NDP promises 1 million new jobs, better supports for workers

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says his party is committed to creating 1 million jobs — something both the Liberals and Conservatives have promised to do in the past.

Singh said his plan differs from those of Liberals, Conservatives because it promises 'better work'

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says his party would legislate 10 paid sick days for all federally regulated workers. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says his party is committed to creating 1 million jobs — something both the Liberals and Conservatives have promised to do in the past.

The NDP plan includes commitments to improve worker benefits — such as sick leave — and investments in infrastructure to build more affordable housing and retrofit buildings.

"We need to invest in those areas where people lost jobs and to create more jobs," Singh told a press conference in Windsor, Ont. today.

Singh's announcement comes as party leaders have been making announcements across the country in anticipation of an election call that's widely expected by the end of the summer.

The Liberals have been touting a plan to recover 1 million jobs since their throne speech in the fall, and in March the Conservatives announced a plan to recover the same number of jobs.

Singh said the difference between his plan and those of the other parties is that his promises more supports for workers.

"For us, there is no jobs plan unless we've got better work, meaning we've got to immediately increase the minimum wage at the federal level [and] legislate paid sick days," he said.

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But the governing Liberals say the New Democrats are making promises while lacking a clear plan.

"The NDP announcement might sound good, but there was no detail and plan to back it up," said Ashley Michnowski, director of communications for Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough, in an emailed statement.

The NDP is promising an increase to the minimum wage and a sick leave program that would provide workers with 10 paid sick days. Singh acknowledged those measures would apply only to people working in federally regulated industries.

When asked what that would mean for workers covered by provincial labour laws, Singh said the federal government can encourage provinces to follow its example.

"How can we as a federal government raise the importance of paid sick leave if there's not paid sick leave at the federal level?" he said.

Buy Canadian policy?

While the NDP plan focuses on worker supports, Singh said the bulk of the job creation activity would come from his promised investments in infrastructure.

"Our plan also includes a number of measures that are going to create economic activity," he said.

The NDP is promising to build half-a-million affordable housing units, retrofit large buildings to make them more energy efficient and build an unspecified number of long-term care homes.

Other parts of the plan are aimed at ensuring Canadian products are used in auto manufacturing and public infrastructure projects.

"Infrastructure projects that are Canadian projects have to be made using Canadian products," Singh said. He stopped short of calling it a "Buy Canadian" policy, however.

U.S. President Joe Biden moved to strengthen existing Buy American policies once he came into office, prompting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to raise the policy in their first official discussion.

Singh said Canada can ensure the use of Canadian goods in infrastructure projects while still respecting international trade agreements.

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