Politics

How the Liberal-NDP agreement will work and what it might mean for Canadians

Parties agreed to work together on 7 key policy areas, including health, climate change and affordability

Posted: March 22, 2022
Last Updated: March 22, 2022

Photo illustration featuring Justin Trudeau, left, and Jagmeet Singh in Ottawa on March 22, 2022. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The "supply-and-confidence" agreement struck between the governing Liberals and the opposition New Democrats could affect the kind of legislation Canadians can expect to see pass through Parliament between now and 2025.

The parties have agreed to work together on key policy areas in situations where both parties want the same "medium term outcome" — while avoiding an early election call.

According to the deal, those key policy areas are climate change, health care spending, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, economic growth and efforts to make life more affordable. 

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To do this, the parties will need to establish a working relationship that governs how they communicate plans and voting intentions. The Prime Minister's Office published a statement on its website outlining the deal. Here's a look at some key questions.

Is this a coalition government?

No. The NDP does not become part of the Liberal government. New Democrat MPs remain in opposition, they get no seats at the cabinet table and the NDP can walk away from the deal if it feels it no longer serves its interests. 

The deal only requires the NDP to vote in support of the government on confidence votes and budgetary matters such as budget implementation legislation and money bills.

The voting commitment stands until Parliament rises in June 2025, allowing the Liberals to present four federal budgets. 

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Tuesday that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not offer to bring the NDP into the government — and he would have turned down such an offer.

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"I want to go into it with the spirit of hopeful optimism but I will remain critical and we're going to remain an opposition party," Singh said Tuesday. "We are going to remain forceful in getting help to people and making sure that this agreement is followed through."

How will the parties work together day by day?

The PMO statement says that in order to make the deal work, the NDP has agreed not to move a vote of non-confidence in government or to vote in favour of one should it be introduced by another party.

The deal says that if a vote in the House has been crafted to "impede the government from functioning," it will declare it a confidence vote while giving the NDP advance notice. Similarly, the NDP promises to inform the Liberal government "before declaring publicly to permit discussions around confidence to take place."

To ensure that parliamentary committees continue to function, the deal states that both parties agree to keep in touch on issues that would "cause unnecessary obstructions to legislation review, studies and work plans at committees."

WATCH | Conservative leadership candidates criticize Liberal-NDP deal: 

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Conservative leadership candidates wasted no time slamming the Liberal-NDP deal, with Pierre Poilievre vowing to bring forward a non-confidence motion if elected party leader and Patrick Brown calling the agreement a ‘nightmare.’ At the same time, the deal was met with mixed reaction from Canadians.  2:04

The parties also agree to expedite bills through the House of Commons, with the NDP promising to "support a limited number of programming motions to pass legislation that both parties agree to."

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To ensure the NDP stays informed, the Liberal government is promising to make public servants available to brief the NDP "in a timely fashion" to give the party enough time to respond before actions are taken.

The parties also have agreed to party leaders meeting every quarter, regular meetings between the House leaders and whips and monthly take-stock meetings presided over by a group of staff and politicians.

Singh said that he will select the NDP MPs and staff members attending those meetings.

What do the two parties want to do?

The NDP and the Liberals have identified seven key areas where they say they will work together. Here's what they've agreed to pursue:

Health

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Affordability

Climate change

Labour

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Reconciliation

Tax initiatives

Democracy