January 2015 eNewsletter

As inequality in Canada continues to grow, I continue to get asked about what New Democrats will do to make life more affordable for all Canadians.  New Democrats are committed to strengthening the middle class and raising up all those who have fallen out of the middle class due to the economic policies of both the Liberals and the Conservatives.  

Our leader, Tom Mulcair, also committed to implementing a $15 a day universal childcare. This includes creating 1 million licenced childcare spaces across Canada. This will create more jobs for childcare workers, and it will ensure that parents can afford to enroll their children in quality care while they’re working.  It ensures that more women can participate in the workforce and will return new tax dollars to both the federal and provincial treasuries as Quebec`s program has done.  It has been shown that for every $1 invested in childcare our economy grows by $2.

New Democrats have also committed to raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. We believe that those who go to work every day and work hard should be paid enough to support themselves and their families.  We recognize that low income earners are people of all ages and backgrounds and that the majority of minimum wage workers are women.  Increasing the federal minimum wage in the finance, telecommunications , and transportation industries will empower those workers and reduce their dependency on social assistance and food banks. 

New Democrats are committed to ensuring that all seniors live in dignity and have financial security once they retireWe will return the age of eligibility for OAS to 65, increase the GIS to eliminate poverty among seniors, and expand the universal Canada Pension Plan in order to double the maximum retirement benefit.  As many as 5.8 million Canadians - nearly a third of our work force - are facing a steep decline in their standard of living upon retirement, and for many young Canadians the situation looks even more dire. This is a systemic problem and without real action to improve pensions and savings in the present, Canadians will be facing a retirement security crisis in the future.

Right now, only 38.8% of Canadians have access to a workplace pension plan.  32.6% of Canadians have access to a defined benefit plan, meaning a plan which will provide a guaranteed benefit.  Only 17.4% of employees in the private sector have access to a defined benefit plan, down from 30.7% in 1982.  These numbers tell a story of an increasingly insecure retirement future for Canadians. By 2008, in Canada, nearly half a million seniors were living in in poverty.  It is clear that if we do not act now to secure pensions, the very stability of Canada’s economic future is at risk. By 2030 Liberal and Conservative government cuts will have drained $26 billion a year in retirement income out of the pockets of Canadians.

Jobs are of course a key part of any attack on rising inequality in Canada.  That`s why Tom committed this past week to an income tax reduction for small business from 11% to 9% and also to continuing tax breaks for businesses investing in new equipment and technology.  As well, New Democrats are committed to investing in the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. We would end the $1.3 billion in annual subsidies to fossil fuel industries and shift those dollars to investment in jobs in the renewable energy and green tech industries.  Not only would this help meet the challenge of climate change, we know that investments in renewable energy, dollar for dollar, create more jobs and will create good jobs in every community and not just in the oil sands.   

Inequality and affordability are complex issues that have an impact on all Canadians, whether directly or indirectly. I’m worried about the steep increase in inequality over the last decade and I believe in a proactive response from government.  This includes investing in programs and services that have proven to have a positive impact on communities and have shown that they can contribute towards sustainability and resiliency at both the personal and national economic levels.

Warm Regards,

Randall Garrison, MP (Esquimalt - Juan de Fuca)