As Canadians get ready to go to the polls on Sept. 20, many will be thinking about the promises being made by each of the parties in regards to how they will govern the country if elected. The COVID-19 pandemic recovery, affordable housing, Indigenous reconciliation, and climate change are some of the hot topics in this election, and each of the main parties has published a list of actions they promise to take to address them.
The Liberal Party encourages vaccination as “the best line of defence” against COVID-19 and variants of concern. Their platform includes a vaccine mandate for federal public servants, including employees of federally regulated air, rail, and marine transportation, and for commercial passengers on planes, interprovincial trains, and overnight marine vessels. They will support vaccine mandates in provinces and territories with a $1 billion COVID-19 proof of vaccination fund.
The Conservative Party will require unvaccinated federal workers and unvaccinated passengers on buses, planes, and other transportation to test negative for COVID-19 each day. Erin O’Toole has pledged to immediately call a public inquiry into the government’s pandemic response. They will reinstate the tariff on imported PPE, and ramp up Canadian research and production capacity for pharmaceutical research and development, and overhaul Canada’s Pandemic Plan to include more focus on domestic vaccine research.
The NDP will enforce a vaccine mandate for federal workers, and if elected, the NDP government will offer paid leave to get inoculated. Employees who “refuse to get vaccinated, without a reason related to health status” would be expected that the collective agreement “include a process for discipline, up to and including termination.”
The Green Party will order a public inquiry that would evaluate the joint response between all levels of government to find what worked and what didn’t. They plan to create an intergovernmental rapid response task force to be used during an emergency, dedicate funding to strengthening the integration of public health with community-based primary care, and invest in research and production of vaccines and medical treatments.
The Liberal Party wants to introduce a First Home Savings Account for Canadians under age 40, which is expected to save up to $40,000 towards a first house and deposits and withdrawals are tax-free from this account. They promise to build, preserve, or repair 1.4 million homes within four years as a way to address the supply of homes available for Canadians. The Liberals also want to create a bill of rights for home buyers “to make the process of buying a home fairer, more open and transparent.”
The Conservative Party promises to build one million houses within three years, and create incentives for first-time home buyers. They also want to ban foreign investors not living in or moving to Canada from buying homes.
The NDP will create at least 500,000 units of “quality, affordable housing” in the next 10 years, with half done within five years. They will re-introduce 30-year terms to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation insured mortgages on entry-level homes for first-time buyers.
The Green Party will declare housing affordability and homelessness a national emergency, redefine affordable housing, and create national standards to establish rent and vacancy controls. They will also “establish a guaranteed liveable income program” which would cover everyone.
The Liberal Party will invest $2 billion over four years in housing for Indigenous, Inuit, and Métis Nations, and over half of the funds will be available by next summer. They will also co-develop the first National Indigenous Housing Centre in Canada, where Indigenous peoples can oversee the federal Indigenous housing program.
The Conservative Party pledges to fund the investigations and implement the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action 71 to 76 involving missing children at former residential school sites. They will also develop resources to educate all Canadians about the history of residential schools. At the English federal election debate on Sept. 9, O’Toole said if elected he will raise the Canada flag on National Day of Reconciliation, Sept. 30, “as a symbol of Canada’s commitment to reconciliation” with the “commitment to move forward on calls to action.”
The NDP will uphold Indigenous rights, invest in children, and fund the services required to ensure clean drinking water, and lift all boil water advisories in Indigenous communities. In accordance with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action, the NDP will “remove most mandatory minimums, increase discretion of judges during sentencing,” among other measures.
The Green Party will include “Indigenous Peoples, their worldviews, knowledge, and governance systems” in decision-making around economic development within the marine and freshwater areas in their territories. They will support Indigenous peoples, Métis, and Inuit in rebuilding traditional knowledge systems around healing and wellness.
If re-elected, the Liberal Party promises to continue planting 2 billion trees across Canada, and restore and enhance more wetlands, grasslands, and peatlands to capture and store carbon. They will introduce legislation to end cosmetic testing on animals as soon as 2023, protect animals in captivity, and ban live export of horses for slaughter. Their platform also promises to help British Columbia protect old growth forests. The Liberals will require oil and gas companies to reduce methane emissions by at least 75 per cent below 2012 levels by 2030. In 2018 Trudeau’s Liberal federal government bought the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion. The party says completing the pipeline can raise revenue to help fund action on climate change.
The Conservative Party promises to establish a task force to protect the woodland caribou, improve responses to wildfires, and invest $3 billion until 2030 in natural climate solutions “focused on management of forest, crop and grazing lands.” They will also implement a national action plan on floods, including establishing a residential high risk flood insurance program, to “better prepare Canada for the impacts of a changing climate.” At the Conservative Party’s March policy convention, delegates voted to reject adding statements to the policy book that prioritize the environment, including a line stating climate change is real.
The NDP will set a target of reducing Canada’s emissions by at least 50 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030. They will create and fund a Climate Accountability Office to provide “independent oversight of federal climate progress.” They will also appoint a Climate Emergency Secretariat in the PMO to “ensure a whole-of-government approach to responding to the climate emergency.”
The Green Party’s platform promises to achieve net zero emissions “as quickly as possible,” by ensuring a reduction in gas emissions of 60 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 with enforceable targets starting in 2023. They will cancel all new pipeline projects, starting with Trans Mountain, and cancel all new oil exploration projects, including those off-shore. They will also ban fracking and end all subsidies to the fossil fuel sector.