IN THE NEWS - Op-ed - Canadians should be able to count on their government for help

The impact of the rising cost of living has been devastating for families. Almost one in five Canadians can’t buy enough food because grocery prices are so high. A survey released this month confirmed almost one in four homeowners say they would be forced to sell their home if interest rates continue to rise. The cost of rent is also rising at a rapid rate, causing deep anxiety and fear of becoming homeless because people can’t keep up.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

MP Peter Julian rises during question period in the House of Commons on June 5, 2019. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

In times like this, people need real help. They need their government to get money back in their pockets so they can afford basic necessities. Canadians need to be able to rely on their government for that help. Unfortunately, those who are thriving and given the space to grow are big box stores and big oil companies who have been making record profits off the backs of struggling Canadians in this time of crisis. Profitable, ultra-rich companies that don’t pay their fair share in taxes are benefiting completely from the rising costs of food, gas and housing — things people need and are struggling to afford.

The Liberals refuse to make Big Oil and big box stores pay their fair share. The NDP has been calling for a tax on surplus profits so we can use the money to invest in real help for people. Liberals and Conservatives voted against it.

New Democrats understand that people need help and that we need to deliver it fast. In March, Jagmeet Singh and the NDP reached an agreement with the government to deliver help for people to overcome the challenges tied to the aftermath of the pandemic, Russia’s criminal war in Ukraine and the climate crisis. In the last federal election, voters gave Parliament a clear mandate: build a growing economy that supports families with green jobs, more affordable housing and child care, and stronger health care. New Democrats heard you and got to work to deliver.

As a result of this agreement, New Democrats used our power to secure dental care for people who desperately need it. A dental care program will save people thousands of dollars and protect their health. And after the Liberals abandoned their pharmacare promise in their 2021 platform, because of the NDP, their budget included the steps mentioned in our agreement to move toward a universal and national pharmacare program. We also pushed the government to move on affordable housing by extending the rapid housing initiative for an additional year and include a $500 one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit, which would be renewed in coming years if cost-of-living challenges remain.

Since the beginning of this Parliament, New Democrats’ priorities were clear: making sure people get the help they need. With the cost of living spiking, we called on the Liberals to double the GST rebate and increase the Canada Child Benefit so we can get up to $1,000 into the pockets of more than 12 million Canadians. Instead, the deputy prime minister went to Bay Street to make re-announcements that do nothing to help people today. While the Liberals focus on the corporate elites, their so-called plan to help hardworking Canadians gives them seven extra dollars on their GST cheques. Seven dollars.

People need a government that understands what they are going through. And the Liberals clearly don’t. Families deserve real support.

New Democrats won’t stop fighting for families. We have heard too many heart-wrenching stories of those who just can’t make ends meet. As budgets get stretched thin, people fear losing their homes. More and more families are relying on food banks for their daily meals. This is the reality.

We need to work together to fix this. To make sure people are getting help. New Democrats will continue to work for Canadians.

We have your back as we always have.

This op-ed from NDP House leader Peter Julian is part of a week of special coverage from iPolitics to mark the end of the parliamentary sitting. 

Canadians should be able to count on their government for help


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