Ottawa – October 7, 2020 – The Trudeau government’s Throne Speech contains several familiar promises that we have heard many times before, like commitments to universal childcare and pharmacare. The big question is whether the Liberals will actually fulfill their promises or revert to their old ways of overpromising and underdelivering.
Canadians may have a better chance of compelling the Liberals to live up to their promises this time around because of the minority government scenario. Unless Justin Trudeau wants to force an election, he is going to need the support of others in order to move his agenda through the House of Commons. And this is where Jagmeet Singh and the New Democratic Party (NDP) have proven that they know how to make a minority government work.
Unlike other parties, the New Democrats have demonstrated a keen ability to push the Liberal government to improve legislation aimed at assisting people and businesses during COVID-19. When the Liberals first introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), it was Jagmeet Singh and the NDP who forced the Liberals to increase the payout to $2,000 per month. When the Liberals announced the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), they offered to cover a measly 15 percent of wages for workers impacted by the pandemic. But thanks to the efforts of Singh’s NDP and unions like UFCW Canada, the benefit was increased to 70 percent.
In addition to these victories, the New Democrats also convinced the Trudeau Liberals to move on providing a student benefit in response to the coronavirus crisis, as well as new assistance for disabled Canadians.
The first government bill introduced after the Throne Speech, Bill C-4, replaces CERB with three other benefits designed to continue helping Canadians impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the bill was passed, the Trudeau government’s initial proposals would have meant that people who were still unable to work or who had lost their jobs due to the coronavirus would have received significantly less money than they did while on CERB. Here again, though, Singh’s NDP used their influence in the current minority government situation to make the Liberals increase the amount of assistance available to people who were receiving CERB. Jagmeet also compelled the government to take real action on paid sick days.
As a result of this important and ongoing work, we may now be closer than we have ever been to achieving major social programs like universal childcare and pharmacare. And it is not just because a Liberal government is once again making the same old promises. It is because Jagmeet Singh and Canada’s New Democrats have shown that they understand how to make a minority government work for the benefit of all Canadians.