A New Democratic vision, a time for action
April 18, 2016
This past week the Nova Scotia NDP caucus and I announced our priorities for this spring’s legislative session. Our proposals include measures that would reduce income inequality, defend and strengthen health care services, and prioritize substantial progress in the protection of our environment.
We do not, of course, expect a Liberal government that has utterly failed to grasp the economics of the film and television industry to understand the significance of our priorities. We will advance these proposals to distinguish our vision from that of the two conservative parties–and to show Nova Scotians a path toward a more egalitarian future.
Some highlights of our plan include:
- Legislation to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour;
- A Grocery Security Act to ensure Nova Scotians can access their food at a grocery store or farmers’ market, not at a food bank;
- Examining the possibility of a Basic Income Guarantee;
- Protection of Seniors’ Pharmacare;
- Opposing the use of public-private partnerships (P3s) for health care infrastructure (particularly the new VG hospital); and
- Introducing an Environmental Bill of Rights.
We could not be prouder of these proposals; they are an expression of our New Democratic values which place people and the environment at the centre of public decision-making.
Recently we have encountered a chorus of skepticism to the tune of “How are you going to pay for that?”
Such a worn-out refrain.
This is far from the first time in history that people have thought to address the problems of economic stagnation and inequality with bold stimulus initiatives. Deficits, at times, must be sustained. New sources of revenue must be sought–particularly by closing tax loopholes and restoring corporate taxes.
It will be important–and this is the NDP’s habit–to take a long-term view. Social investments do not typically pay themselves off financially within an election cycle.
At the recent federal NDP convention in Edmonton, a comment made by Indigenous leader Cindy Blackstock really stood out to me. She pointed out the urgency of improving the lives of Indigenous children by poignantly reminding us that “children do not have incremental childhoods.” This is every bit as true for children who grow up in poverty–children cannot afford to wait twenty or thirty years for governments to get on board with making their lives better.
Nor can minimum wage workers and their families wait while their pay increases in step with the cost of living. Nor can Indigenous communities wait decades for the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to be implemented. Nor can Cape Bretoners, like the many I met with this weekend, wait for real economic development opportunities.
Rather than waiting, isn’t it time for us to decisively begin implementing real poverty reduction measures, the health care system we need, and environmental protection with some teeth?
In the weeks ahead you will be hearing more from me and from my caucus colleagues about our NDP vision for Nova Scotia. I look forward to our continuing conversations as we move forward.
In solidarity and hope,