Questions for 2019 Federal Election Candidates

Questions for candidates

  • Phoenix
  • Government bargaining
  • Contracting out and privatization
  • Climate crisis and the just transition
  • Pharmacare
  • Child care
  • Pensions

Phoenix

Question:  Will you commit to working for fair compensation for PSAC members for the Phoenix debacle?

Background: Over the last four years, public service workers have had to deal with the Phoenix pay system nightmare. Some were underpaid, others were overpaid, and some were not paid at all. Despite all this, the government could not offer a fair compensation deal to PSAC members.

Ideal commitment: Offer PSAC members a better deal that includes a cash settlement (not days of leave) and is the same for all members, regardless of salary.

Government bargaining

Question:  Will your government commit to negotiating fair contracts with PSAC members—contracts that provide for wage increases that at least keep up with inflation, improve work-life balance and put an end to contracting out of public service jobs?

Background: The Liberal government has squandered many opportunities to reach fair collective agreements with the 140,000 PSAC members who deliver federal public services. As a result, all these workers have been working without new contracts, some for nearly three years.

Ideal commitment: Offer PSAC members wage increases that keep up with inflation or better; improvements to work-life balance, such as a full parental leave top-up for 18 months; and make a commitment to increase the hiring of unionized public service workers.

Contracting out and privatization

Question: Will you commit to putting an end to the privatization of the public sector?

Background: In a worrisome trend, the federal government has been increasing the contracting out of work and projects usually done by public sector workers to private firms. This includes small projects within the public service as well as big infrastructure projects (public-private partnerships or P3s). But evidence in Canada and in other countries shows that when private firms that take over the work, they are not accountable to the public and the work ends up costing taxpayers more.

Ideal commitment: End the contracting out of work that can be performed by federal public service workers and make a commitment to stop relying on P3s for big infrastructure projects.

Climate crisis and the just transition

Question 1:  What will your government do to address the climate crisis?

Background: The climate crisis is the most serious threat to our collective future and we all have to do our part to transition to a sustainable economy.

Ideal commitment: Adopt stronger greenhouse gas reduction targets to help stabilize the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Create federal incentives for zero-emission automobiles, ban single-use plastics, and increase funding and access to public transit while creating green jobs.

Question 2:  What will your government do to transition our economy to a green economy in a way that protects workers and their families?

Background: While there is a need to transition to a green economy to address the climate crisis, workers, their families and their communities need to be supported by government throughout this process.

Ideal commitment: Commit to a strong plan to move towards a ‘green’ economy that includes working cooperatively with the Canadian Labour Congress and unions to ensure a just transition. A just transition should include: labour market impact assessments following the introduction of ‘green’ policies; programs to help workers acquire ‘green’ skills; community benefit agreements for regions with carbon-intensive industries; and income support and employment insurance where necessary.

Pharmacare

Question:  Will your government commit to expanding our national healthcare system to include a universal pharmacare plan?

Background: Canadians pay some of the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. As a result, many do not fill their prescriptions. This is not acceptable. No one should have to decide between buying groceries and getting the medicine they need.

Ideal commitment: Introduce a national, publicly-administered universal prescription drug plan for every Canadian, in every province and territory, with zero co-pay and zero deductibles. The plan should not be a patchwork solution, that simply covers what private plans leave out, as this does not allow for the effective negotiation of lower prices for drugs.

Child care

Question:  Will you commit to introducing a universal child care system in Canada?

Background: Parents in Canada continue to face exorbitant bills and long waitlists for child care. Making affordable, high-quality, inclusive and culturally appropriate child care available to all—including parents who work non-standard hours and those who live in rural communities—will grow the economy, promote gender equality, increase women’s labour force participation and enhance children’s well-being.

Ideal commitment:  Increase the federal early learning and child care (ELCC) budget by $1 billion annually for 10 years to meet the internationally recommended spending benchmark and make federal transfer payments conditional on negotiated agreements being met as steps to achieve an affordable, high-quality, universal and accessible national child care plan.

Pensions

Question (for federal public service workers):  Will your government commit to maintaining the federal public service pension plan as a defined benefit plan?

Background:The Harper Conservative government started the discussion about allowing employers to turn defined benefit pension plans, which provide a specific benefit on retirement, to target-benefit pension plans which only aim to provide a certain benefit. The Liberal government would have turned this into law (Bill C-27) but did not proceed with it after PSAC members and the labour movement worked to stop it.

Ideal commitment: A strong commitment to maintaining a defined-benefit pension plan for federal public service workers. There should be no attempt to promote defined-contribution or target-benefit pension plans.

Question (for all): What will your government do to improve retirement security for Canadians?

Background: After a ten-year campaign by the labour movement, the Liberal government made improvements to the Canada Pension Plan in 2016. However, as precarious work increases and employers work to avoid pension obligations, the public pension system needs to continue to expand to ensure all workers can retire with financial security. New laws also are needed to ensure that employee pensions are protected when companies declare bankruptcy.

Ideal commitment: Expand the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) so that workers can retire well above the poverty line. Enact laws to ensure workers’ pensions are fully protected when companies declare bankruptcy.