In just days, Canadians will choose our next federal government, as polls show a sure and steady upswing in support for Jack Layton and the NDP. In the lead up to Election Day on May 2, two things are certain. First, it’s critically important that all CUPE members get out and vote. Second, expect that the other parties will mount an unprecedented effort to attack Jack to try and stop the NDP’s surge in popularity.
Over the last four weeks, we have heard a lot about issues important to Canadians workers. As CUPE’s 600,000 plus members head to the ballot box, it’s important to consider the party positions on key issues for working people like corporate taxation, pensions, and the future of our public health care system.
CORPORATE TAX CUTS
Throughout the campaign, Stephen Harper has relentlessly defended the Conservative’s irresponsible corporate tax cuts. Yet he can still not show any conclusive proof these tax breaks for banks and oil companies are creating any new jobs or investments.
The only tax relief the Harper Conservatives are offering Canadians are a host of boutique tax credits. Some of these credits will result in only $75 in real savings, mostly for wealth Canadians. Low-income earners will see almost no benefit at all.
Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals are promising to stop the next planned corporate tax cut, keeping it at the present rate of 16 per cent, for now. Their platform is silent on what they would do in future budgets, and have offered little on effective job creation initiatives.
Only Jack Layton’s NDP has shown real vision on fair taxation, which would make Canada’s large, profitable corporations paying their fair share. The NDP would not only stop the corporate tax cut, they would raise the rate to 19.5 per cent. This would still be extremely competitive globally and far more responsible than the Conservative’s 15 per cent rate.
With this revenue, the NDP is pledging to make significant investments in infrastructure spending. This will not only help tackle the $123 billion infrastructure deficit, this spending is a proven job creator.
The NDP plan focuses on actual job creation, including a Job Creation Tax Credit, which rewards companies that create jobs.
It also includes a three per cent tax cut for small businesses. Unlike large corporations, small businesses have helped create over half of new jobs in Canada.
A Jack Layton government would help them continue being effective job creators.
The Harper Conservatives position on pensions is clear. For the vast majority of Canadians, it’s ‘fend for yourself.’ Harper has turned his back on improving the Canada Pension Plan, even though 80 per cent of Canadians support expanding CPP benefits.
Instead, the Conservatives are proposing a pooled retirement pension plan. This plan does nothing to address the underlying problems for the 40 per cent of Canadians who say they cannot afford to save for their retirements.
They are promising a miserly increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement for low-income seniors, but it’s accompanied by claw backs for other seniors living just barely above the poverty line.
The Liberals position on helping the 11 million Canadians without a workplace pension can best be described as “vague.” They have pledged to work with the provinces and territories towards gradually increasing CPP benefits, but make no promises on what level of increase they would like to see. They are also proposing a voluntary supplement to the CPP, but it is payable solely by workers.
Jack Layton’s NDP is the only party committed to doubling CPP benefits. The NDP plan recognizes that gradually expanding CPP benefits from the current insufficient 25 per cent of pre-retirement income to 50 per cent is the best, most cost effective way to improve retirement security for all Canadians.
For seniors most in urgent need, Jack Layton has pledged an NDP government would increase the GIS to ensure all Canadian seniors are lifted out of poverty in their first budget.
Health care is undisputedly the most important issue for Canadians in this election. The next federal government will be responsible for renewing the health care funding accord with the provinces and territories, which will be pivotal for strengthening our public Medicare system.
Both Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff have promised to continue the annual six per cent escalator in Canada Health Transfer funding in a renewed accord. Both of their platforms, however, make no mention of these promises. They are simply asking Canadians to trust their word.
In the defeated Conservative federal budget, the escalator increases were included into 2015-16, but only as a “planning assumption,” with the note “from 2014-15 onward, these growth rates have not yet been legislated and are therefore subject to change.”
There is a big difference between “planning assumption” and “commitment.”
The only party to clearly commit to continuing the six per cent escalator in a new 10-year accord is Jack Layton’s NDP. It’s a commitment in writing, in the NDP platform.
In addition, the NDP platform commits to establish a long-term care health transfer in the renewed accord, adding home and long-term care to Medicare.
Successive Liberal and Conservative governments have shown a complete lack of vision and leadership in defending and strengthening our universal public health care system.
Jack Layton’s NDP is the only party with a clear plan and commitment to public health care, and the only one Canadian workers can trust to ensure we all have access to the care we need.
THE PARTIES HAVE HAD THEIR SAY, NOW IT’S OUR TURN TO BE HEARD
After looking at the platforms and hearing the leaders on the campaign trail, the best choice for Canadian workers is clear. Jack Layton has the momentum. The NDP is offering the best plan, the leadership and vision Canadians need from their next federal government.
It’s now our turn to make it happen. It’s not too late to make a donation, or volunteer for your local NDP candidate. Most importantly, get out to vote on Election Day.
On May 2, we can make our choice for a better Canada, Jack Layton’s NDP.