Election Fever: What does the 2021 Election mean for a Post-Pandemic Canada?

September 16, 2021

Mallika Tiwari and Palweet Kaur Parmar

Advanced polls have concluded and Election Day is just around the corner. With two French-language and one English debate under their belts, the party leaders are squaring off for the final week of the campaign. The major parties have outlined their plans for Canada’s future and their response on the pandemic’s impact on Canada’s economy, work force and mental health.

We have broken down the key elements of the major party platforms to help guide you as you navigate the news cycle, strategize, create content and vote!

Liberal Party of Canada

With this election, the incumbent party is vying for a majority government and hopes that their pandemic response will motivate Canadians to vote the Liberals back into power.

The Liberals plan to extend current COVID-19 benefits, including rent and wage subsidies, while enhancing the Canadian Workers Benefit to support those working in low-wage jobs. The party will also decrease the income level at which the Canada Workers Benefit starts to $22,944 for individuals and $26,177 for families. They want to go beyond the creation of one million jobs (as outlined in the Conservative’s platform) and implement a “right to repair” for home appliances, electronics and digital devices. In addition, they plan to reignite the hard-hit tourism sector with a wage and rent support program.

The party plans to increase payments from financial institutions (with earnings of more than $1 billion) by increasing their income tax rates from 15 to 18 per cent. In addition, they will create a minimum tax rule so that Canadians in the top tax bracket pay at least 15 per cent income tax and a luxury tax on new cars and private aircraft (worth at least $100,000).

To improve affordability of housing, the Liberals are proposing a two-year ban on foreign buyers and new taxes on house-flipping and vacant foreign-owned homes. They also plan to ban blind bidding on homes and create a First Home Savings Account, allowing first-time buyers to save up to $40,000 in tax-deductible contributions.

The Liberals have outlined their plans for pandemic preparedness and have made COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for federal service workers along with 10 days of paid sick leaves. They will also support vaccine mandates through a $1 billion COVID-19 Proof of Vaccine fund.

Health care is a vital part of the Liberals’ pandemic plan. They have promised to increase accessibility to physicians, make prescription medication more affordable and improve standards of long-term care homes. With mental health as a key area of focus, the Liberals pledge to invest $4.5 billion (over five years) in the Canada Mental Health Transfer, as well as $150 million for mental health and PTSD programs. Their mental health promise also extends to Indigenous communities allocating $1.4 billion for developing and implementing a mental health and wellness strategy.

The Liberal Party of Canada has an ambitious climate change plan that promises to bring national greenhouse gas emissions 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by the end of the decade. The goal is to make Canada a net-zero emissions country by 2050by banning single use plastics by 2030 and investing $1 billion over five years to clean energy technology projects. They will support hydro and grid interconnection projects in the North with $40.4 million over three years and invest $36 million over three years for sustainable clean energy projects in Indigenous communities.

The party’s childcare plan involves investing $30 billion over five years for a national childcare system. The Liberals have already signed multi-billion-dollar deals with eight provinces and territories to cut fees to an average of $10 per day in five years. They hope to give adoptive parents an additional 15 weeks of parental leave to match the level of other new parents.

Improvements to senior care is another platform issue that the Liberals hope to target by increasing Old Age Security benefits by 10 per cent for pensioners 75 or older. They also promise to spend $9 billion over five years for seniors and to permanently increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement by $500 annually for single seniors and $750 for senior couples over 65.

Conservative Party of Canada

The Conservatives’ economic plan includes a commitment to creating one million jobs and providing loans up to $200, 000 for small and medium businesses in the hospitality, retail and tourism sectors. They have envisioned a “Canada Job Surge Plan” that will pay up 50% of the salary for new hires for six months once the emergency wage subsidy is phased out. The Conservatives also hope to launch a one-month Dine and Discover Program that gives a 50 per cent rebate for food and non-alcoholic drinks from Monday to Wednesday to help the hard-hit food service and restaurant industry.

The Conservative Party has an ambitious plan to give Canadians a month-long “holiday” from paying the five per cent federal goods and services tax during the month of December. They would double Canada Workers Benefit to a maximum of $2,800 per person, or $5,000 per family, and introduce a five per cent tax credit for capital investments made in 2022-2023. The party will also cut the income tax rate for new patented technologies developed in Canada.

The Conservatives’ approach to housing affordability includes a two-year ban on foreign buyers, while encouraging foreign investment in affordable rental housing. They will increase the limit on eligibility for mortgage insurance and index it to home price inflation and change the rules of the mortgage stress test so buyers can borrow more.

The Conservative Party will implement a “Canada Emergency Preparedness Plan” to prepare for future public health threats. They are calling for a public inquiry into the Liberals’ pandemic response and will require all vaccinated federal public servants to pass a daily rapid test. They also intend to include domestic vaccine research and development in Canada’s pandemic plan.

In health care, a new agreement to raise the Canada Health Transfer amount to at least six per cent, or approximately $60 billion over the next decade, is on the table. They pledge $1 billion to Indigenous mental health programs over five years and $150 million over three years in grants to non-profits and charities that focus on mental health and wellness programs.

The Conservatives’ plan to tackle climate change can be broken down into four parts:

  1. Implement carbon border tariffs on China and other major polluters.
  2. Increase the adoption of zero-emissions vehicles.
  3. Introduce a personal low carbon savings account, a carbon-pricing scheme that would see Canadians paying a surcharge when they buy fossil fuels, with the money going into a savings account earmarked for green purchases.
  4. Meet Canada’s emission reduction target under the Paris agreement and develop a national clean energy strategy with a tax credit for Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage technology.

The childcare plan proposed by the Conservatives calls for the cancellation of the Liberals’ national childcare program yet allows provinces and territories with signed deals to keep the funds that have already been paid out. They will also convert the existing childcare expense deduction into a refundable tax credit to cover up to 75 per cent of childcare costs for lower-income families.

The Conservative Party of Canada promises a Canada Seniors Care Benefit paying $200 per month, to any Canadian households supporting a parent over the age of 70. They will also allow seniors or their caregivers to claim the Medical Expense Tax Credit for home care.

New Democratic Party of Canada

The NDP’s economic recovery plan hinges on a wealth tax would charge one per cent each year on the value of household assets above $20 million. They promise to extend wage and rent subsidies for small businesses, establish a $15 per hour minimum wage that would rise to $20 per hour and implement a hiring bonus that would foot the employer portion of Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan for new hires. Like their federal peers, they promise one million new jobs with a focus on transit, community infrastructure, affordable housing and energy-efficient retrofitting. They also plan to expand domestic manufacturing in vital sectors such as auto, aerospace, shipbuilding, construction materials, pharmaceuticals and personal protective equipment.

The NDP will create a minimum tax rule for those in the top tax bracket who will pay at least 15 per cent income tax and a temporary COVID-19 excess profit tax of 15 per cent on large corporate windfalls earned during the pandemic. A luxury tax on purchases such as yachts and private jets will also be introduced, as well as one per cent wealth tax for individuals with more than $10 million in wealth.

Proposed housing affordability measures with this party include a 20 per cent tax on foreign buyers and increases the taxable portion of capital gains on the sale of homes flipped by investors from 50 per cent to 75 per cent. They are also proposing to double the Home Buyers’ Tax Credit to $10,000, and to increase maximum amortization for mortgages to 30 years up from the current 25-year maximum.

With the NDP government in Canada’s post-pandemic economy, Canadians can expect a Crown corporation for vaccine production and federally led personal protective equipment manufacturing. They support lifting the patents of COVID-19 vaccines and will enforce a vaccine mandate for federal workers, with paid leave for workers to get the vaccine.

Changes to health care are a pivotal part of the NDP platform. They recommend a universal pharma care program for Canadian citizens and permanent residents. It would begin in 2022 and use $10 billion in federal funds. With a promise to end private, for-profit long-term care homes, they plan to expand income security programs to a guaranteed livable income for people with disabilities. They will also establish mental health care for all uninsured Canadians and a long-term plan to implement ear care, eye care and fertility treatment. The NDP also pledge to close the health gap in Indigenous communities.

The party also supports the Liberals’ net-zero legislation and has set a target of reducing carbon emissions to 50 per cent below 2005 levels, by 2030. They want to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and immediately ban single-use plastics, protecting workers in that sector by supporting a transition for these facilities to make new products. The NDP hopes to retrofit all buildings in Canada by 2050 and have set a target of net carbon-free electricity by 2030, with a goal of 100% non-emitting electricity by 2040.

The NDP’s childcare program proposes relief funds to re-open non-profit childcare centres that closed due to the pandemic and increased funding to create more childcare spaces across the country. The NDP will also work with the provinces to build a universal $10 per day childcare system.

The party’s National Seniors Strategy includes a funded dementia strategy and plans to prevent elder abuse. They also promise to make the Canada Caregiver Tax Credit refundable.

Bloc Québecois

The Bloc Québecois’ economic recovery plan outlines reforms to employment insurance that would better support seasonal and gig workers and changes to pandemic business support programs for seasonal companies, such as sugar shacks and festivals. The Bloc Québecois aims to negotiate an exemption to President Joe Biden’s “Buy American Bill” for local green energy companies to promote a greener economy. They also hope to invest in jobs in rural areas and invest in Indigenous-led innovation.

The Bloc’s housing affordability plan calls for the federal government to increase housing subsidies for low-income households and that all surplus, federally-owned properties be used to develop new housing for low-income households. They are also calling for a tax on real estate speculation and pandemic-related federal funding for homelessness to be made permanent.

While pledging to establish domestic vaccine development and manufacturing, their pandemic preparedness plan is centered on improving conditions for seniors and by tackling labour shortages.

As a part of their health care plan, they want the federal government to increase its share of health care funding to 35 per cent of its cost (from the current 22 per cent). Under Yves-François Blanchet, the Bloc Québecois hopes to implement a Canadian pharmaceutical strategy to facilitate access to prescription medication at reduced costs.

The Bloc Québecois’ climate change plan proposes an end to fossil fuel subsidies and a redirection of unspent money from the Trans Mountain pipeline to renewable projects. They also aim to exceed Canada’s Paris agreement targets for carbon emissions and force provinces, that have emissions higher than the national average, to pay into a “green equalization” fund to be distributed to provinces polluting less.

The Bloc Québecois has raised concerns about the federal government dictating provinces on the issue of childcare and points to Québec’s existing government-subsidized childcare program as an example to follow. They are calling for childcare funding for the province to be transferred to Québec with no strings attached.

While not as comprehensive as other parties, their senior care plan intends to boost Old Age Security benefit by $110 a month for those aged 65 and up.

Green Party of Canada

Under Annamie Paul, the Green Party’s economic recovery plan consists of a raise in the federal minimum wage to $15 and a ban on unpaid internships that are not for school credits. They aim to eliminate personal taxes on incomes below the low-income cut-off of $20,00 and raise corporate taxes over four years from 15 per cent to 19 per cent. They plan to create legislation that would incentivize green investment and jobs, as well as reduce the federal small business tax to nine per cent, while establishing guaranteed livable income.

To improve housing affordability, the Green Party will expand the Rapid Housing Initiative to build new affordable housing more quickly, restore tax incentives for building purpose-built rental housing and require that all federally funded housing developments dedicate 30 per cent of units for deeply affordable housing. They will also close all tax haven loopholes that allow foreign investors to hide the names of owners of properties in Canada and introduce a vacancy tax on foreign and corporate residential property owners.

Their pandemic preparedness plan is driven by public inquiry of the pandemic response regarding areas of improvement. They also want to ensure that Canada has the capacity to manufacture pharmaceuticals and personal protective equipment to decrease Canada’s dependence on global supply chains.

The health care goals of the Green Party include reform to long-term care, universal pharma care and dental care for low-income Canadians. The Green Party will establish a national mental health strategy that allocates direct federal investment in community-based mental health care. They also hope to tackle the opioid crisis by decriminalizing all drug possession and creating a national safe supply program. They would also bring long-term care under the Canada Health Act and create national standards for long-term care facilities.

The Green Party has an ambitious climate change plan that includes a 60 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emission and guarantees that 100 per cent of electricity is produced with renewable sources by 2030. They aim to have net-zero emissions as soon as possible, including 100 per cent zero-emission vessels on inland waters by 2030 and on oceans by 2040. They want to transition to green transportation by stopping the sale of internal combustion engine passenger vehicles by 2030 and ban single-use plastics by the end of 2021. They also plan to invest in comprehensive retraining and apprenticeship programs to reskill industrial trades workers for jobs in the renewable energy sector.

The party’s childcare platform would boost federal funding to at least one per cent of GDP annually. They would eliminate GST on all construction costs related to childcare spaces and dedicate additional resources to make universal, affordable childcare a reality for all Canadians.

The Green Party’s senior care platform will include a fully funded National Dementia Strategy and the establishment of a Federal Office of the Seniors’ Advocate to provide oversight on issues related to seniors. They will also develop a National Elder Abuse and Neglect Strategy to raise awareness about and prevent elder abuse across the country.

An understanding of the platforms of each party will help you vote with greater confidence. Your vote matters so please go out and vote on September 20.

For more information on the election process, visit: Elections Canada – Home Page for the 2021 Federal Election

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