Decades of Conservative cuts and Liberal inaction have harmed the services we count on – and Canadians are left struggling. They can’t access health care, medication, mental health care, or home care that they or their loved ones need. Millions of Canadians are living in poverty and homelessness – and too many of them are people living with disabilities, seniors, veterans, and children.
New Democrats believe we all benefit when we live longer, healthier lives – and we’re committed to a future where we take better care of one another, so everyone benefits. We’ll invest in health care and expand it to include pharmacare that covers everyone – and work towards expanding it even further. We’ll tackle homelessness, fight poverty, and work to make sure everyone has access to healthy, affordable food.
We know we’re stronger together. We do better together. And we can work together to make life better for everyone.
When our loved ones fall ill, we shouldn’t worry about whether they can afford to get the care they need.
This principle is at the heart of New Democrats’ unwavering commitment to public health care. Universal access to public health care is one of the proudest achievements of New Democrats. And in the decades since Tommy Douglas brought Medicare to Saskatchewan and expanded it across the entire country, public health care has saved us money and become a defining Canadian value for so many of us.
But today, too many of the health care services we need – like access to prescription medications – fall outside Medicare, leaving families to face huge out-of-pocket costs. Meanwhile, powerful people and companies who oppose public health care are continuing to quietly push for privatization, threatening what we’ve built together. And for years, Liberal and Conservative governments have cut health care transfers and refused to expand access to care, making things worse.
Families are spending time and money they can’t afford, or are sacrificing other things to pay for needed health care. Or they are getting sicker unnecessarily because they can’t afford, or find the right care at the right time.
It’s not just a crisis for individuals, it’s a crisis for all of us.
New Democrats will change that. We are committed to strengthening public health care – and expanding it to make sure everyone is covered for the care they need to get and stay healthier longer.
That’s why New Democrats are fighting for a national, universal, public pharmacare program to make sure that all Canadians can access the prescription medicine they need with their health card, not their credit card – saving money and improving health outcomes for everyone.
Under our system, everyone should have access to quality health care no matter where they live. But too often, Canadians are getting different care depending on their province of residence – a problem made worse by a lack of federal leadership under successive Liberal and Conservative governments. New Democrats believe that the federal government has a critical role to play in upholding and enforcing the Canada Health Act, especially against the creeping threat of privatization and user fees. We will also act immediately to prevent the sale of blood products and to make sure that people can access abortion in all regions of the country.
A New Democrat government will work with the provinces and territories to tackle wait times and improve access to primary care across the country. We will identify coming gaps in health human resources and make a plan to recruit and retain the doctors, nurses, and other health professionals Canadians need.
Canada is a leader in innovative health research and we will work with universities and health professionals to make sure that public research on critical health issues continues to flourish. A New Democrat government will step up and regulate natural health products under stand-alone legislation.
Canada’s health care system today reflects the health care needs of the 1950s. Back then, New Democrats boldly transformed the health care system by guaranteeing that Canadians who needed to see their doctor or go to a hospital would not be faced by bills they couldn’t pay.
A decade of Conservative neglect has hurt our public health care system and eroded public trust. The Liberal approach – a patchwork of interventions and programs here and there – simply isn’t delivering the results that Canadians need. Too many Canadians, even those with private insurance, just aren’t able to get the help they need.
As it stands, the Canada Health Act is supposed to fund all medically necessary services that Canadians might need. But in reality, there are many kinds of medical services that Canadians need for their health and wellbeing that aren’t covered by public health care plans. As jobs with extended health benefits become harder to find, fewer people will have access to extended health care services.
You and your family deserve better. New Democrats believe that over the next decade, Canadians need a historic expansion of the services covered under our national health care system.
One in three Canadians has no dental insurance and over six million people don’t visit the dentist every year because they can’t afford to. Too many people are forced to go without the care they need until the pain is so severe that they are forced to seek relief in hospital emergency rooms.
We know now that good oral health is a critical component of overall good health – and that means our health care system should cover it, too. A New Democrat government will work together with provincial partners, health professionals, and dentists to develop a roadmap to including dental care in the Canada Health Act.
There’s a lot more to do to modernize our health system for today’s needs. Mental health support is an enormous unmet need across the country; a third of Canadians struggling with mental health challenges who have expressed a need for counselling weren’t able to get it. Eye check-ups are important for preventing vision loss and identifying other health issues – yet many, particularly children and seniors, don’t get regular eye care, or struggle to pay for the glasses that they need to function.
New Democrats believe that we need to work towards health care that covers us from head to toe. Mental health care should be available at no cost for people who need it, and everyone should be able to get regular eye care and hearing care. Canadians struggling with infertility should also have access to the procedures and care they need, no matter which province or territory they live in.
The long-term path to providing public coverage for these services will require strong federal re-investment in our health system with the knowledge that investing in preventative health services will ultimately save money and give Canadians the care they need to live healthy, full lives.
Across Canada, eleven Canadians die every day from opioid-related causes. Tens of thousands of families have tragically lost parents, partners, siblings, and children to the out-of-control opioid crisis. Every part of the country has been impacted by these highly addictive and dangerous drugs, from our busiest downtown neighbourhoods to the most remote communities. And too often, the impacts are even worse for the most vulnerable and marginalized people.
Despite the obvious harm that these drugs are causing and the shocking death toll that they’ve caused, over the last four years the Liberal government has failed to mobilize an effective response. They have not declared a public health emergency, nor taken any steps to investigate the role that drug companies may have played in fuelling the crisis. The federal government is lagging behind the urgent action being taken by provinces like British Columbia.
New Democrats believe that there is much more we can do to save lives and support those struggling with opioids. In government, we will declare a public health emergency and commit to working with all levels of government, experts, and Canadians to end the criminalization and stigma of drug addiction, so that people struggling with addiction can get the help they need without fear of arrest, while getting tough on the real criminals - those who traffic in and profit from illegal drugs. We’ll work with the provinces to support overdose prevention sites and expand access to treatment on demand for people struggling with addiction. We will also launch an investigation into the role drug companies may have played in fueling the opioid crisis, and seek meaningful financial compensation from them for the public costs of this crisis.
We believe that every child in Canada should have access to nutritious food - and that no one should have to try and learn on an empty stomach. A recent UNICEF report ranked Canada 37th out of 41 countries in terms of access to nutritious food for children. Despite the urgency, the Liberal government has failed to improve access to healthy food for kids.
New Democrats will partner with provinces, territories, municipalities, and Indigenous communities to work towards a national school nutrition program that will give every child in Canada access to healthy food and the food literacy skills to make healthy choices for life. We'll aim to make culturally-appropriate food available to children in every community in Canada, so that all children can grow and learn.
We know that supporting our local food systems is essential to ensuring that Canadians have access to healthy, affordable food. We'll work to connect Canadians to farmers with initiatives like local food hubs, community-supported agriculture, and networks to increase the amount of food that is sold, processed, and consumed in local and regional markets.
New Democrats will also work together with farmers and food producers to develop a National Food Policy, making our food systems stronger all across the country - including food labelling and traceability, so that Canadians can be confident in what they're purchasing to put on their family's plate. We'll also work to put in place a food waste strategy to reduce the huge amounts of food that currently go to waste in Canada.
Our government will support Indigenous food sovereignty, working in partnership with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities to expand access to healthy food, including traditional and country foods. Working together with northern communities, we're committed to reforming the Nutrition North program to improve food security for northern families.
Our parents and grandparents built this country. As they age, they deserve to live in comfort and safety. Every senior must have access to the care they need to help them remain in their own homes. Family caregivers deserve more support – and should never have to worry about whether their loved ones are getting good care. And every Canadian of every age deserves to live in dignity and be treated with respect by their government and the health care system.
But that’s not happening today.
People are stuck waiting for home care. Seniors are spending years without the long-term care they need now. And family caregivers feel overwhelmed as they carry an enormous amount of work on their shoulders. This is what happens when Liberal and Conservative governments fail to invest in the services that Canadians need. It’s people, not politicians, who pay the price.
While all provinces and territories fund home care services as part of publicly insured health care, there are inconsistent standards - and when it comes to long-term care, understaffing at residential homes is an ongoing problem across the country. Ongoing staffing shortages make for poor quality care and leave health care workers at risk of experiencing workplace violence.
It’s time to work with the provinces and territories to take a new approach to addressing the complex health care needs of our aging population. It’s time for a government on the side of aging Canadians, their families, and frontline health care workers.
New Democrats believe that families need access to quality home care and long-term care, no matter where they live. To that end, we will work collaboratively with patients, caregivers, and provincial and territorial governments to develop national care standards for home care and long-term care that will be amended into the Canada Health Act.
By doing so, a New Democrat government would legally protect access to home care and long-term care services, and ensure a consistent quality of care across the country. This process will include determining a core basket of home care services that will be available and covered by provincial insurance plans and setting minimum national care standards for long-term care residents. We will also work with the provinces to develop and support violence prevention strategies to protect front-line staff and ensure a safe working environment.
Elevating the quality of care provided in long-term care homes will protect residents and health care professionals, and give families and caregivers peace of mind.
We can do much more to make Canada an inclusive and barrier-free place. As a start, New Democrats will uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and strengthen the Accessibility Act to cover all federal agencies equally with the power to make and enforce accessibility standards in a timely manner.
To help tackle the unacceptable rate of poverty among Canadians living with a disability, we will launch a full review of income security programs. When it comes to employment, everyone deserves a fair shot at a good job that fits their unique abilities. A New Democrat government will continue and expand employment programs to make sure that quality employment opportunities are available to all.
For Canadians facing a serious illness, we’ll make Employment Insurance work better by extending sickness benefits to 50 weeks of coverage and by creating a pilot project to allow workers with episodic disabilities to access benefits as they need them.
Canadians living with disabilities shouldn’t need to worry about the cost of prescription medication, how to find housing, or how to get their mail. In addition to putting in place a universal, publicly funded national pharmacare program that will offer full benefits to all Canadians, a New Democrat government will restore door-to-door mail delivery for those who lost it under the Conservatives and create affordable, accessible housing in communities across the country.
Finally, we will work with Canadians living with Autism Spectrum Disorder to develop and implement a national Autism strategy that will coordinate support for research, ensure access to needs-based services, promote employment, and help expand housing options.
Retirement should be a time of new opportunities and new experiences, not worry and stress. We all want to retire with security and maintain our standard of living. And we want to live our retired years with dignity and comfort.
But for more and more Canadians, the prospect of retirement is a cause for anxiety. As costs keep rising and wages don’t keep up, people are struggling to save for retirement during their working years. And many retirees, who paid to have a secure pension, have been let down by governments that protected investors, not pensioners, when big companies went bankrupt. Instead of strengthening support for Canadian workers and retirees, the Liberals have sided with rich corporations to undermine retirement benefits.
New Democrats believe that every Canadian should be able to count on a dignified, secure retirement – and we’ll fight hard to protect pensions that workers have earned. To that end, we will make sure that pensioners are at the front of the line when a company goes bankrupt, and make sure unfunded pension liabilities owed to workers and employees’ severance pay are the top priority for repayment.
We’ll stop companies from paying out dividends and bonuses when pensions are under-funded and we’ll create a mandatory, industry-financed pension insurance program to make sure that no worker is deprived of the retirement benefits they’ve earned.
The federal government has a critical role to play in protecting defined benefit pensions across the country. The Liberals’ openness to target benefit plans in the public sector, which don’t guarantee stable benefits for retirees, puts defined benefits at risk for all Canadians – and we will immediately put a stop to this chipping away of retirement security.
We are committed to strengthening public pensions and improving retirement security for all Canadians. A New Democrat government will create a Pension Advisory Commission to develop a long-term plan to protect and enhance Old Age Security, boost the Guaranteed Income Supplement, and strengthen the Canada Pension Plan. We’ll also make automatic enrollment in OAS and GIS retroactive, so no retiree misses out on benefits that they should be receiving, and we will support efforts to make sure Canadians have good retirement financial literacy.
Everyone deserves to be able to age well, living in dignity as a valued member of their community. But years of Conservative cuts and Liberal inaction are making it harder and harder for seniors to get by. The Conservative government recklessly raised the age of retirement from 65 to 67 with no consultation. And the Liberal government refused to protect workers’ pensions, while dragging their feet on the creation of a real plan to deal with the health challenges faced by Canadian seniors.
As more Canadians enter their senior years, we need to make better choices to be ready to meet their needs and ensure everyone can age with dignity. With the right leadership, we can make sure that our institutions and public services are strong and prepared – and that every senior has access to the health care and social supports they need to make life a little easier.
To deliver these results all across the country, a we will lead a National Seniors Strategy that will work with the provinces, territories, and Indigenous governments to make seniors health care a priority, reduce isolation, and tackle seniors’ poverty. This will include a funded national dementia strategy and an elder abuse prevention plan developed with seniors to put an end to abuse and neglect in our communities.
Our national pharmacare for all plan will provide prescription medicine to all seniors, saving seniors hundreds of dollars every year and ensuring that no one needs to choose between medicine and other essentials.
Seniors deserve a retirement that’s financially secure and dignified. And no senior should miss out on benefits they qualify for because of a paperwork oversight – but that’s exactly what’s happening to tens of thousands of seniors today. We’ll put in place a one-year delay to help seniors at risk of having their GIS benefits suspended for being unable to make the required income statement.
Many seniors are themselves caregivers to a loved one, or rely on the caregiving of family members. In order to help make life a little more affordable for caregivers, who are overwhelmingly women, we’ll make the Canada Caregiver Tax Credit refundable. This will provide thousands of dollars to the most low-income caregivers, many of whom have given up work completely to care for a loved one.
Every senior should have a safe and affordable place to call home. Our commitment to create half a million affordable housing units in the next decade will include accessible housing that will increase choices for seniors. We’ll also support connection to community and tackle seniors’ isolation by working with cities to make transit more affordable and convenient, create more community recreation spaces, and support innovative housing solutions like intergenerational co-housing.
Canadian veterans have made untold sacrifices for our country. To honour their service, we need to offer the best care and support possible when they come home.
Unfortunately, for too long, veterans have had to fight for the benefits they’ve earned. For a decade, the Conservative government denied and clawed back benefits, took veterans to court, and cut access to basic care. They closed nine regional offices that provided services for tens of thousands of veterans across Canada and argued in court that the government has no sacred obligation to care for Canada’s veterans.
While hopes were high that the Liberal government would improve veterans care, they’ve broken their commitments, failed to improve services, and left billions in money earmarked for veterans care unspent. Years of court cases and broken promises have deepened the disappointment and mistrust that’s felt by many of Canada’s veterans.
It’s time to do right by our veterans.
A New Democrat government will honour the special bond of mutual obligation between Canadians and veterans, and deliver the services that veterans need and deserve. As part of this process, we will launch a full review of benefits and work with veterans to determine the best way to provide fair benefits to all veterans, including tackling the issue of equal access to lifetime pensions.
Veterans shouldn’t have to wait weeks or even months to receive the services they need. We’ll get rid of backlogs and step up high-quality, personalized service delivery by providing one caseworker for every twenty-five veterans and improving services that are delivered by phone and online.
There’s also much more that we can do to ease the transition from service for veterans. A New Democrat government will give Canadian Forces members access to care and support before the transition and make sure that their benefits are in place before they are released from service.
To give more veterans access to post-secondary education and training that works for them, we will expand the education benefit to more people. We will also help support veterans and their families by reviewing the caregiver allowance and making it available to more people.
New Democrats will work with partners in community services and the veterans community to end veteran homelessness for good – because one veteran on the streets is one too many.
And to ensure that taxpayer money earmarked for veterans care actually gets spent on it, we will automatically carry forward all annual lapsed spending in Veterans Affairs to improve services. There should never be an incentive for any government to save money on the backs of veterans.
In 1989, NDP Leader Ed Broadbent rose in the House of Commons to put forward a successful motion to end child poverty in Canada by the year 2000.
Thirty years after Canada’s pledge, more than a million Canadian children are still living in poverty. Children are still going to school on an empty stomach and growing up without a place to call home. That’s because successive Liberal and Conservative governments have created a patchwork of underfunded supports that still leave millions of Canadians struggling on the margins. The Liberals even brought forward a poverty reduction strategy without a single dollar of new spending – telling Canadians who need help now that they have to wait.
We need the courage – and meaningful action – to build a Canada without poverty, where all Canadians can count on quality public services and community supports to help them lead dignified lives. A core component of our approach is enshrining the right to housing in law and starting work now with a goal of ending homelessness in Canada within a decade. In a country as wealthy as Canada, there is no excuse to leave any Canadian living in poverty without a safe roof over their head.
Our affordable housing strategy will include measures to support Canadians at risk of becoming homeless, take the lead from communities about local needs, and adopt a “housing first” approach. To help people find an affordable home in the long term, we will support the creation of more social housing and other affordable options.
Poor health and poverty are linked and a national pharmacare program will mean that all Canadians can access the prescription medicine they need, regardless of their income, or address. Better access to mental health and addictions support will also form a key part of our approach to tackling poverty.
New Democrats will work with the provinces to launch a national basic income pilot project in addition to continuing Ontario’s program, in order to gather data about this approach to tackling income precarity. Developing a national, public, universal child care program is also critical for lifting women and their families out of poverty and is an important way to give all kids a good start in early learning.
Finally, making sure that all Canadians can access healthy, affordable food is a cornerstone of our Canadian food strategy. A national school nutrition program will make sure that no child enters their classroom hungry. Children should always have access to healthy food and the ability to concentrate on learning. In addition, New Democrats will ensure that a reformed Nutrition North program is able to better respond to the needs of Northern families, to put an end to chronic food insecurity in the North.
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