Justin Trudeau – What Does He Stand For?
Justin Trudeau was elected as Canada’s 23rd Prime Minister on the 4th November 2015. He graduated from McGill University with an initial ambition to become a school teacher, and now is head of the Liberal Party with ambitions to change the nation. Here we take a look at an overview of his policies in a multitude of areas.
The new fiscal approach is a low debt-to-GDP level and historically low borrowing rates (currently around 2.7% in commercial banks). By 2019/20, the party will:
- Reduce the federal debt-to-GDP ratio to 27 percent (currently 31 percent)
- Balance the budget
Under the Liberal plan, the federal government will have a modest-short term deficit of less than $10 billion in each of the next two fiscal years (Harper averaged over $20 billion deficit a year). Then the deficit will decline in order to return to a balanced budget by 2019/20.
The government now places much emphasis on their planning framework based on more recent figures than the April 2015 ones, in acknowledgement of the recession that Canada is currently facing.
In the photo: Justin Trudeau with Ban Ki-moon and Barack Obama
In terms of employment, Trudeau will take on a skills-improvement approach. For those not working, an additional $500 million will be invested in Labour Market Development Agreements. Moreover, $50 million will be invested to expand the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy. He also wants to improve employment insurance and reduce the waiting period for benefits, so that those losing their jobs will be without income for one week only instead of two.
As for the youth, the party will create 40,000 jobs each year until 2018, through its Youth Employment Strategy. This will be done via an investment of $300 million more in youth employment efforts.
For the employed middle class, Trudeau will lower taxes so that they can save up to $1350 per household a year. To do this, he will be shifting the tax burden so that it weighs more heavily on the top 1%.
In the photo: Trudeau being sworn in as 23rd Prime Minister of Canada
The main step in terms of health is to create a new Health Accord, to be determined through negotiation with provincial and territorial Premiers. Firstly, the party will start with a $3 billion investment over the next four years to improve Canadian health services. Trudeau also aims to encourage health innovation and improve access to medicines, although it is not quite clear how he aims to do this. Furthermore, he wants to introduce a National Disabilities Act to make the system more inclusive for all.
The government also wants to improve health by limiting the market of unhealthy food to children and placing restrictions on quantities of salt and fat in foods. To add to this, Trudeau will require improved food labels so that consumers can better know what composes their food. After all, you are what you eat.
Canada’s new government wants to make education more affordable, especially for low and middle-income families. Student grants will be increased to $3000 a year, and the education budget will be redirected from poorly targeted education tax credits to increase grant assistance by $100 million annually until 2020. An additional $50 million will be invested annually to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program so that indigenous students will have better access to education. As for tertiary education, student loans will not have to be repaid until graduates earn more than $25,000 a year, with the government paying the interest on the loans until the graduates reach this income.
To prevent teachers from paying for education supplies out of their own pockets, Trudeau will introduce a new Teacher and Early Childhood Educator School Supply Tax Benefit.
Finally, the government will set up a Prime Minister’s Youth Advisory Council, where 16 to 24 year-old Canadian representatives will be able to advice Trudeau on what they believe should be done for the country.
In the photo: Justin Trudeau at COP21
At the Paris Climate Conference, the Canadian Prime Minister made sure to say that those born today are not responsible for climate change, but they are the ones that will have to bear the consequences. As a result, the party seems committed to taking action, as seen in the spending figures in the chart below.
The party wants to take on a leadership position in terms of climate change action. They attended COP21 and have several environmentally-engaged projects, including the Pan-Canadian framework for climate change, Low Carbon Economy Trust, and partnerships with the US and Mexico. The first involves combating climate change, the second will direct $2 billion to funding projects that reduce carbon emissions, and the third involves coming up with an agreement for cleaner energy and reduced subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.
The government also aims to improve protection of the country’s freshwater supplies, by restoring $1.5 million in funding per annum for freshwater research, and renewing commitments to protect marine and coastal areas by increasing the amount of protected area to 10% by 2020.
In the Photo: Planned environmental spending until 2020
After much of the discrimination experienced by the indigenous population, materialising in violence such as missing and murdered indigenous women, the government aims to spend $40 million on public enquiry into the issue. Some of this will include investigation of the missing and murdered indigenous women, court cases to bring justice to the victims and families, and better training the police force. Trudeau has also planned to spend a total of $900 million on an education partnership and $500 million on education infrastructure for First Nations people.
Recently, there has been much coverage in the news of Trudeau’s immigration policy. Aiming to take in 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February 2016, the country is setting an example to countries unwilling to welcome refugees. While Canada’s initiatives are praiseworthy, it is important to keep in mind the efforts of other countries, such as Germany who is estimated to have taken in over 1 million Syrian refugees this year.
Aiming to have taken in 10,000 refugees by the end of December 2015, upon arrival in Canada the refugees are given permanent residency status as well as social insurance numbers and health cards. This video below shows Trudeau’s commitment to making refugees feel welcome in Canada earlier this month.
In regards to longer term efforts, Trudeau has set aside a total of $175 million specifically to reduce application processing time between now and 2020.
Last but not least, the new Prime Minister is committed to making the Canadian government more open and honest by making government information more accessible. To do this, he will update the Access to Information Act, eliminate information access fee (apart from the $5 filing fee), expand the role of the information commissioner (giving them power to issue binding orders for disclosure), and will undertake a full legislative review of the Access to Information Act every 5 years.
As we can see there have been many goals and promises made by Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party. He is committed to ‘real change’, and while many of those commitments have been quantified, much of how those goals will be achieved is yet to be determined. Let us hope that, unlike many, Justin Trudeau can step up and set a new example for the future of politics.
All photos in this article taken from @JustinTrudeau on Twitter.