Home Election Tracker Canadian Federal 2021 or beyond Helping people during COVID generated NDP party support & forged an economic...

Helping people during COVID generated NDP party support & forged an economic solution of investing in people

Concrete ways to achieve a better Canada: paid sick leave, universal Pharmacare, getting profit out of long-term care -- made possible by increasing how much the wealthiest pay in taxes.

Sunday April 11, 2021 | NATIONAL

by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends

Today the NDP leader for Canada outlined the framework of economic policies that he feels will make for a more equitable and stronger Canadian society.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh addressed delegates of the federal NDP convention in Ottawa by way of virtual technology given the ongoing COVID pandemic. The speech was carried live on national TV.

He pointed out that the NDP has “helped a lot of people in really significant ways” during the pandemic by pushing for significant changes in legislation on various aspects of the social safety net for individuals and businesses.

NDP convention
The NDP convention was held virtually April 9 to 11, 2021 during the COVID pandemic.

Readying the campaign platform:

As a federal election looms (almost certainly by fall of this year once COVID vaccinations have taken enough of a hold in protecting Canadians), Singh today outlined the planks for moving forward as a party and as a force within the parliamentary system to change things through legislation, including:

  • paid sick leave;
  • universal pharmacare;
  • getting profits out of long-term care;
  • shifting the tax base so that corporations and ‘the ultra-wealthy’ make a greater contribution; and
  • addressing climate change and within that creating more jobs.

Today he also talked about how women have fallen seriously behind in the COVID economy (often staying home to raise children and forgoing or seeing diminished income) and seeing a lot of jobs that are traditionally filled by women disappear during the economic crisis of the pandemic.

A dynamic economic vision:

Singh points out to party faithful and all Canadians that there is a broad and viable economic vision based on proposing that range of significant shifts in economic policy.

“I really want to frame this as our economic solution. Investing in people is an economic decision,” said Jagmeet Singh in his response to Island Social Trends in today’s media session.

“We’ve seen, in the past, two approaches coming out of a crisis. We have seen countries cut support to people and we’ve seen the outcome of that — economic inequality grows, things get worse, it’s harder for people. And we’ve seen the opposite — we’ve seen other countries choose to invest in people and that’s a strong economic driver,” he said, noting it was pertinent to outline this.

woman, health care worker, COVID
Women have been highly impacted on the health-care frontlines during COVID. [web]

“We are making the case, that when people are struggling with their health, when people in long-term care are struggling, that if we invest in caring for them, this is an investment in a type of economy that is better for everyone,” said Singh. He described an economy like that in a way that makes it sound like it really is coming, as one “that is going to lift up people who need support”.

Countering the usual argument that perhaps these initiatives are unaffordable, Singh quickly followed with saying that the NDP party also talks about “how to pay for a lot of these initiatives and these investments”, which he says is “by asking the ultra-wealthy to pay their fair share, something that is also widely supported by Canadians”.

Investing in workers, health and seniors:

“We’re putting forward a vision of the economy where we invest in our workers, in the health of people, and care for our seniors as an economic stimulus that will also create jobs and create a better economy that works for everyone, not just for those at the top,” said the NDP leader today. “That’s the case we’re making to Canadians. We’ve got an economic vision that’s focused on people and supporting them,” said Singh.

As an example, in Denmark seniors are assisted to live independently at home, interspersed within the broader community where they find companionship and support. Ultimately this reduces costs on the health care system.

Paying for the campaign:

Going into the eventual 2021 election campaign, the NDP has approximately twice the funds in their ‘war chest’ as they did heading into the 2019 election. Why is that, and how, asked Island Social Trends.

A major high-profile NDP TV ad just ran this weekend, aired during a sports broadcast.

Anne McGrath
NDP Party National Director Anne McGrath (web)

“Our team did a great job. Our current national director Anne McGrath and previous national director Melissa Bruno and an entire team of people have worked really hard to get us to this position,” he said right away, giving credit where credit is due. “We paid off our previous election debt. We still had some 2015 debt left over, and we paid off our 2019 debt.”

By the NDP helping people during COVID (through their work in the House of Commons to push for things like the higher amounts for CERB and wage subsidies), that translated into dollars.

“We showed Canadians that we were fighting for them and people showed their appreciation with increased donations. And we built on that momentum that we are fighting for people, we can make life better and translated that into great financial support,” said Singh today.

NDP convention
Resolutions in front of the delegates at the 2021 NDP Convention.

Jagmeet insists: “You can dream bigger”. He asks that people “imagine a better Canada”. To help make that happen, “we’ve got some real concrete ways to achieve that”.

“I’m really thankful for all the (campaign) support we’ve gotten. I don’t want the support to stop though, so keep it coming!”

The political push:

The more NDP MPs you elect, the better it is for Canadians (as Singh said today). That’s of course what a politician will say.

But in this case it’s provable that the NDP approach to politics within the House of Commons made a real difference for millions of Canadians in the past year, with ripple effects for years if not generations. Many people’s lives did not crash during the economic impacts of COVID-19 due to things like pushing the level of CERB to $2,000 instead of $1,000 and businesses receiving a 75% wage subsidy for their employees instead of the 10% level originally proposed by the Liberal minority government.

Presently there are 24 NDP MPs in the 43rd Parliament. That count includes three from south Vancouver Island — Randall Garrison (Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke), Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford), and Laurel Collins (Victoria).

Wrapping up the convention:

Singh’s speech to the convention at 1:30 pm Ottawa time (10:30 am Pacific) preceded their leadership vote, which comes on this last day of the three-day NDP Convention (April 9 to 11) which has been held via Zoom and other remote technologies. There has been no evident movement for anyone else to take on the job, so Singh is likely in a safe spot there.

Also addressing the NDP delegates today were former Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley and leader of the Nova Scotia NDP party, Gary Burrill.

Background on Jagmeet Singh:

A lawyer, Jagmeet Singh was an Ontario MPP before running for the leadership of the federal NDP Party. He won the leadership in October 2017 and was elected as a Member of Parliament (in Burnaby South) in the October 2019 election, after relocating to Burnaby, BC and building a profile there in the NDP-strong BC political climate.

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