OTTAWA – POLITICS – “Unfortunately, much of the spirit of cross-party collaboration that delivered a lot of essential support for people in Canada has disappeared,” said Green Party Leader Annamie Paul. “Despite marketing a ‘Team Canada’ approach to fighting the pandemic, the Prime Minister has not invited other party leaders to a COVID-19 briefing for months. This has prevented parties from presenting a united front to the public that would have increased confidence at this critical time.
As Parliament begins a new sitting on Monday, the Green Party of Canada reminds Members of Parliament that people in Canada are counting on them to stay focused. The urgent needs of the people, not any pre-election posturing and positioning, must be our priority.
Paul adds, “And while cooperation does not exclude healthy and necessary opposition in Parliament, it does preclude the kind of unnecessary brinkmanship we witnessed several times in the last sitting. As we continue to face down the pandemic – whether it’s vaccine procurement and distribution, or messaging – there should be no place for politics in any aspect of Canada’s COVID-19 strategy.
“As this new sitting begins, we note the government is straying further and further from the Prime Minister’s promise to ‘keep doing whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to beat COVID-19 and protect Canadians through the crisis.’ Whether it’s sick pay, a long-term care (LTC) strategy, universal pharmacare, dental care or relief for students, the Green caucus will be working to see that the government’s commitment is fulfilled.
“The government of Canada has failed to address the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in LTC. Canada has the worst record for protecting LTC residents during this pandemic, and it has been described as a senecide. With hundreds of outbreaks and thousands of deaths in LTC, the Prime Minister must convene a First Minister’s Meeting to agree on an urgent action plan to implement the clear, actionable recommendations that experts say will save lives immediately and that the Green Party has laid out. The health and security of every person in Canada is the Prime Minister’s responsibility and he must show leadership.
“In the case of Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the government admits it made a fundamental mistake but refuses to correct it, placing the burden on vulnerable recipients instead. In December, it acknowledged that it had communicated wrong eligibility information to applicants. Despite this, and in the midst of a pandemic, the Prime Minister insists that cancelling repayments is ‘off the table.’ Recipients who did not earn $5,000 dollars gross in the previous year must repay the full amount (up to $14,000 dollars).
“Green Party MPs are hearing from constituents who have no hope of paying back the amount and who are fearful and overwhelmed,” said Ms. Paul. “The Green Party has said that the government must do the right thing and confirm to these good faith recipients they will not be required to pay back the CERB they received.
“The CERB debacle underlines the fact that a patchwork of stop-gap measures will always result in people being left without support. The Green Party supported extending emergency benefits and plans to reform employment insurance, while emphasizing the need for a permanent, universal benefit. The pandemic has more than made that case, and now is the time for the government to launch discussions on implementing a Guaranteed Livable Income – something the Green Party has been advocating since 2006 and which the Liberal caucus has named as its top policy priority.
“The Liberal government’s climate plan and legislation introduced last fall are simply not good enough and will not allow Canada to meet its Paris climate obligations. Canada continues to fall further behind in the global race to launch a green economy while countries like the U.S. push ahead in planning theirs. It is frustrating to see workers in the oilpatch being left behind because their government is failing to plan for their future,” said Ms. Paul.
“Last week, President Biden demonstrated decisive climate leadership, and now is the time for the federal government to show that it is serious about protecting the climate and the future of Canadian workers. The Green Party was the first to propose a North American Carbon Border to protect Canadian workers and businesses. We are the only federal party committed to ending fracking, new pipelines and oil and gas exploration projects and instead using those funds to invest in renewable energy, green infrastructure and Cleantech, a sector estimated to be worth US$3 trillion dollars globally by 2030.”
“Finally, the Green Party reiterates its call for the Prime Minister to convene an intergovernmental COVID-19 task force to coordinate a national response to Canada’s greatest health crisis in over a century.
“On day one, President Biden appointed a national COVID-19 Coordinator to create a unified national response, recognising that a coordinated approach and roadmap were needed,” said Ms. Paul. “At the same time, Canada has no national coordinator, no national strategy, and no roadmap. Across the country, frontline workers and medical associations have raised the alarm about the dangerous lack of collaboration and coordination across levels of government and pleaded with the federal government to intervene. The Green Party has made the same calls for months and will continue to push to see this task force convened.”
“As we enter this sitting of Parliament, I want to say to all people in Canada that leadership and ambition in our policies is possible. We know what has to be done, and Greens understand that Canada has the chance of a lifetime. All that we need is the political leadership.”