FEDERAL COUNCIL REPORT – COVID-19
Dear members and supporters,
In these uncertain times, I thought it was important to provide our members and supporters with an update on Party operations. Like all organizations, COVID-19 has had an impact on our work, but we continue to move forward with the business of the NDP and we are encouraged by the continued engagement with, and enthusiasm for, the work of our Party, Leader, and Caucus.
Due to the current rules around in-person gatherings, we have been unable to hold a Federal Council meeting for some time. However, last night, NDP Federal Council met for an informal, virtual meeting, to hear a number of updates on our work and our operations. I thought it was important to outline some of the key points of discussion for the broader membership. Responding to the COVID-19 Crisis Council heard from Jagmeet Singh about the ongoing work of the NDP Caucus to ensure that the federal government measures to deal with the economic fallout meets the needs of all Canadians, particularly the most vulnerable.
Our Caucus continues to push the government to ensure that nobody is left behind as we move through these uncertain times and look to the future. Jagmeet has been focusing on a number of important issues including:
- Paid sick leave for all workers
- Improvements to long-term care facilities and working conditions for those who care for our elders
- Wage subsidies for businesses to ensure people can continue to work, and have a job to return to when this crisis is over
- Rent and mortgage relief
- Protections for workers and the most vulnerable
Without pressure from New Democrats across the country, those who need support will not receive it. Jagmeet spoke about ensuring that money goes to people, and not to CEO bonuses and that companies who subvert their obligations by using tax havens, should lose their eligibility for financial support.
1- Council members thanked Jagmeet and the Caucus for their outstanding efforts to make sure that the government programs were extended to meet the needs of more and more people.
Preparing for Convention 2021
- Last December, Council agreed to set dates and venues for a federal convention in early 2021. Conventions are an important moment to bring people together and energize our work. Although a venue has been selected for the convention, we will continue to assess the viability of a large in-person gathering. We are currently holding a venue in Winnipeg for spring 2021. Backup plans for a digital or virtual convention are in progress and a decision will be made in the fall.
Preparing for the next Election
- Nomination rules will be adopted at the next formal meeting of Council with a view to opening nominations in some parts of the country later this year. Decisions on this will depend on the progress made in opening up society over the next few months.
- The pandemic has resulted in reduced revenue, but Canadians continue to support the work of the party. Happily, the NDP has not had to lay off any staff and we have applied for the federal wage subsidy program in order to maintain our staffing levels throughout the year. We continue to fundraise digitally and by phone but there will be no in-person fundraising this summer. The full impact of the COVID-19 crisis and the economic effects it will have on our society are still unclear, as is the impact these economic changes might have on our fundraising. We continue to work hard to connect with our donor base, and thankfully, many of our donors are still in a position to give generously.
Federal Council members appreciated the work of the Caucus and party during this difficult time and were encouraged by the work of the Building for Better Task Force. Many Council members anticipated in the ongoing regional town halls and are heartened by the efforts to continue and increase communication through new technologies during this period of physical distancing. A lot has been learned over the last two months about how politics and organizing can operate through technology. Many of those lessons will inform ne modes of outreach well after this crisis has passed us by.
In a minority parliament, we have a responsibility to fight hard for people in the House of Commons, hold the government to account, and prepare for the next election. It is certainly clearer than ever how important it has been to have our Caucus in parliament and our members and activists organizing in communities across the country. It is unlikely, but not impossible, that there will be an election in 2020 but minority governments can be unpredictable. We know that a larger Caucus after the next election, whenever it comes, is essential and we will organize to be ready for an election whenever it happens.
The pandemic has exposed many of the deep, structural inequalities in our society and highlighted the importance of the NDP in pressing for better and calling the rich and powerful to account. We will continue to do our part to advocate and organize for a better world.