Strong Communities

Strong Communities

Because Canada depends on it.

At its heart, Canada is a community of communities, working together with a shared sense of purpose. Our nation needs a government that will invest in the fundamental building blocks on which our neighbourhoods rely – from healthcare to transit, child care to public parks, bridges to local agriculture. All with the aim of increasing the affordability and livability of the towns and cities we call home.

The current situation is not working for many Canadians. The dream of homeownership and affordable rental housing is slipping away. Canadians are being asked to pay out-of-pocket for everything from prescription medicine to dental care, while child care is becoming increasingly unaffordable. Today, even two-income households are having trouble making ends meet month in, month out.

To add insult to injury, consecutive federal governments have allowed critical infrastructure to go without needed maintenance. Lack of investment in the infrastructure that makes our cities productive and our towns livable is risky behaviour. Crumbling bridges, aging and insufficient transit, nonexistent rail infrastructure – these problems are no longer rarities, they have become the norm. We want to invest in our communities, just as previous generations invested in the systems we have allowed to fall into disrepair. A modern 21st century economy is undermined by deteriorating infrastructure.

Because Canada depends on it, our top priorities for building strong Canadian communities are to:


Defend Canada’s public health care

Defend single-payer universal health care. Bring all parties back to the table for a renewal of the Health Accord. Innovate in health care through electronic health records, patient-centred team medicine built around the family physician working with nurse-practitioners, pharmacists, midwives, naturopaths and others.

Expand health care to cover prescription medication for all Canadians and public dental coverage for low-income youth (under 18 years of age), and increase the emphasis on preventative health care.

Every developed country in the world with a universal health care system provides prescription drug coverage, except Canada. Truly universal health care means guaranteeing that all Canadians have access to the medication they need, and the Green Party will fight to expand public health care to cover prescription medication.

We will implement a National Pharmacare Plan that, through the advantage of bulk buying, will actually save Canadians $11 billion each year. It will especially benefit senior citizens, who spend the most on prescription medication, and it will allow physicians and doctors to better track if patients are at risk of dangerous over-medication. We will be far more rigorous in assessing new drug applications. We will apply the gold standard for pharmaceutical review to ensure we reject drugs shown to hurt more people than they heal. At the same time, our Pharmacare Plan will provide much needed coverage to the millions of Canadians who are forced to pay out-of-pocket for prescription medication every year.

It is appalling that in a country as wealthy as Canada, our children do not have guaranteed no-cost access to high quality dental care. In order to address the crisis among the most marginal in our society, we will expand our public health care coverage to include dental coverage for low-income Canadians under the age of eighteen.

Canadians know that the best way we can reduce the burden on our health care system is to work to ensure we don’t get sick in the first place. Despite this, our medical system focuses disproportionately on cure and not enough on prevention. We will work with the provinces to develop preventative health care guidelines that incentivize active lifestyles and healthy diets, saving our system millions by keeping Canadians healthy from childhood onwards.

As a first order of business after the election, we will ensure the National Conference on Lyme Disease, required by law in the Green Party’s first bill, will develop a national strategy to confront this growing threat. It is scheduled for November to be chaired by the federal Minister of Health.

As part of the big picture project of creating healthy communities, we will adopt stricter regulations to prohibit cancer-causing chemicals in our food and consumer products.


Implement a National Seniors Strategy

The Conservative approach to public policy is a series of unrelated, gimmicky, vote-buying schemes. Canada’s seniors deserve better. We will work through the Council of Canadian Governments to develop a National Seniors Strategy with the following elements:

  • A Housing plan, with affordable, predictable home care support;
  • A Guaranteed Livable Income to ensure no Canadian lives in poverty;
  • Pharmacare – strongly benefits seniors;
  • A National Dementia Strategy, including more long-term care beds in neighbourhood facilities;
  • An approach that supports “aging in place”;
  • Pension protection, expansion of CPP;
  • Promotion of intergenerational programs that allow our kids – from toddlers to high school students – to visit seniors and develop relationships that have proven benefits to both generations;
  • Convenient and safe public transport to support independent living;
  • Access to the equity in homes to support day-to-day living expenses;
  • Addressing the Supreme Court of Canada decision to allow physician-assisted death.

The most extreme challenges of aging are experienced by seniors living in poverty, a disproportionate proportion of whom are women. While the percentage of seniors living in poverty dropped dramatically from a high of approximately 30 percent in 1976, to a low of 4.7 percent in 2007, the poverty rates for seniors have begun to move up once again – 5.8 percent in 2008. We cannot be complacent about the economic struggles of seniors.

The Green Party supports expansion of CPP as the most reliable and predictable pension plan.


Eliminate poverty and challenge inequality

Implementing a Guaranteed Livable Income, ensuring equal pay for equal work, and ensuring high quality child care for every Canadian family who wants it, while providing a school nutrition program – providing healthy food to kids in school to help them learn better.

Despite the growing number of two-income households, Canadian families are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet. Green Party programs and policies will reduce income inequality, and ensure all Canadians have the opportunity to prosper.

We will phase-in a national Guaranteed Livable Income, to ensure that no person's income falls below what is necessary for health, life and dignity. Through the Council of Canadian Governments we will work with the other levels of government whose inadequate poverty band-aid solutions (such as welfare, disability programs) can be rolled up in order to fund Guaranteed Livable Income.

Providing our most at-risk citizens with the resources they need to make ends meet greatly reduces the burden on our emergency and social services, our health care and criminal justice systems – saving Canadian society money and empowering all citizens to overcome periods of hardship. As an immediate first step, the Green Party would implement a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour. By providing a cheque to every Canadian over 18, the carbon fee and dividend system will also assist in providing help to those who need it most.

We will implement a National Housing Strategy based on Housing First principles. Housing First is a proven, recovery-oriented approach that centres on quickly moving people experiencing homelessness into independent, permanent housing, and then providing additional supports and services as needed. This strategy will guarantee dignity and support for Canadians at the margins of our society, and will help address homelessness while at the same time reducing the burden on our emergency and health services.

Our Housing Strategy will address the continuum of needs – from social housing for those in poverty or dealing with mental health and addiction problems, to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit housing crises, to the market failures depriving those with even a decent income of access to the affordable housing they need. We can ensure that all housing needs are met – whether seniors, youth, or the stressed middle class.

It is a black mark against Canada that, in 2015, Canadian women earn, on average, $8,000 less per year than their male counterparts for doing the same jobs. We will fight to end gender-based discrimination in the workplace and in Canadian society at large, and ensure that Canada eliminates the gender wage gap once and for all.

Although we must continue to work to address deeply-rooted gender bias in Canadian society, it will take time. One important step is ensuring high-quality affordable child care. We will work with the provinces, territories and Indigenous communities to establish accessible, convenient, enriched and affordable child care spaces for any Canadian family that seeks it. We will support women to re-enter the workforce whenever they choose after having children. The Green Party believes that workplace childcare has many advantages – enhanced parenting time and access to children through the work day, extension of breast-feeding opportunities, improved employee productivity, and improving the convenience of public transport when parents and kids share their morning destination. Tax breaks to employers for the creation of child care spaces is one tool among many we will use to ensure that families have the spaces they need.


Build strong First Nations and indigenous communities

We need to move to implement the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The path to justice, healing and reconciliation begins with accepting a painful truth: the horrors of the residential school system constituted a policy of cultural genocide. There is no way to undo the damage nor to compensate for the grief and loss of many generations of children and families. The truth is hard to absorb, but absorb it we must.

True reconciliation will take time, and while we work to build a new, nation-to-nation partnership based on mutual respect and understanding, there are urgent and important steps that must be taken by the federal government to put the relationship on firmer footing.

We begin by recognizing indigenous rights and title, and will negotiate in good faith to settle land claims, establish treaties and self-government arrangements, and move to repeal the Indian Act should that be the consensus of First Nations. We will respect the rights of First Nations to take leadership of development projects on their traditional territories.

Creating opportunity for indigenous communities and their people means ensuring access to quality public services for all First Nations, Métis and Inuit. It requires adequate funding for housing, education, and health care, both on and off reserves. We will work to expand rural health care infrastructure by investing in telehealth and mobile medical units, to ensure indigenous communities have access to critical care.

The ongoing crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women must be urgently addressed. We will launch a national inquiry and work to ensure that structural violence against indigenous communities is addressed.

We also recognize the critical importance of defending languages and cultures, and will provide new federal funding for culturally appropriate education in traditional languages.


Reverse CBC-Radio Canada funding cuts, investing an additional $285 million in the first year of our new Green Parliament and $315 million in every subsequent year to protect our national broadcaster

We will ensure Radio Canada and CBC have adequate and stable funding, reversing the Harper Conservatives’ $117-million cut, and investing an additional $168-million and $315 million every year thereafter to rebuild the CBC and Radio-Canada’s local coverage and capacity. We will also restructure the governance structure of the public broadcaster to end the political influence of partisan cronies being appointed to the board.

We need to re-invest in a CBC/Radio-Canada that is distinctly public and distinctly Canadian, ensuring our public broadcaster has the resources and expertise to provide quality local news coverage from our biggest communities to our smallest. The CBC and Radio Canada define what it means to be Canadian by covering the unique, the unconventional, and the truly Canadian. We'll make sure it has adequate and sustainable funding so it can continue to enrich our lives for years to come.

In addition, we will increase funding to all of Canada’s arts and culture organizations including the Canada Council for the Arts and Telefilm Canada.

In addition to restoring funding to CBC and Radio-Canada, we will work to rebuild the arm’s length governance of our arts and cultural institutions to prevent political interference, prevent further monopolization of Canadian media, and defend the freedom and integrity of the internet by enshrining the principle of “net-neutrality” in Canadian legislation.

We must be very concerned about the threat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and its Crown Corporation provisions. If adopted, it could undermine our ability to maintain many public services provided through Crown corporations, including to our cultural industries.


Protecting Canada Post

Daily mail service to everyone’s front door

Canadians in the 21st century deserve postal service to their doors. Canada Post is experiencing a decline in letter service, but an increase in parcel delivery. The impact of the internet cuts both ways: more emails reduce letters by post; on-line shopping has increased parcels. Small business is very dependent on postal service. We cannot afford to lose a strong Canada Post.

Fortunately, Canada Post is still profitable. It can be sustainable and profitable into the future. CUPW has long advocated a diversification of services. This is particularly valuable as Canada Post is in every community – big and small. As commercial banks have withdrawn their physical presence in many communities, Canada Post can offer much needed services. Other countries have allowed their postal services to sell insurance, provide banking services and other services to remote communities. Perhaps the best model is Israel where postal service has been diversified with over 70 different products and services.

We will reverse recent decisions to reduce home delivery and we will set Canada Post on a profitable course for its future.


Keep our communities safe

Creating peace of mind for Canadians by reversing funding cuts and re-investing in disaster preparedness, training, and equipment for our forces on the frontlines of keeping our communities safe.

We must make sure that the Canadians tasked with keeping us safe are fully-resourced, well-trained, and equipped to fulfill their mission – from the Canadian Forces to civilian forces like the Coast Guard, Park Rangers, Fisheries Patrol, and Canadian Space Agency. We will re-open the shuttered Coast Guard stations on our coastlines.

Keeping our communities safe means strengthening Canada’s defence capacity by prioritizing roles and missions for our forces that focus on peacekeeping; defensive missions with our allies; border, northern, and coast guard patrols; search and rescue missions; and patrolling our parks.

Recognizing the critical role that our forces play also means respecting and truly taking care of our veterans. Canadian veterans deserve our grateful and ongoing support, including secure and generous pensions. Our veterans should never be forced to fight in the courts to secure their long-term benefits or to ensure that Veterans Affairs disability pension promises are honoured.

We will re-open the Veterans Affairs offices across Canada, reversing the $200 million cut to Veterans Affairs. Our veterans deserve more than to be left on hold with a government 1-800 number that is never answered, instead of the help they need from a compassionate person who knows their situation. We will ensure access to service dogs trained to assist veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Perhaps most importantly, keeping our communities safe means building Canada’s disaster preparedness capacity. We will invest in comprehensive earthquake, forest fire, flooding and tsunami response plans to bring Canadian disaster readiness up to world-class standards, so we can more ably respond to the extreme weather events that are becoming more common as the climate changes.