Making life more affordable for everyday people
Across the country, people are having a harder and harder time keeping up. They keep hearing about the economy doing well for the rich, but they’re not seeing the benefits for their families.
Decades of Liberal and Conservative governments have stripped away the services that made it possible to live a good life. It’s harder to afford a good place to live, to pay for an education, take care of aging parents, and to cover electricity and cell phone bills, prescriptions, and dentist appointments.
But we can make different choices – we can invest in things like health care, affordable housing, and child care. We can tackle the things that are keeping people up at night worrying – and make sure everyone can afford a good life.
Our commitments to you
Medicine for all
Making sure everyone can afford a place to call home
Affordable post-secondary education for everyone
Affordable, quality cell phone service and high-speed broadband for all
Better services all Canadians can rely on
Medicine for all
In the days before Medicare, New Democrats saw neighbours who were suffering because they could not afford the health care they needed. We saw people losing their homes, their farms, and their businesses to pay their medical bills. We saw illness destroying entire families.
In response to that reality, New Democrats led the fight to establish universal public health care for all Canadians. Medicare changed the lives of millions of people – and it is one of our party’s proudest achievements.
But today, decades later, as we look across this country, we see the pain of inaccessible and unaffordable health care, once again. As we work together to come through the COVID-19 crisis, we see evidence of a health system pushed to the brink.
Millions of families cannot afford to take the medications they need because they have no employer-provided drug coverage. The number of uninsured people forced to skip their medications is growing as more people work on contract, are self-employed, or have jobs that just don’t come with health benefits. And too many seniors are putting their health at risk because they don’t have drug coverage and can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket.
The stress and worry that people feel isn’t an accident. It’s the direct result of deliberate choices that have been made by Liberal and Conservative governments. They have chosen to let drug companies gouge patients. And they have chosen to leave millions of people uninsured or underinsured, paying hundreds or thousands out of pocket for medicine they need.
Today, Canada is the only wealthy country in the world with a universal health care system that lacks universal prescription insurance coverage. We pay the third highest prices for prescription drugs in the world, straining our health care systems across the country, and have to deal with a patchwork of programs and coverage – if we’re lucky enough to have coverage at all. In the face of a global pandemic, the need for a strong, national pharmacare program has never been stronger.
For ten years, instead of addressing the growing costs of drug coverage, the Conservatives made the problem worse by reducing health care funding to the provinces and undermining efforts towards a national approach to pharmaceutical pricing. Now, the Liberal government has spent six years stalling, by promising lower drug costs but delivering delays and more of the same piecemeal system that is failing Canadians and costing us more. They’ve delayed important changes that would reduce the price of drugs in Canada three times, because pharmaceutical companies asked them to. And the Liberal’s 2021 Budget confirmed that they’ve completely walked away from their commitment to pharmacare, just when Canadians need it most.
New Democrats believe that we must do better. Just as our party led the fight to establish universal public health care for all Canadians, we are leading the fight to expand Medicare – to include quality prescription drug coverage for everyone, regardless of your job, where you live, your age, your health status or how much money you make. We will begin working with the provinces right away to target a 2022 start date, with an annual federal investment of $10 billion.
This will go hand in hand with developing a national strategy to cover drugs for rare diseases, so that coverage is no longer determined by where you live or what private insurance your family has, as is currently the case.
A national pharmacare program means access to necessary medicines and medical devices in the same way that we currently have access to medical and hospital care – free at the point of care, financed by a public insurance system that covers everyone. It means that you’ll need your health card – not your credit card – at the pharmacy till. And it puts an end to costly co-payments, deductibles and premiums that cost families hundreds and even thousands a year.
Making prescription drugs more affordable saves everyone money. Seniors, families and young people get a break. Small businesses who want to provide coverage for drug costs are able to do it. Negotiating prices with big pharmaceutical companies brings down prices for everyone – saving money in our health care system that can be used to improve care.
Our plan will guarantee that every Canadian can get the medication they need. And it will mean big savings for employers who currently pay for employee benefits, helping to reward good employers and boost economic growth. It will also cost our system less overall, as a result of pooling the purchasing power of the entire country – freeing up much-needed funds for the provinces to re-invest in improving healthcare.
Most importantly, our pharmacare plan will mean a healthier Canada where no one has to make the impossible choice between the medicine they need and other essentials, like rent and food.
Making sure everyone can afford a place to call home
Owning a home has become an impossible dream for too many Canadians. Finding a decent place to rent is out-of-reach. Everyone should have the right to a safe and affordable place to call home. Working people should be able to afford to live close to their workplaces, including in the heart of our biggest cities. Young people should be able to stay in the neighbourhoods they’ve grown up in. And seniors should never be forced out of the communities that they’ve spent their lives in.
But for too many families, safe and affordable housing is increasingly out of reach, thanks to skyrocketing rents, demo-victions and ballooning home prices. The pandemic has only made things worse for people on the edge, with too many families struggling to make rent or mortgage payments during the crisis. Parents lie awake at night, worrying about how they can afford the family home, as costs keep going up but paycheques don’t keep up. And huge numbers of young people are being forced to give up on the dream of ever owning their own house.
Canada is in the midst of a national housing crisis impacting every area of the country: Average rents rose in every single province last year, and 1.6 million Canadian households spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing. Canada has the fastest growing house prices in all of the G7, a trend that shows no signs of slowing.
What this means in real terms is that families in our communities are facing constant stress and impossible choices between rent or food; living in substandard housing or relocating out of their community; or worse, the real risk of homelessness.
The worry and anxiety that people feel today is the result of the bad choices that Liberal and Conservative governments have made.
The Liberals have neglected the housing crisis in Canada for too long, turning their backs on families that are struggling to stay in the communities where they want to live and work. Even with modest new announcements to try to fill the gaps, the reality is that their housing program is too small to make a real difference for most Canadians. The Liberal government is telling Canadian families that they’re just going to have to wait longer for help, struggle more every month, and settle for less.
New Democrats believe that it’s time to help people – now. We have an ambitious plan that will make a difference in every community in our country – because finding a good, affordable place to live shouldn’t be like winning the lottery. It’s time to relieve the stress and worry that people feel by choosing to make it easier to rent and buy a home.
A major part of the long-term solution to the problem is to ensure that more affordable rental units are built across the country. One in three Canadians is a renter. In many cities, what few affordable apartments there are get snapped up quickly, and people end up living in either inadequate housing or simply forced to spend a huge chunk of their income on rent.
After six years in government, the Liberal plan is simply inadequate compared to the scale of the housing crisis Canadians are facing. We need to take urgent action now towards an ambitious plan to build affordable places to live in every community across the country.
That’s why a New Democrat government will create at least 500,000 units of quality, affordable housing in the next ten years, with half of that done within five years. This will be achieved with the right mix of effective measures that work in partnership with provinces and municipalities, build capacity for social, community, and affordable housing providers, to provide rental support for co-ops, and meet environmental energy efficiency goals. This ambitious plan will create thousands of jobs in communities all across the country, jump-starting the economic recovery, and helping Canadians get the affordable housing they need.
In order to kick-start the construction of co-ops, social and non-profit housing and break the logjam that has prevented these groups from accessing housing funding, we will set up dedicated fast-start funds to streamline the application process and help communities get the expertise and assistance they need to get projects off the ground now, not years from now. We’ll mobilize federal resources and lands for these projects, turning unused and under-used properties into vibrant new communities.
A New Democrat government will also spur the construction of affordable homes by waiving the federal portion of the GST/HST on the construction of new affordable rental units – a simple change that will help get new units built faster and keep them affordable for the long term.
These measures will help address the housing crisis at the source, but we also need to make sure that families that are hurting get help now – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Families do not have years to wait, when every day is a struggle and a constant worry. That’s why we’ll provide immediate relief for families that are struggling to afford rent in otherwise suitable housing, while we bring forward long-term solutions to the housing affordability crisis.
While making affordable rental housing more available is critical, New Democrats believe that the dream of homeownership shouldn’t be forever out of reach for Canadian families. That’s why we will re-introduce 30-year terms to CMHC insured mortgages on entry-level homes for first time home buyers. This will allow for smaller monthly payments, freeing up funds to help make ends meet for young families. We’ll also give people a hand with closing costs by doubling the Home Buyer’s Tax Credit to $1,500.
For Canadians who are open to innovative paths to home ownership, a New Democrat government will provide resources to facilitate co-housing, such as model co-ownership agreements and connections to local resources, and ease access to financing by offering CMHC-backed co-ownership mortgages.
Big money investors are driving up the costs of houses. No one can win a bidding war against investors with deep pockets who are looking to turn a profit, not build a neighbourhood. To help put an end to speculation that’s fuelling high housing prices, we’ll put in place a 20% Foreign Buyer’s tax on the sale of homes to individuals who aren’t Canadian citizens or permanent residents. New Democrats will also fight money laundering, which fuels organized crime and drives up housing prices. We will work with the provinces to create a public beneficial ownership registry to increase transparency about who owns properties, and require reporting of suspicious transactions in order to help find and stop money laundering.
Affordable post-secondary education for everyone
Accessible and publicly-funded education is a great source of opportunity for everyone in our society. It can transform lives, opening new horizons and new opportunities for people from every background. That makes education the greatest gift that we can give to each other, to our children, and to the next generation.
We believe that access to education should never depend on how much money your parents make or how much debt you can carry. If you have the grades and the drive to study hard, you should be able to get the education you want – at any age, and in every community. That’s why New Democrats are committed to ensuring that every Canadian has lifelong access to publicly-funded education – from affordable child care and early years education through to university and college, apprenticeship training, skills development, and retraining programs.
But today, too many people are being denied access to education. COVID-19 has put the future on hold for too many young people. Students are being forced to give up on their dreams because they can’t pay sky-rocketing tuition prices. And young people are struggling under the weight of crushing student debt, at the very time when they should be excited about building their lives.
These barriers to quality education have been set up by Liberal and Conservative governments – and it’s time to tear them down. They’ve allowed the costs of post-secondary education to balloon with no end in sight – and have continued to profit off students by charging interest on student loans, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Liberal and Conservative governments have chosen to make life harder for students, young people, and their families.
Today, the average student with debt owes $28,000 at the end of an undergraduate degree – and a student who has to borrow to pay for their education will end up paying over $10,000 more than a student who is lucky enough to be able to graduate without taking on debt.2 Students are also more likely to be in low-wage, precarious work that has been impacted by the pandemic, cutting off a critical source of income. And working conditions for academic staff have gotten worse, with a third working contract to contract with limited access to benefits.
These inequalities are setting young people up to fail. It’s time to do better.
Our vision is for every Canadian to have access to quality post-secondary education, regardless of their income. Over the long term, this means working with the provinces and territories to cap and reduce tuition fees, and building towards making post-secondary education part of our public education system so kids can go from kindergarten to a career without the barrier of cost.
This is an important goal and we believe that with the right leadership and political will, we can get there.
There are steps we can take to make education more affordable right now. Five provinces have already shown leadership in eliminating interest rates on student loans. It’s time for the federal government to do the same, and stop profiting from student debt. New Democrats will remove interest from federal student loans, and to help lift the debt burden from young people starting out, we will introduce a targeted debt forgiveness program for graduates that will forgive up to $20,000 in student debt. In the first year alone, this will wipe out 20% of all student debt and help 350,000 borrowers save money every month.
We’ll also move away from loans and permanently double non-repayable Canada Student Grants. Accessing financial support for your post-secondary education shouldn’t be a debt sentence – we’ll make sure that young people can start out in life without a crushing debt burden.
Affordable, quality cell phone service and high-speed broadband for all
Now more than ever, Canadians need a fast and reliable internet connection at home to be able to work and go to school, and we all rely on our cell phones to keep us connected wherever we are. Particularly during the pandemic, these are essential utilities, yet too many Canadians still struggle to access the affordable the services they need.
More than half of Canadians living in rural areas don’t have access to high-speed internet, and among comparable countries, Canadians pay some of the highest prices for mobile wireless and broadband subscriptions in the world.
People are being gouged, every month, because instead of standing up for consumers, the Liberal and Conservative governments have left it to industry to set the prices. The result is that Canadian families are stuck with sky-high bills, and the profit margins of the Canada’s biggest telecom companies in Canada are over 40 per cent, while two million Canadians living in rural, remote and Northern areas still don’t have access to reliable internet service. The only thing worse than cell phone and internet companies gouging consumers are the politicians who let them get away with it.
It’s time for a government that’s on your side – protecting your pocketbook and delivering the modern services you need.
New Democrats believe that no matter where you live in Canada, you should be able to stay connected – without breaking the bank because of unfair gouging. That’s why, until the industry becomes more competitive, we’ll put in place a price cap to make sure that Canadians aren’t paying more than the global average for their cell phone and internet bills.
Expanding cell coverage and delivering reliable, affordable broadband internet to every community in Canada is vital to the economic future of rural Canada and remote communities. But it has been ignored by successive governments for far too long. That’s why we believe that we need to act urgently to close the digital divide now, not ten years from now as the Liberal government proposed. We are committed to declaring high-speed internet an essential service and making sure that every Canadian has access to affordable, reliable high-speed broadband within four years. This will include starting the process of creating a Crown corporation to ensure the delivery of quality, affordable telecom services to every community.
In addition, we’ll make sure that providers offer a basic plan for wireless and broadband that is comparable with the affordable plans that are available in other countries. To put an end to surprise bills, we’ll require companies to offer unlimited wireless data options at affordable rates, as exist elsewhere in the world, and abolish data caps for broadband internet.
And finally, to protect Canadians from unfair wireless and internet sales and services practices, we’ll introduce a Telecom Consumers’ Bill of Rights and put an end to gouging for good.
Better services all Canadians can rely on
Canadians should be able to count on their government to provide reliable services to make life a bit easier and to help when crisis strikes. But instead of making the right choices to help Canadians, Conservative and Liberal governments have spent years cutting back the basic things that Canadians need, leaving Canadians to deal with everything from cancelled mail delivery to long wait times for government services.
That’s what happens when governments choose to focus on false tax cuts and harmful service cuts: People wind up paying more out of their own pockets for the services that their families need, or they can’t rely on the services at all.
Quality medical services are vital for keeping Canadian families safe and healthy. But in too many places across the country, these services are under threat from privatization and cuts. Justin Trudeau maintained the cuts to health care transfers made by Stephen Harper and has resisted calls from provinces to restore health care funding. Cuts to health care led by Conservative Premiers like Jason Kenney, Doug Ford and Brian Pallister made it harder for the health care system to cope with the pandemic and put people at greater risk. The federal government cannot stand by while healthcare is under threat – New Democrats will fight for public healthcare and stand up to privatization that costs Canadians money and undermines our public healthcare system.
The Liberals once promised to restore door-to-door mail delivery, which had been cut by the Conservatives. But when they got into government, they broke their commitment and left hundreds of thousands of people without the mail services they need – and hitting seniors and persons with disabilities especially hard. Now that we rely on mail more than ever, New Democrats have your back to restore door-to-door mail delivery to all communities that lost it under the Conservative government, and protect against future cuts to this important service.
When it comes to accessing help from government, people want reliable services that work – but the Liberal government failed to even pay public servants correctly, and the Conservatives are more interested in making cuts than in making government work. A New Democrat government will put in place a Service Guarantee that will make departments responsible for establishing and publishing binding service standards for programs like Employment Insurance, veterans support, Indigenous services, passports, Canada Revenue Agency call centres, and other services. Ministers will be held responsible for delivering on these targets.
New Democrats have the courage to stand up for you and increase consumer protection for financial transactions, and require financial advisors to offer advice that is in your best financial interest, not what is best for the bank’s bottom line. This will include more powers to investigate and enforce these rules, and compensation for consumers who have been misled. We will also bring in legislation to protect your privacy and prevent credit and debit card companies from selling your personal information.
To expand consumer choice and cut down on waste, we’ll establish the right to repair electronic devices and other products at affordable prices, and make companies responsible for e-waste linked to their products.
New Democrats make sure that prices at the pumps are fair by creating a Fair Gasoline Prices Watchdog to investigate complaints about gouging, and boost the power of the Competition Bureau to proactively investigate allegations of anti-competitive activity in the gasoline market. To protect travellers’ safety and consumer rights, a New Democrat government will also strengthen the Air Passenger Bill of Rights. Finally, New Democrats will modernize Canada’s competition laws to address the challenges and evolution of today’s economy.