Bloc Québécois Calls for Extended Sickness Benefit
Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet was in Quebec City on Wednesday calling on the federal government to increase the Employment Insurance Sickness Benefit from 15 to 50 weeks for the seriously ill. In a statement, the Bloc Québécois leader said "We cannot, as a society, abandon the most seriously ill...Those who suffer from an illness such as cancer often need much more than 15 weeks to heal and then return to work." The current government's Bill C-30, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 19, 2021 and other measures, committed to extend the Employment Insurance Sickness Benefit from 15 to 26 weeks, but the election was called before this measure could take effect.
Paul Outlines Elements Required for Pandemic Response
Green Party leader Annamie Paul was in Toronto Centre on Wednesday discussing the key elements required for a successful pandemic response. Specifically, Paul highlighted the need for increased domestic capacity to manufacture pharmaceuticals; ensuring an adequate stockpile of personal protective equipment; increasing domestic food security; and tackling climate change. Paul also called for the federal government to strike an intergovernmental task force to coordinate Canada's pandemic responses.
Trudeau Pledges to Raise Taxes on Banks and Insurance Companies by Three Percentage Points
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau returned to British Columbia for the second week of the election campaign, announcing that a re-elected Liberal government would increase the corporate tax rate on banks and insurance companies by three percentage points (from the current 15% to 18%) on all earnings over $1 billion. The Prime Minister prefaced his announcement by noting that while the pandemic has been hard on Canadians, financial institutions have been posting "massive" profits. According to a Liberal backgrounder, the government will develop "targeted anti-avoidance rules" to prevent banks and insurance companies from profit-shifting, and enhance the powers of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to ensure additional costs are not passed on to consumers.
The Liberal leader also announced that, if re-elected, he would establish the "Canada Recovery Dividend," to be paid by financial institutions. While the details of the dividend are not clear, the Liberal Party projects that both the tax and dividend will generate $2.5 billion per year over the next four years starting in 2022-23. As part of the announcement, the Liberal Party also committed to implement the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Open Banking by "early 2023."
Singh Promises to Take on 'Big Telco'
The pandemic highlighted the central importance of mobile and internet connectivity, Jagmeet Singh said while announcing his intention to 'take on' Canada's telecommunications companies. Speaking from Windsor, the New Democratic Party leader said his party would cap Canadian cell phone and internet bills at the OECD average, and mandate "truly unlimited" data plans. According to the New Democratic Party's media release, the changes would save the average family $1000 per year. "We're going to take on the big telco, and say, 'you've got to stop gouging people, and the rates have got to be more affordable'," Singh said.
O'Toole Outlines Plan to 'Secure Mental Health'
Conservative leader Erin O'Toole was in Brantford on Wednesday outlining his party's Mental Health Action Plan. In addition to doubling federal health transfers to provinces -- from 3% to at least 6% annually -- O'Toole said a Conservative government would secure mental health by:
- Incentivizing employers to add mental health coverage to employee benefits by creating a tax credit for 25% of the cost of mental health coverage for the first three years;
- Providing $150 million over three years in grants to nonprofits and charities delivering mental health programming; and
- Investing $1 billion over five years to boost funding for Indigenous mental health and drug treatment programs.
O'Toole also said the Conservatives would create nationwide three-digit suicide prevention hotline - similar to 9-1-1. "The mental health crisis is the epidemic within the COVID-19-pandemic," O'Toole stated in his media availability. "We need to treat mental health as health." 'Securing mental health,' has been a key pillar of the Conservative Party's 'Secure the Future' strategy since it was first announced at the party's 2021 convention.
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