If elected, the New Democrats would create “over one million jobs,” NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Wednesday.
“A New Democratic plan starts with making sure that workers are protected, and workers are in the best position possible to work, and that they have good conditions at work,” Singh said in Windsor during an election-campaign-style event.
“But our plan also includes a number of measures that (will) create economic activity.”
Flanked by two NDP candidates — former Windsor-area MPs Tracey Ramsay and Cheryl Hardcastle, who both lost their seats in the 2019 election — Singh presented the broad outline of a plan for: better conditions, pay, and training opportunities for workers; big investments in infrastructure, transportation, and housing; a boost to Canada’s manufacturing sector through sectoral investments and buy-Canadian policies; and a stronger social-safety net.
Singh’s speech and the accompanying 11-page document were, however, quite short on details. Some of the planks require buy-in from provinces. No specific dollar figures or timelines were attached to any of the promises.
Those details will be in the NDP platform when it’s released in August in preparation for a possible late-summer or early-fall election, said Melanie Richer, Singh’s communications director.
Wednesday’s focus on jobs is the first of a series of policy-plan announcements the party will make in the coming weeks, Richer said.
Rather than funding his jobs plan through deficit spending, Singh said he’d raise revenue by taxing both wealthy individuals and multinational corporation like Amazon and Netflix.
NDP MP Peter Julian put forward a motion in the House of Commons earlier this year to introduce a one per cent tax on personal wealth over $20 million. The wealth tax was in the NDP’s 2019 platform, along with a proposed digital-services tax. In its 2021 budget, the federal government promised a three per cent digital-services tax, which the parliamentary budget officer said could raise $4 billion over five years.
The NDP’s document began with a promise to “ensure that all Canadian workers have access to 10 paid sick days, no matter what kind of job they have.”
In response to iPolitics’ questions, Singh qualified that by saying he’d first introduce a bill for 10 paid sick days “for federally regulated industries that would only apply to federally regulated jobs.”
Federally regulated industries include banking, air transport, interprovincial road and rail transport, telecoms, and broadcasting, among others.
Singh pressed the Liberals for a federal sick-leave program earlier this year, while the third wave of the pandemic raged and many experts said a lack of paid time off was leading to the rampant spread of COVID-19 in workplaces.
The eventual Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) doesn’t operate the same as provincially mandated sick days, because Ottawa alone doesn’t hold the constitutional levers required to create such a program.
The CRSB requires employees to miss at least half a week of work, file specific paperwork, and be compensated by Ottawa later. A provincially mandated program for paid sick leave requires the employer to pay the worker for the time off, before being compensated by the provincial government.
Mandating 10 sick days for federally regulated jobs first would have the effect of pressuring provincial governments to follow suit, Singh said.
“Moving forward, paid sick leave should be something all Canadians can count on, and we want to start at the federal level,” he said.
Another key component of the plan is to build 500,000 social and affordable housing units in what’s been an overheated housing market.
Canadian labour and materials will be used both to build the housing and to upgrade Canada’s energy and transportation infrastructure so it produces fewer carbon emissions, Singh said.
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