funding for improved ventilation in schools and legal protection for businesses that decide to require vaccinations.
The Liberals also promised $100 million to study the long-term health impacts of COVID-19, including the study of COVID-19 “long haulers” and its impact on different demographics. The party is also pledging $1 billion for provincial vaccine passports, which nearly every province has now adopted in some form.
To address Canada’s housing crisis, the Liberals have promised to build, preserve or repair 1.4 million homes over the next four years and are promising $2.7 billion in increased funding for the National Housing Co-investment fund.
To help Canadians afford a new home, the Liberals would ban blind bidding and would provide $1 billion in loans and grants to help facilitate a home purchase.
The Liberals have promised to ensure that all Canadians have access to a family doctor and can afford prescription medication. They say they will also provide $3 billion over five years to support the application of higher standards for long-term care homes.
When it comes to mental health, the Liberals have promised $150 million for mental health and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) projects targeting those impacted by COVID-19 and $4.5 billion over five years for a Canada Mental Health Transfer. The party would also implement a three-digit mental health crisis hotline.
The Liberals have promised to restore one million jobs lost during the pandemic through several employment and business benefits designed to bring people back to work.
The party plans to extend most key COVID-19 benefits into the fall of 2021, including subsidies for businesses and benefits for those out of work due to the pandemic.
The Liberals have previously promised $18 billion over five years to improve quality of life and create new opportunities for people in Indigenous communities.
The party has also promised to address the root causes of missing and murdered Indigenous women, including access to housing, poverty and the loss of Indigenous culture.
The party has also promised continued action on access to clean drinking water for Indigenous communities.
Trudeau and the Liberals have promised to bring national greenhouse gas emissions between 40 and 45 per cent below 2005 levels before the end of the decade and have committed to making Canada a net-zero country by 2050.
The party has also promised to continue raising its carbon pricing and is expecting the fossil fuel industry to reduce emissions.
The Liberals are also promising $1.5 billion in a rebate program for electric vehicles.
The Liberals have previously promised up to $30 billion over the next five years for child care and early childhood education, a 50 per cent reduction in average fees for regulated early learning and child care in all provinces outside of Quebec by the end of 2022, and an average cost of $10 a day by 2025-26 for all regulated child care spaces outside of Quebec, which has its own child care system.
They have also promised 250,000 additional spaces and 40,000 additional child and early childhood education workers by 2025-26.
Democracy Watch and Integrity B.C. have applied to the Federal Court for a ruling on the legality of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 2021 early election call. The case was filed on September 15 and asks for a ruling that would stop such calls going forward.
The Federal Court is being asked to interpret the fixed-date election provision in the Canada Elections Act in a manner that would not allow a prime minister to call an election without a non-confidence motion having been adopted by the House of Commons. In the absence of a non-confidence motion, the applicants suggest, the Governor General would have to respect the desired Federal Court ruling and decline a request for an early election as illegal.
The case argues that there was no evidence of Justin Trudeau’s government having lost its ability to govern. In a statement, Democracy Watch says, “Opposition parties clearly supported the Liberals continuing to govern, and the Trudeau government had the confidence of Parliament, when Trudeau called the election.”
Democracy Watch filed a similar case after former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s snap election call in September 2008. The Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal both ruled that the law was not specific enough to enforce fixed-dates and that a constitutional convention upholding regular elections had not been established.
Court cases have also been filed against the snap election calls in British Columbia and in New Brunswick. Both provinces also have fixed-date election laws.
One of the issues raised in the election is the urgent need to protect retirees. The Canadian Federation of Retirees pointed out that more than 4.2 million Canadians depend on defined benefit pension plans. It points out:
“These pensions are funded by employers and employees, and benefits are paid to employees when they retire. However, their retirement security is by no means guaranteed.
“In fact, retirees are left behind when companies go bankrupt. When companies like Nortel, Sears and Cliffs Natural Resources went bankrupt, their employees’ retirement funds were underfunded and their retirees lost heavily. This has left tens of thousands of vulnerable seniors facing lifelong financial hardship, many of them losing 20 per cent or more of their income for the rest of their lives.
“The federal government has a vital role to play in protecting Canadian retirees.”
The Canadian Federation of Retirees has more than 300,000 members. It is calling for 100 per cent protection of defined benefit retiree pensions when a business goes bankrupt. This will require amending federal insolvency laws to extend super-priority to unfunded pension plan liabilities.
The Federation points out:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that we need to radically change the way we respond to the problems of the elderly and revisit who we prioritize. We must stop protecting the big Canadian banks to the detriment of vulnerable seniors. We must prevent seniors from living in poverty by protecting the financial security of retirees.
“Our members of Parliament must take the protection of the financial security of Canadian seniors seriously. Retirees have worked hard all their lives and deserve their pensions to be protected.”
Earlier this year, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch authored a 100-page report documenting the human rights violations associated with immigration detention in Canada. The findings of this report include the following:
– Canada has no legal limit to the length of immigration detention, meaning that under Canadian law, immigration detainees are at risk of being detained indefinitely.
– Detention can exacerbate existing psychosocial disabilities and frequently triggers new ones, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress.
– Immigration detainees with mental health conditions face discrimination throughout the detention process. Authorities often view psychosocial disabilities as a risk factor; instead of receiving vital support, immigration detainees with psychosocial disabilities receive disproportionately coercive treatment.
– Immigration detainees who are from communities of colour, particularly detainees who are Black, appear to be incarcerated for longer periods in immigration detention and they are often detained in provincial jails rather than immigration holding centres.
There are a number of steps that can be taken to help put an end to the most harmful effects of immigration detention. Canada should take urgent action to implement the following:
– End the use of provincial jails and other criminal incarceration facilities for immigration detention.
– Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to provide for a limit to the length of detention.
– Conduct a national independent review of the immigration detention system focusing on systemic racism and discrimination against persons with disabilities, particularly those with actual or perceived mental health conditions.
– Establish an independent body responsible for overseeing and investigating the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA).
It is time to end the human rights abuses that are linked to immigration detention.
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