NDP platform calls for $200 billion in new spending on health care, climate change, Indigenous reconciliation

Much of the new spending proposed by the NDP would be offset by $166 billion in revenue raised through a series of new taxes and other measures targeted at wealthy individuals and large, profitable corporations.

Party projects lower deficits than Liberals and Tories most years due to taxes on wealthy, corporations

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh takes part in advanced voting during the Canadian federal election campaign in Burnaby, B.C., on Sept. 10. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

The federal NDP is promising $214 billion in new spending over the next five years, according to a costing breakdown of its platform commitments released Saturday.

Much of that spending would be offset by $166 billion in revenue raised during the same period through a series of new taxes and other measures targeted at wealthy individuals and large, profitable corporations.

"I'm proud to say that we are the only party that has a plan that will ensure that we are not going to put any extra burden on working class people, on the middle class, on small businesses," NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters while campaigning in Vancouver.

"Our plan is the only one with a credible vision to [increase] revenue significantly and substantially so that we can invest in the programs that people need, the help that people need, at the same time as putting us in a better situation to reduce our debt."

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The calculation, which is partly based on projections from Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), estimates how much NDP platform promises would cost over the next five years, and how much revenue new tax measures would bring into federal coffers. 

It attaches specific dollar projections to policy pledges contained in the NDP platform, which the party released earlier this summer, but which was criticized as being long on ambition and short on details.

The PBO in its reports acknowledged uncertainty when it came to the revenue figures.

Singh conceded some uncertainty about the plan, saying it "hasn't been done before" but he argued it's "a real path forward" that "Canadians believe makes sense."

WATCH | Singh pressed on uncertainty around NDP platform costing:

Singh pressed on uncertainty around his platform's price tag

1 year ago
Duration 1:21
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh acknowledges there is some uncertainty with some of his platform's revenue projections, but says it's because what he's proposing "hasn't been done before."

No immediate plan to get back to balance

The costed platform calls for $40 billion in additional spending for 2021-22. It predicts a steep deficit of $145 billion in 2021-22, which would shrink to $53 billion the next year before declining gradually to $34 billion in 2025-26.

There is no immediate plan to get back to budgetary balance, but party officials point to the declining debt-to-GDP ratio — which would go from 48% in 2021-22 to 45.8% by 2025-26 — as an indication that the party has a clear path back to balance.

According to party officials speaking on background, the NDP promises are above and beyond what was contained in the 2021-22 budget proposed by the Liberal government and passed by Parliament earlier this year. Even so, the party is projecting lower annual deficits in most years when compared with the Liberal and Conservative platforms, in part, because of an abundance of revenue-generating proposals.

Unlike the Conservative Party platform, which proposes cancelling the Liberal's big-ticket promise to spend $30 billion to build a national child-care program, the NDP plans to honour the existing deals the Liberals have signed with several provinces and to finish building a national system.

The most expensive line item in the NDP costing is $68 billion in new health-care spending over the next five years, which would fund universal prescription drug coverage, expand long-term care and home-care options, and cover dental care and mental health expenses for many Canadians on the lower end of the income spectrum.

The party says this would bring its platform the closest to meeting the provincial and territorial premiers' demand to have the federal government cover 35 per cent of all health-care costs — which would amount to increasing the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) by $28 billion per year. (The Conservative platform would inject $60 billion into health care over the next 10 years with no strings attached, although most of that money would be coming in the latter half of the decade. The Liberals would create a dedicated mental health transfer and say they are willing to negotiate increases the CHT).

The NDP is also proposing to spend $26 billion to fight climate change and support workers who may need to transition out of high-polluting industries such as oil and gas. 

In addition, the party would redirect $35 billion already budgeted for projects with the Canadian Infrastructure Bank into a "climate bank," which would have a mandate to boost investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and low-carbon technology.

Another $30 billion would go toward efforts to achieve reconciliation with Indigenous people. More than half of that amount would be invested to bring the federal government in compliance with a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling by compensating First Nations families and children who were removed from their homes and placed in the child welfare system.

The release of the NDP's platform costing comes on the second day of advance voting, with nine days left in the campaign before election day.

When asked whether voters would have benefited from having more time to review the party's numbers, Singh responded that Canadians won't be surprised by what they see.

"We have been very consistent that we want to invest in people,"Singh said. "We've said for a long time that we believe we've got to lift up people. We've done that throughout the pandemic.We've proposed that before the election."

New revenue streams

Below are the revenue raising measures and the amounts the party projects each would bring in:

  • $60 billion through a 1% annual tax on households with wealth over $10 million. 

  • $44 billion through raising the capital gains inclusion rate to 75% from 50% .

  • $25 billion through raising the corporate income tax rate  to 18% from 15%. This would apply only to businesses that make more than $500,000 in profit.

  • $14 billion through an "excess profit tax" on companies that made large profits during the COVID-19 pandemic. This would  apply to only some companies that make profit in excess of $10 million per year.

  • $12 billion through cracking down on tax havens. The Canada Revenue Agency would receive $100 million in extra funding to expand its capability to track down such funds.

All of the above revenue items have been costed by the PBO, according to party officials.

With files from The Canadian Press

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