Leaked document reveals PC government’s plan to privatize health services: NDP

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The Ontario NDP says it obtained a leaked internal document Wednesday night that shows the PC government is aiming to privatize health services, including hospitals and family doctors.

The draft bill reveals a plan to dissolve Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and create a “super agency” with a mandate to privatize, according to the NDP.

“While the Ford government is publicly pretending to consult on health care, in the back room, legislation designed to privatize our health care system is already being drawn up,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said at Queen’s Park Thursday.

“We’ve obtained internal documents, including a complete piece of government legislation that lays out the Ford government’s plan to create a new … super agency with a specific mandate to privatize our health services.”

Richard Southern

@richard680news

– NDP leader Andrea Horwath says leaked Ford Government health care bill opens door to privatization of hospitals. Watch.

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‘Super-wealth tax’ to raise $5.6B in 1st year, Singh says during Hamilton NDP event

The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates it would raise around $70 billion over 10 years


Jagmeet Singh met with residents at a Hamilton east end home and revealed more details about the NDP’s proposal of a “super-wealth tax.” (Martin Trainor)

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh says a tax on the super rich would raise $5.6 billion that could be invested in health care and housing.

He spoke about the “super-wealth tax” and the funds it would raise Tuesday at a “kitchen table” event at an east end Hamilton home.

He said the Parliamentary Budget Officer crunched the numbers to estimate that the super-wealth tax would raise $5.6 billion in the 2020 – 2021 year, and anticipates that it would grow to around $9.5 billion by 2028 – 2029. Over 10 years, it estimated that this tax will raise almost $70 billion.

“If we put this super-wealth tax in place, we can raise the funds to put in place that medication coverage for all, we can invest in housing to make sure it’s affordable, we can make people the priority,” Singh said.

The super-wealth tax would include a one per cent tax on Canadians with fortunes over $20 million. It would be applied annually and include real estate, luxury items, and investments.

Singh said that this would apply to around one tenth of one per cent of Canadians.  MORE

 

NDP promises free dental care for households making under $70K starting in 2020

ILO celebrates 100 years of fighting for fair labour practices

Members of the Union for Hospitality workers Local 75 walk in Toronto’s annual Labour Day Parade on Sept. 3 last year. The International Labour Organization, 100 years old this year, continues to fight globally for social justice and an inclusive future for work, Adelle Blackett writes.

A good anniversary should not go to waste. Yet how many Canadians know, in this moment of inequality and discontent, that we helped found a century-old international organization whose constitution proclaims that “universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social justice?”

Established under the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, the International Labour Organization outlived the beleaguered League of Nations to become the first United Nations specialized agency. Its staff barely escaped the rise of fascism in Europe, settling into a wartime home at McGill University from 1940–1948.

At McGill, the ILO prepared its post-war future, anticipating decolonization. It drafted the 1944 constitutional text, the Declaration of Philadelphia, declaring that “Labour is not a commodity;” “Freedom of expression and of association are essential to sustained progress;” “Poverty anywhere constitutes a danger to prosperity everywhere;” and “All human beings, irrespective of race, creed or sex, have the right to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity.”

Beyond adopting paper standards, the ILO has assumed an active yet largely forgotten role in democratization, including ending political apartheid in South Africa. It insists on playing a role in international economic policy-making, calling for a fair globalization. On its 50th anniversary in 1969, it won the Nobel Peace Prize for its relentless social justice action.

The ILO has realized that this centennial moment is too weighty to wrap itself in self-congratulation: it has emphasized the need for an inclusive future of work. Canadian celebrations have picked up on this theme. MORE

Federal party leaders focus on wooing union heartland on Labour Day

Riding of Hamilton Centre expected to be closely fought between the NDP, Liberals this fall election


NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, left, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, centre, and Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were scheduled to be in Hamilton on Labour Day. (Canadian Press)

Wooing workers in Canada’s union heartland was the focus for federal party leaders this Labour Day, with Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh all in Hamilton, Ont.

Trudeau participated in the annual Labour Day parade there, Singh was to catch up with the participants at the annual Labour Day picnic, and Scheer was expected at the Labour Day classic football game between the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger Cats.

Hamilton has a long-standing connection to Canada’s union movement as the historic epicentre of the steel industry and related businesses. It was there in the 1870s that workers first agitated for the government to legislate shorter work days, an effort that eventually led to the first national union, albeit a short lived one.

Hamilton is also home to five federal ridings: the Liberals hold two, the NDP two and the Conservatives one, with the vote bouncing between all three parties in recent elections.

The riding of Hamilton Centre is expected to be closely fought between the NDP and the Liberals this election. David Christopherson, the NDP MP who has represented the area for over a decade, has retired, leaving his seat vulnerable.

Meanwhile, the NDP are hoping to take the riding of Hamilton East-Stoney Creek away from the Liberals by counting on support from steelworkers who have complained about their treatment at the hands of the current local Liberal MP.

NDP pitching to union workers

Singh made a pitch to union workers Monday, promising that if his party forms government, they’d bring in legislation to end the ability of companies to replace striking workers with temporary employment. He also promised to immediately raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and ensure better protections for contract workers.

“This is what you get when you get a New Democrat,” Singh said during an event Monday morning in Toronto before he headed to Hamilton. “You get someone on your side.”

Singh was joining Labour Day events in Hamilton at the invitation of the local labour council, while Trudeau was invited by the local chapter of the Labourers International Union of North America, which represents construction workers, among other industries. MORE

The Maclean’s / Citytv National Leaders Debate 2019

On Thursday, Sept. 12, Maclean’s and Citytv are hosting the first leaders debate of the election calendar, moderated by Paul Wells
Maclean’s and Citytv are hosting the first National Leaders Debate of the 2019 election calendar, to take place on Thursday, Sept. 12 starting at 8 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. PDT). 

The two-hour debate in English will centre on four major themes: the economy, foreign policy, Indigenous issues and, lastly, energy and the environment. After the main segment of exchanges, each leader will have 90 seconds for a closing statement.

The event will take place in Toronto while airing live on CitytvMacleans.ca and Facebook, as well as on Rogers news radio stations and their websites and CityNews websites. CPAC will carry the debate with a French translation, while OMNI Television will carry it with interpretation into Mandarin and Cantonese (in broadcast) and Punjabi (online).

“We are continuing our tradition of early debates after the 2015 federal leaders’ debate ignited a cross-country conversation and set the agenda for election day,” says Maclean’s editor-in-chief Alison Uncles. “We are looking forward to a civil, spirited discussion of ideas, moderated by the extraordinary Paul Wells.”

The leaders of the Conservative Party, the Green Party and the NDP have confirmed their attendance. The Liberals have not yet confirmed Justin Trudeau’s participation but an invitation remains open and the debate will go forward regardless. MORE

Pipeline fight is not over, and Canadians everywhere have a stake


A shot of Fort McMurray, Alberta in 2012. Photo by Kris Krüg from Flickr

The Trudeau government and the petrobloc (the fossil fuel industries and their political, financial and media allies) would like you to believe that the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline (TMX), intended to triple the flow of diluted bitumen from the Athabasca Sands to the port of Vancouver, is a done deal.

But the latest approval of TMX by the Trudeau government and the industry-friendly National Energy Board does not settle the issue.

There are significant legal challenges from six major First Nations whose territories include much of the proposed pipeline route through B.C. Ecojustice is litigating in the Federal Court of Appeal to defend the critically endangered southern resident orcas. The B.C. government is taking its case for jurisdiction over the transport of diluted bitumen within B.C. to the Supreme Court.

The Indigenous-led, grassroots place-based resistance that encouraged the Texas-based multinational Kinder Morgan (founded by two former Enron executives) to walk away from the project, is re-emerging, after the construction delay imposed by the Federal Court of Appeal in August 2018.

And the federal election in October could give the balance of power to two parties – Greens and New Democrats – which are opposed to the pipeline.

Now, a new front has opened up: a national campaign to halt fossil fuel subsidies on which projects like TMX depend.

B.C. residents in the sacrifice zones of the pipeline project know of its local, regional and global environmental risks, from tank farm fires, pipeline rupture, oil tanker spills and orca deaths, to intensified planetary heating. These concerns didn’t always resonate with Canadians elsewhere, facing economic insecurity and public service cutbacks.

But the federal government’s 2018 purchase of the pipeline has added an enormous new risk to Canadian taxpayers. While the petrobloc touts TMX as a route to economic prosperity, taxpayers may see more pain than gain.

Buying the pipeline alone cost taxpayers $4.4 billion, far more than analysts said it was worth, with a further nine to 12 billion dollars needed for expanding its capacity, locking Canada further into planet-heating infrastructure while creating far fewer permanent jobs than investment in renewable energy.

Independent analysts like Andrew Nikiforuk and J. David Hughes argue that optimistic pro-pipeline estimates of Asian demand for Canadian bitumen downplay such factors as escalating construction costs, the completion of two other pipelines by 2022, high transportation costs, alternative supply sources and lower-quality product.

“Trans Mountain has been losing money since Ottawa overpaid for it, leaving taxpayers on the hook,” economist Robyn Allan told me. “Revenues from tolls on the existing line are insufficient to cover all the interest expense or any of the principal amount the government borrowed to finance the acquisition of the 66-year-old pipeline. Billions more in taxpayer-funded subsidies will be required to finance the expansion since shipper tolls will not cover the cost of building it.”

This is why Kinder Morgan walked away: capital costs were too high and Trans Mountain’s expansion ceased to be commercially viable. Any reasonable cost-benefit analysis reveals that there are no net economic benefits from the expansion, either, and the obvious environmental costs are staggering.”

So why did the feds bail out such a toxic investment?

A senior researcher at Alberta’s Parkland Institute told me that TMX has become a political symbol. Serious climate action means ending fossil fuel subsidies (as Trudeau promised in 2015) and investing directly in sustainable energy and infrastructure.

Yet Canadian governments continue to pour about $3.3 billion annually (according to the International Institute of Sustainable Development) into direct support for an industry whose business model entails knowingly jeopardizing the habitability of the planet. That amount would fund job retraining for 330,000 workers, including in greener industries with potential for exporting technology and energy. MORE

Canada’s ‘Green New Deal’ could change the game ahead of the elections


Jagmeet Singh in Toronto on Sept. 7, 2018. (Brian de Rivera Simon/Getty Images for eOne)

The Green New Deal, a plan to decarbonize the economy while ushering in a greater level of social and economic justice, has become a key policy debate in the United States, with major segments of the Democratic Party, including some presidential candidates, endorsing the plan to varying degrees. The goal of the plan isn’t just to cut fossil fuel consumption but also to do so while investing in jobs, education, infrastructure, health care and a wide array of programs designed to challenge the status quo.

In Canada, the GND has sparked great interest among progressives, who are looking for a plan that will help avoid climate catastrophe while not leaving behind the working class and marginalized populations. A few years ago, a document called the Leap Manifesto was drafted by a group of Canadian environmentalists. Though it had some of the elements of current progressive plans, it failed to capture the national imagination and was viewed as insufficiently concerned with reforms beyond decarbonization.

But things are different now. Today, the youth, both around the world and in Canada, have made climate justice a prevailing issue. Climate science, too, has made it ever clearer just how short a window we have to reduce our carbon footprint. And, crucially, the GND has offered Canadians framing and language that are more acceptable than those of the Leap.

Canada’s political outlook is also different than it was a couple years ago. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals — who ran on an aura of progressivism — have left many environmental activists disappointed by missing emission targets and buying a multibillion-dollar pipeline. In part because of this, the Green Party is polling at unprecedented numbers and recently won a second seat in the House of Commons for the first time in party history, with projections giving them a few more in October’s general election. In this context, it is clear that green issues are motivating voters like never before.

This is where Jagmeet Singh and his New Democratic Party come in. Canada’s party of the social democratic left is polling below its 2015 election results and, while still poised to finish with the third-most seats in Parliament, is seeing the Greens polling closer than ever before. Not to be outdone, the NDP has released a bold plan that would act as a GND for Canada.

Not only does it commit to green objectives such ending fossil fuel subsidies, setting emissions targets, banning single-use plastics and incentivizing electric vehicles, but it also commits to a national retrofitting program that will affect all housing stock in Canada by 2050 and will help create an estimated 300,000 jobs. The plan also includes working with municipalities to build free electric public transit by 2030.  MORE

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