OPSEU is a union of public sector workers – many of the services we provide are ultimately funded by the federal government. As a service to members, OPSEU has compared the platforms and commitments made by the parties competing in the upcoming federal election. This leaflet gives the highlights of that analysis.
To see the parties’ platforms, visit:
As a union, OPSEU is first and foremost committed to ensuring its members – and all workers – have the power to demand fair wages and decent working conditions
- Conservatives: The Conservatives’ platform is silent on the issue of labour rights. The party and its provincial counterparts have a long history of legislating wage caps, imposing bargaining settlements, blocking or rolling back minimum wage increases, and making it harder for workers to join a union.
- The Green Party says it “will not use back-to-work legislation as a bargaining tool,” and promises to consult “workers and their unions” to ensure a just transition to a green economy. The Greens also promise a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage, and protections for workers’ pensions if their company goes bankrupt. However, the party’s provincial counterpart in British Columbia voted against measures to make it easier for workers to join a union.
- Liberals: The Liberal platform is silent on unions but does promise a $15-an-hour minimum wage for federal workers. Like the Conservatives, the Liberals and their provincial counterparts have a history of attempting to legislate wage caps and imposing bargaining settlements.
- NDP: The NDP promises to ban the use of replacement workers, making it easier for workers to join a union, and establishing a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage. The NDP also promises to stop companies from paying out bonuses and dividends if its pension plan is underfunded, and to protect workers’ pensions if a company goes bankrupt.
Taxes are the investment we make in the public services that ensure prosperity and opportunity are shared fairly.
- Conservatives: The main theme of the Conservatives’ platform is tax cuts. From income tax cuts to repealing carbon taxes, the party’s tax cuts will cost the government at least $6 billion a year that could have been invested in public services. The Conservatives do pledge do begin taxing massive multinational tech companies like Facebook and Google, but the tax will be waived if the multinational chooses to locate and pay corporate tax here.
- The Green Party: The Greens are proposing a host of tax measures to ensure the wealthy pay their share of the investment needed to transition to a green economy. These include raising corporate taxes from 15 per cent to 21 per cent, charging a five per cent surtax on bank profits, taxing financial transactions at 0.2 per cent, and taxing multinational tech giants.
- Liberals: The Liberals are essentially matching the Conservatives’ income tax cuts, which will cost at least $6 billion a year in lost revenue. A 10 per cent tax on luxury cars and boats, and a commitment to tax multinational tech giants are promising moves.
- NDP: The NDP will raise nearly $70 billion to invest in public services over the next 10 years by creating a “wealth tax” of 1 per cent on all personal wealth over $20 million, and increasing corporate taxes from 15 to 18 per cent.
Public Services and Privatization
Public services are called “the great equalizer” with good reason: they ensure that people have access to education, health care, and opportunity regardless of how rich or well-connected they were born.
- Conservatives: The Conservative platform’s aggressive tax cuts and pledge to balance the budget within five years would require $53 billion in cuts to federal public services and programs. The Conservatives also promise to cut regulations by 25 per cent in four years. And while the party’s platform doesn’t mention privatization, it has a long and enthusiastic history at both the federal and provincial levels of of advocating for and carrying out the privatization of public services.
- Greens: The Greens’ promise to base provincial health funding on demographics and need instead of GDP growth is impressive, as is its commitment to universal Pharmacare and dental coverage for “low income Canadians.” Also laudable are the party’s pledges to forgive all student debt, make post-secondary and trades education free, and exclude private profit from the Canada Infrastructure Bank. More troubling is the party’s pledge to institute a guaranteed annual income that would “replace” social assistance payment programs – which will lead to the privatization of vital social assistance programs and supports.
- Liberals: The Liberals are promising to “move towards” a national Pharmacare program and expanded child care, but it must be remembered that the party has failed to act on similar promises in the past. The Liberals also have a troubling history of supporting privatization, from the creation of the P3-based Canada Infrastructure Bank to its unwillingness to enforce the Canada Health Act with respect to user fees and private blood and plasma collection. Increases to health funding, postsecondary grants, free legal aid to survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence, and modest improvements to Old Age Security and CPP survivor benefits are small steps in the right direction.
- NDP: The NDP is promising to improve our universal health care system by instituting universal Pharmacare, dental care for families earning less than $70,000 a year, and by enforcing the Canada Health Act in order to reduce health care privatization and user fees. Also impressive is its pledge to invest $10 billion to create 500,000 new child care spaces over next four years. Reducing student debt, increasing legal aid funding, creating a national autism strategy, and restoring door-to-door mail service are all good, if small, steps.
Climate change is real, and it is doing real damage, especially to those who are most vulnerable. The environment can no longer be seen as an issue on its own, but as an issue that pervades all others.
- Conservatives: Although the Conservatives’ environmental plan boasts that it was Stephen Harper who committed to the Paris Agreement targets, it offers no concrete commitment on reaching those targets. Despite widespread economic consensus that carbon taxes work, the Conservatives are promising to eliminate them and replace them with a series of corporate and personal tax cut incentives that will simply put more financial pressure on our public services.
- Greens: A Green government will pass into law a Climate Change Act requiring a 60 per cent cut in climatechanging emissions below 2005 levels by 2030, reaching net zero in 2050. Interim targets would be set at five-year intervals beginning with 2025. The Greens also pledge to ban the import of foreign oil, invest in green infrastructure, and direct the CPP to divest from all coal, oil, and gas companies.
- Liberals: The Liberals make strong statements about the environment, but their actions send mixed messages. During their previous term in office, they fell behind greenhouse gas emission targets they’d initially decried as too timid. Purchasing a pipeline and failing to reduce subsidies to oil and gas companies are also revealing. But the party is still committed to achieving “net-zero” emissions by 2050, partially by planting 2 billion trees.
- NDP: The NDP is pledging to create at least 300,000 “green jobs” as it moves towards its targets of “netzero” emissions by 2030 and zero emissions by 2050. It will end subsidies to oil and gas companies and create an independent “Climate Accountability Office” to audit progress.