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Posts Tagged "CTV Politics"

8Oct

Low-income Canadians struggling to pay for medications plead for pharmacare

by admin

TORONTO — Three of the major federal parties have promised they’ll introduce universal pharmacare if elected. While the details and costs of their plans differ, coverage of drug prescriptions would help the almost one million low-income Canadians who are struggling to pay for prescription medication, with some going without food and heat to pay for drugs, according to a recent study. 

Vulnerable Canadians, including contract workers and people without private health insurance, are struggling to pay for meds for common conditions like diabetes, asthma, cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Around 20 per cent of Canadians have inadequate drug coverage or no coverage at all, and must pay out of pocket.

Another study found that one in five households reported a family member who, in the past year, had not taken a prescribed medicine due to its cost.

The Liberals have said they will implement a program to ensure “prescription drugs are more affordable and more accessible to more Canadians,” according to their website. The NDP have said their plan will make sure every Canadian can fill their prescription and will save families more than $500 a year.

The Green Party said they would support the expansion of the Canada Health Act to include prescription drugs dispensed at pharmacies.

Canadians struggle to pay for prescription drugs

Contract worker Natalie Brown, 33 and from Nova Scotia, is one of those struggling to afford her drugs. Chronically ill with a variety of health problems including severe asthma and diabetes, she has no private health insurance or union protection.

Now on disability, her government plan covers some medications but won’t pay for seven others that she’s been prescribed, leaving her with a medical bill for between $200 and $700 a month.

Sometimes she’s forced to choose between staying warm or staying on her meds.

“I will have months where utilities are almost cut off, because I had to pay for my medications,” she said.

“I feel devastated. I worked for the government in the wellness department…and I had the head of the department say ‘you don’t look sick.’”

Brown is among those patients hoping for the introduction of a national pharmacare scheme, a federal system that will cover all essential medications.  

“It would make more sense to have a national program to protect all Canadians equally,” she said.

Patient advocate Bill Swan from Hubley, Nova Scotia, has created the “Faces of Pharmacare” website to highlight the plight of those like Brown.

Swan, who has suffered asthma since childhood and has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with about 60 per cent lung function, has also struggled to afford his medications, often ending up in the emergency room.

He is now on a private plan through a professional association, but still pays over $3,000 for his medication.

“It should have been done 50 years ago, so the next best time is now,” he told CTV News.

“There is a massive untold story. There are so many affected by this and don’t get their story out.”

“During the election we are seeing the talk is just talk, and that is what I am doing with my website… we need to get beyond the positioning…and look at why this is good for all Canadians.”

Studies also show that for people with diabetes, heart disease and chronic respiratory problems alone, universal pharmacare would result in 220,000 fewer emergency room visits and 90,000 fewer hospital stays every year.

One-third of working Canadians don’t have drug benefits provided by their employer and most work-based plans don’t cover the full cost of medicine.

University of British Columbia researcher Steve Morgan, who studied pharmacare, is unsure of the prospects for pharmacare post-federal election.

“Canadian voters need to realize that this is a nearly once in a life time opportunity to improve the quality and comprehensiveness of the Canadian health care system,” he said.

“It’s tempting to say we are going to get a national pharmacare system…it depends on voters, but not just parties….but to ask candidates, ask their parties, are you committed.

“Studies are showing that people who don’t take their medications, often end up sicker and in hospital… far more expensive than the prevention they are prescribed.”

With files from CTVNews.ca writer Mariam Matti

29Sep

Liberals promise billions in new spending in 2019 election platform

by admin

OTTAWA – The Liberal party has released its costed 2019 platform, and it includes promises of billions in new spending for students, families, and the environment, continuing their so-called economic approach of “investing in Canadians,” while targeting corporations and the wealthiest Canadians to help pay for these proposals.

The platform titled “Forward a real plan for the middle class” spans 85 pages and includes chapters on the middle class and jobs, the environment, social and cultural programs, Indigenous commitments, parliamentary reforms, as well as pledges focused on international and domestic trade, justice, and security. Sprinkled throughout are photos of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and his candidates.

The document is a mix of already-announced campaign promises, and new ideas that they’d yet to announce, alongside a costing analysis done by the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) of 22 key pieces.

Central to what the Liberals are promising to deliver should they be re-elected on Oct. 21 is a boost to the Canada Child Benefit, relief for student debtors, new taxes on the rich, and new regulations for multinational tech giants.

In total, the Liberals estimate that the new commitments they’re making would cost $9.3 billion in 2020-21 and rise each year following, but would also bring in just over $5.2 billion in new revenue in 2020-21 also rising over time. This would leave Canadians with an additional $4.1 billion added on to the deficit in the first year, which the Liberals project would be at $27.4 billion in 2020-21, with no time frame for getting back to balance. Based on today’s platform, a re-elected Liberal government would run another four years of deficits, but the party points to the continued decrease of Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio as a more favorable figure.

“Our economy is driven by people. So we will keep investing in Canadians, and doing the things that make it better for the middle class,” said Liberal incumbent candidate and co-chair of the national platform committee Ralph Goodale during a press conference with reporters who received the platform under embargo in Ottawa. “Over the last four years we’ve seen what happens when you put people first,” he said.

In a statement sent ahead of the Liberal plan being publicly released, the Conservative Party—which has released the costing for certain pieces of its plan but not yet for the entire package—said that these Liberal promises are “not worth the wasted ink and paper it’s printed on.”

Relief for the middle class

The first chapter of the platform is focused on the middle class, and measures the Liberals say will make life more affordable for those within that income range.

Early days in this campaign the Liberals promised to increase their Canada Child Benefit program by 15 per cent for children under one; exempting parental and maternity leave employment insurance benefits from tax; and extending those benefits to adoptive parents.

According to the PBO, this suite of measures would cost $777 million in 2020-21, rising to just under $1.2 billion by 2023-24.

The Liberals have also promised to make the first $15,000 of income tax-free for Canadians earning $147,000 a year or less, which the Liberals say will help lift another 40,000 people out of poverty. Billed as helping more people keep what they earn, it’s projected to cost $2.9 billion in 2020-21.

A promise to increase Old Age Security by 10 per cent for seniors once they turn 75 would cost $1.6 billion in 2020-21, rising to $2.6 billion in 2023-24. The Liberals would also increase the CPP survivors benefit by 25 per cent.

And for families who qualify for the Canada Child Disability Benefit, it would double from $2,832 to $5,664 for each child, estimated to cost $391 million in 2020-21.

There are also new or expanded measures for first-time home buyers; initiatives and measures for entrepreneurs and small business owners; more accessible and affordable childcare; strengthening public health care; increasing EI sickness benefits from 15 to 26 weeks at a cost of $306 million in 2020-21; and implementing a new EI career insurance benefit.

The Liberals are also promising a variety of other middle-class targeted initiatives, but not all were costed by the PBO. One of the biggest commitments left un-costed was the Liberal’s plan to move towards a universal pharmacare system.

Throughout the platform the Liberals stack up their commitments to those by the Conservatives, noting the differences between what each party is offering.

Trudeau spoke about the costed platform at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus.

“Under a Conservative government, a person making $400,000 a year would benefit more than a person making $40,000 with their tax cuts,” said Trudeau on Sunday.

Help for student debt

As CTV News reported Saturday, the platform also includes measures aimed at students and Canadians who still have student debt. All these commitments are promised to come into effect in 2020-2021, and apply to new graduates and people already paying off student loans.

These measures include:

  • Allowing new parents to put their student loans on hold by giving them an interest-free break from paying off their loans until their youngest child turns five years old.
  • Extending the grace period on payments after graduation from six months to two years, and even after that time only will people have to make payments once they are earning at least $35,000 per year after graduation.
  • Increasing student grants under the Canada Students Loans and Grants program by $1,200, to reach $4,200 per year.

According to the PBO’s assessment of the post-secondary measures, it would cost $172 million in the first year, rising to just over $1 billion by 2023-24. The Liberals estimate up to 470,000 students could benefit.

In Ontario, Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford has reversed previous student assistance measures and it appears the Liberals are looking to make a direct appeal to those impacted by that and other provincial cuts.

“Conservative provincial governments are trying to balance the budget on the backs of families and students, all while the cost of tuition keeps going up,” said Trudeau.

“Cuts to education. To healthcare. To environmental protection. We can’t afford to double down on the Conservatives, not here in Mississauga, not across Ontario, not anywhere in Canada,” he said.

Corporate and tech crackdown, luxury tax

In an effort to help generate new revenue and crack down on corporate tax evasion, the Liberals would introduce new tax measures that’ll hit wealthy Canadians and are promising regulations for multinational tech companies.

The Liberals would impose a 10 per cent luxury goods sales tax applied at point of sale, for purchases of personal cars, boats, and aircraft that are valued at $100,000 or more. This, according to the PBO, will bring in $585 million in 2020-21, rising to $622 million in 2023-24.

And, changes would come to corporate taxation under a re-elected Liberal government. They would review current policies to ensure the wealthy aren’t benefitting unfairly, and target tax avoidance and corporate tax loopholes. The PBO has estimated that the corporate tax crackdown could bring in $459 million in the current 2019-20 fiscal year, and would raise $1.7 billion in 2020-21.

The Liberals had already said they’d impose a one per cent tax on properties owned in Canada, by non-Canadians and non-residents, to limit housing speculation. The PBO estimates this would bring in $217 million in revenue in 2020-21, rising to $256 million by 2023-24.

Another major aspect of this is a new effort the Liberals are billing as “making multinational tech giants pay their fair share.” What this entails is a new three per cent tax on the income of businesses in the digital economy sector. It would come into effect on April 1, 2020 and target advertising and digital companies like Google or Amazon, with worldwide revenues of at least $1 billion and Canadian revenues of more than $40 million.

The Liberals estimate this would bring in $540 million in 2020-21, rising to $730 million by 2023-32.

As well the Liberals are promising to impose new privacy measures on large digital companies like Facebook, because they hold massive troves of Canadians’ personal data. The Liberals would install a new set of online rights for people to be able to erase their data from platforms, know who has access to it and how it’s being used, standards for reporting and compensation when data breaches occur, and force companies to report to a national advertising registry. All of this they say, would be part of the job for a new Data Commissioner.

Some climate measures costed

The platform document lays out the Liberals promised next steps to tackle climate change, including the promise to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. This broad commitment doesn’t have a price tag attached but would include five-year goals decided on with help from experts, and new supports for those who will be impacted by the transition.

The carbon tax regime would remain, but no new information on the price per tonne it would reach in coming years.

The environmental measures that the PBO costed include the promise of interest-free loans for environmental retrofits, and grants for zero-emission homes, which the PBO pegs at costing $300 million in 2020-21, up to $411 million by 2023-24.

As well, the promise to cut the tax rate for companies that produce zero emission technology like electric cars or batteries in half would cost $14 million in 2020-21, according to the Liberal platform.

And, the Liberals estimate that once fully completed—something they say is still three years away— the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion would generate $500 million in revenue, which the Liberals would put back into clean energy projects and climate change solutions.

Gun control, victim supports

As part of the broad promise to make Canadian streets safer, the Liberals have already said they’d ban all military-style assault rifles, create a buy-back program for legally-purchased assault rifles and allow provinces and municipalities to beef up their bans or restrictions further if desired.

In the costed platform the Liberals are earmarking an additional $50 million a year to help cities crack down on gun and gang crime.

Other justice-related measures pledged that include costing are:

  • Hiring and retaining 425 Crown prosecutors and 225 judges, the cost of which will be split between the federal government and promises;
  • Hiring and retaining an additional 100 RCMP officers; and
  • Providing sexual assault and domestic violence survivors free legal representation for application hearings, another cost to be split with the provinces.

According to the PBO this trio of measures will cost $122 million in 2020-21

Relatedly the Liberals are also promising to make it mandatory that all judges in Canada take sexual assault law training, which was an initiative from former interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose that was thwarted in the Senate. This chapter also has promises for drug treatments, elder abuse, and targeted at first responders.

Immigration:

The 2015 federal election was largely centred on accepting refugees and contrasting the parties’ immigration policies, this time around the proposals from the Liberals are limited.

They include a promise to eliminate the processing and right of citizenship fees for new applicants. The PBO says this will have a limited cost, estimated at $75 million in 2020-21, rising to $110 million by 2023-24.

The Liberals say they will “move forward with modest and responsible increases to immigration,” focusing on welcoming highly skilled immigrants. And a re-elected Liberal government would also continue talks with the United States about updating the Safe Third Country agreement, which some believe has resulted in the influx of irregular border crossings into Canada from the U.S.

Equality-focused commitments

  • The plan also includes many social policy and equality-centered commitments that don’t have dollar signs attached, such as:
  • Appointing another gender-balanced cabinet and improve federal diversity in appointments;
  • Protecting abortion rights and improving how women are treated in the health care sector more broadly;
  • Making it so people are “free from discrimination online, including bias and harassment”;
  • Re-stating the not-met commitment to completely end the current 3-month blood donation ban for men who have sex with men;
  • Amending the Criminal Code to ban the practice of conversion therapy that targets LGBTQ people;
  • Study extremism like racism, anti-Semitism, and white supremacy and attempt to combat radicalization; and
  • Establishing the Canadian Centre for Peace, Order, and Good Government, along with other supports for similar international institutions.

Parliamentary reform

While there is zero mention of reviving the now long-broken promise of electoral reform, the Liberals are looking to make a handful of tweaks to the parliamentary system, should they be re-elected. These include:

  • More time for private members’ bills to be dealt with in the House of Commons;
  • New technology to connect constituents with their MPs, without specifics;
  • Eliminating whip and party lists to give the Speaker more freedom in picking who to let in on debates;
  • More resources for parliamentary committees;
  • Upholding the Independent Senate; and
  • Implementing the Anne McLellan-issued recommendations around role and structure of the minister of justice position.
26Sep

B.C. family of 5 living out of van draws attention at NDP campaign stop

by admin

CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. — For the past five months, 69-year-old Betty Nicolaye and her family of five have been on a desperate search for housing that has turned empty every time.

“Houses are selling like hot cakes around here,” she said Thursday after an NDP campaign announcement in Campbell River, B.C.  “One application after another, they keep telling us there are 80 people on the list and we never get any calls.”

In April, Nicolaye’s home of five years was sold and since then, she has applied to dozens of rental units but nothing has worked out.

She and her husband are on a pension, her one son has a disability and two others work as janitors. Together they can barely afford a five-bedroom home, which costs approximately $3,000 a month, but Nicolaye said the properties just aren’t available.

“It’s not good. It’s hard, but it’s harder being the mom because you are trying to be the tough person,” she said.

According to the latest census, the median income in Nicolaye’s home riding of North-Island-Powell River is $32,254, below the national average of $34,204. The average rent, according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, is pegged at $833 a month.

Knowing she was facing an uphill battle for housing —  the toughest she’s experienced after 30 years in Campbell River — Nicolaye bought a “beat up motorhome” to provide temporary shelter for her kids, while she and her husband live in a tent. The family pays a dollar each for a shower at a nearby gas station and right now Nicolaye says they are currently living out of their van. 

“It’s been rough,” she said. “Now it’s so cold that you wake up in your bed and the blankets are wet, you don’t feel warm.”

Nicolaye is not alone in her unsuccessful search for housing in British Columbia. A lack of affordable homes and rental properties has been an issue in the province for years.

At an announcement in Campbell River Thursday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh re-committed to building 500,000 affordable homes within 10 years. He also pledged up to $5,000 in annual funding for roughly 500,000 households who are spending at least 30 per cent of their pre-tax income on rent.

“This will make the difference for families that are unable to pay their bills, for families that are making a tough choice between do they pay for their groceries or do they pay rent,” Singh said.

 “These are difficult choices that families are making — far too difficult for far too many families — and we’ll put an end to that.”

Nicolaye was at that announcement and said the party’s pledge would help people like her as long as more properties hit the market. She said she was not brought to the event by the party, but was encouraged to attend by a local Indigenous group.

“I don’t know how anyone can hear that story and not be heartbroken,” Singh told reporters travelling on his campaign bus after meeting her. “I think about her and I think that’s why we need to tackle housing and why we need to build half a million new houses but also why we need to do something immediately because for her, we couldn’t afford to wait.”

A report from the parliamentary budget officer said the current national housing strategy, introduced by the Liberals, would build 150,000 new affordable units, modernize 300,000 existing units and protect 385,000 community housing units.

With files from The Canadian Press

11Sep

338 ridings, 40 days, 1 vote: Election kicks off today

by admin

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will ask Gov. Gen. Julie Payette to dissolve the 42nd Parliament at 10 a.m. this morning, setting in motion Canada’s 43rd federal election campaign.

  • Watch LIVE @ 9 ET on CTVNews.ca and CTV News Channel: Lisa LaFlamme leads special coverage as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to launch the 2019 federal election campaign

It will be a 40-day race to the ballot box, with all party leaders crisscrossing the country in an effort to pitch themselves, their candidates, and their platforms to Canadians, before election day on Oct. 21.

Following the formalities of ending a Parliament and launching a federal election campaign with races in all 338 ridings, Trudeau will emerge from Rideau Hall and speak to the media.

There, he’s likely to explain why it is election time and take the first chance to frame what the vote will be about. Trudeau had a deadline of Sept. 15 to call the election under new time limit rules passed since the last election, which kicked off four years, one month, and nine days ago.

Before visiting Rideau Hall, Trudeau joined his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau in walking their three children to school.

Trudeau is then departing for Vancouver, the same city he was in for the 2015 kickoff that resulted in his historic majority victory.

The main opposition party leaders will also address the media from strategically selected locations across the country where they will respond to the election call, and offer their first real campaign messages.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will kick off his first federal election at the helm of his party from Trois-Rivieres, Que. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who is also embarking on his first campaign on the federal stage will deliver his response to the election writs being issued from London, Ont.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May will speak from her home territory of Victoria, where she’s looking to make big electoral gains; Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet will mark his party’s official campaign kickoff for more seats in the province, from Quebec City. People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier is beginning the first-ever federal election for his team, from the Toronto area.

Pre-campaign summer posturing

While the official campaign will last just over five weeks, the political positioning for votes has been underway all summer long. Parties have been ramping up their war rooms, testing out partisan attack lines, and unveiling campaign ads and slogans.

With the formal launch, expect the battling for votes to ramp up, more partisan mudslinging, contenders across the country knocking on doors and debating, as well as a daily offering of new platform proposals and policy ideas for Canadians to weigh when deciding who they’ll cast their ballot for.

New elections law, spending rules

Since the 2015 campaign there have been changes to the federal elections law. From new limits on third-party and foreign participation, to new measures aimed at boosting accessibility and voter participation.

There are also new campaign spending limits. Over the election, each registered party can spend approximately $28.1 million, while individual candidates can spend on average $110,000, but it varies depending on the riding. That means — should each party run a full slate of candidates — they can spend a combined total of approximately $65 million. Third-party interest groups have a spending cap at just under $512,000.

Party standings as of dissolution

Heading into the campaign the Liberals hold 177 seats, the Conservatives have 95, the NDP hold 39, the Bloc Quebecois have 10, and the Green Party has two seats. The 42nd Parliament also had eight independents as of dissolution. A party needs to win 170 seats for a majority government.

11Sep

338 ridings, 40 days, 1 vote: Election campaign kicks off

by admin

OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau has set in motion the 2019 federal election campaign.

On Wednesday morning, Gov. Gen. Julie Payette accepted his request to dissolve the 42nd Parliament, setting in motion Canada’s 43rd federal race, with campaigns in all 338 ridings.

It will be a 40-day race to the ballot box, with all party leaders crisscrossing the country in an effort to pitch themselves, their candidates, and their platforms to Canadians, before election day on Oct. 21.

Speaking to the media outside of Rideau Hall with a backdrop of Liberal supporters, Trudeau took the first opportunity to frame what the election will be about.

“This fall Canadians once again get to vote for the kind of Canada they want to live in. We’ve all got a choice to make, keep moving forward and build on the progress we’ve made, or go back to the politics of the Harper years,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau had a deadline of Sept. 15 to launch the campaign under new time limit rules passed since the last election, which kicked off four years, one month, and nine days ago.

Before visiting Rideau Hall, Trudeau joined his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau in walking their three children to school.

This afternoon, Trudeau is departing for Vancouver, the same city he was in for the 2015 kickoff that resulted in his historic majority victory.

The main opposition party leaders also will address the media from strategically-selected locations across the country where they will respond to the election call, and offer their first real campaign messages.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will kick off his first federal election at the helm of his party from Trois-Rivieres, Que. Instead of flying directly in, however, fog has forced his plane to fly into Quebec City first, and the campaign will then travel by bus to the rally location. Before boarding his campaign plane in Ottawa ahead of the formal election call, Scheer took aim at Trudeau over the latest development in the SNC-Lavalin scandal. A new report in The Globe and Mail that published on the eve of the election call citing unnamed sources said the government has not lifted cabinet confidentiality for all witnesses, which has limited the RCMP’s examination of potential obstruction of justice in the handling of the Quebec construction and engineering firm’s prosecution.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who is also embarking on his first campaign on the federal stage, will deliver his response to the election writs being issued from London, Ont. where he has already disembarked his campaign bus and was greeted by supporters.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May will speak from her home territory of Victoria, where she’s looking to make big electoral gains; Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet will mark his party’s official campaign kickoff for more seats in the province, from Quebec City. People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier is beginning the first ever federal election for his team, from the Toronto area.   

The latest Nanos Research numbers show that the Liberals have a slight lead heading into the campaign, sitting at 34.6 per cent in the polls. The Conservatives have 30.7, the NDP are at 16.6, Greens are at 11 per cent, the Bloc Quebecois have 4 per cent, and the People’s Party are sitting at 1 per cent.

“We’ve got a tight race. There’s no majority government in sight right now, and it’s anyone’s game,” said pollster Nik Nanos.

Pre-campaign summer posturing

While the official campaign will last just over five weeks, the political positioning for votes has been underway all summer long. Parties have been ramping up their war rooms, testing out partisan attack lines, and unveiling campaign ads and slogans.

With the formal launch, expect the battling for votes to ramp up, more partisan mudslinging, contenders across the country knocking on doors and debating, as well as a daily offering of new platform proposals and policy ideas for Canadians to weigh when deciding who they’ll cast their ballot for.

New elections law, spending rules

Since the 2015 campaign there have been changes to the federal elections law. From new limits on third-party and foreign participation, to new measures aimed at boosting accessibility and voter participation.

There are also new campaign spending limits. Over the election, each registered party can spend approximately $28.1 million, while individual candidates can spend on average $110,000, but it varies depending on the riding. That means — should each party run a full slate of candidates — they can spend a combined total of approximately $65 million. Third-party interest groups have a spending cap at just under $512,000.

Party standings as of dissolution

Heading into the campaign the Liberals hold 177 seats, the Conservatives have 95, the NDP hold 39, the Bloc Quebecois have 10, and the Green Party has two seats. The 42nd Parliament also had eight independents as of dissolution. A party needs to win 170 seats for a majority government.

 

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