Day 18 of the federal election campaign saw party leaders pledge their support for a range of issues—from mandating vaccines for federal public servants, to investing in infrastructure and affordable housing, to reducing equalization payments.
Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau announced the release of his party’s election platform Wednesday, with a focus on post-pandemic recovery, housing, health care, the economy, climate change, and reconciliation.
The platform includes $13 billion in new spending this fiscal year, with a key focus on new and continued health and pandemic-related initiatives, and over $78 billion in total spending over the next five years.
Trudeau also announced Wednesday he would mandate vaccination for federal workers, travellers, and support proof-of-vaccination programs across Canada, if elected.
“We’ll stand firm on our commitment that federal public servants should be vaccinated. We’ll make sure everyone on your plane or train is vaccinated. We’ll protect businesses that mandate vaccinations from unjustified lawsuits, and will pay for the rollout of proof of vaccination programs for every province and territory that steps up,” said Trudeau in Toronto.
He added he would continue to push for $10-a-day childcare, invest in mental health programs, and further his plan to address climate change among other issues addressed in the platform.
Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole announced Wednesday that, if elected, his party would invest in infrastructure projects across Canada to create jobs, cut commuting time, and improve access to high-speed internet.
“We need more transit, better roads, more rail, more broadband networks across this country,” he said in Ottawa.
He criticized the federal government for not getting “billions of dollars out of the door for projects” they announced over the last six years, and pledged to “get shovels in the ground on these projects.”
“We will scrap the failed Canada Infrastructure Bank and unlock the money sitting there to get infrastructure projects built,” he said.
He also promised to connect every part of Canada—including rural, remote and northern communities—to high speed internet by 2025, and build “world-class 5G networks” without using infrastructure from Chinese tech giant Huawei.
NDP Party Leader Jagmeet Singh pledged to use available federal lands to build more affordable homes during a campaign stop in Montreal on Wednesday.
He said he would work alongside Indigenous peoples to ensure proper consultations are sought so that treaty rights are respected in the transfer of federal lands.
He also promised to work with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to buy affordable rental housing in order to “keep rent low and discourage big investors from buying up rental buildings to drive up rent.”
During a campaign rally in Red Deer, Alberta on Tuesday, PPC Leader Maxime Bernier pledged to review Canada’s equalization formula. He said he would reduce the overall payments to provinces and ensure only those with the greatest needs benefit from the payments.
“Equalization payments encourage recipient provinces to maintain large public sectors, keep taxes high, and intervene more in their economies, which drives out investment and lowers employment and productivity. It’s a poverty trap,” he said.
“Provinces should not be receiving equalization payments for decades. It’s time to stop rewarding provincial governments for not adopting better economic policies.”
Green Party Leader Annamie Paul called for the decriminalization of simple possession of all illicit drugs and the creation of a “national safe supply of drugs” when she campaigned in Toronto on Wednesday.
“This is a health issue, not a criminal issue,” she said. “Criminalization creates stigma. It prevents people from getting the help that they need, from asking for the help that they need, from acknowledging that they need help.”
She added that related services including safe supply, safe injection sites, access to mental health services, community supportive housing, and drug treatment must also be in place.