Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday September 2, 2021
Liberal Party releases multibillion-dollar election platform for post-pandemic recovery
The Liberal Party released its election platform today — an ambitious document that offers billions in new spending to address both long-standing policy problems and new ones that have emerged during the past 19 months of the pandemic crisis.
The sprawling, 53-page platform proposes $78 billion in new spending. It differs substantially from the Conservative plan released earlier in this campaign in that it proposes to invest more in Liberal priorities — such as efforts to fight climate change, Indigenous reconciliation and the arts and cultural sector — while promising tighter restrictions on firearms and new money for provinces that ban handguns.
The party is also promising to restore employment to pre-pandemic levels and go “beyond” its previous pledge to create one million jobs by extending the Canada Recovery Hiring Program — which subsidizes businesses that hire new workers — until March 2022. It also accuses the Conservatives of being “opposed to support for workers and businesses.”
The Liberal platform says a re-elected Liberal government would pump billions of dollars into the health system to help clear pandemic-related surgical backlogs and hire 7,500 new doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners.
The Liberals would also earmark $1 billion in new funding for provinces that implement a ban on handguns — something gun control advocates have long demanded.
The centrepiece of the Liberals’ housing program is a “first home savings account” — a program that would “combine the features of both an RRSP and a TFSA” in that money added to the account would go in tax-free and could be withdrawn without any taxes owing on investment gains.
The program, which would cost the federal treasury some $3.6 billion over the next four years, is meant to make it easier for some first-time homebuyers under 40 years of age to scrape together enough money for a down payment.
The Liberals would also introduce a new dedicated funding stream for mental health services that would send the provinces and territories at least $2 billion more per year for mental health care by 2025-26.
O’Toole said the Liberal platform amounts to “recycled promises with some tweaks” and lacks “a complete plan for an economic recovery as a country.”
“I think Canadians deserve better than that. Mr. Trudeau called the election and just recycled some promises he’s already failed to deliver on from the previous election,” O’Toole said. “Canadians are tired of that. We deserve better, we deserve change, we deserve a government with a plan and one that will deliver.”
He said Trudeau was “running massive deficits before COVID-19” and is now piling on more costly promises. O’Toole has promised to balance the budget in ten years’ time by reining in the growth of public spending “without cuts.” (CBC)