Green platform promises big, largely uncosted social programs, end to fossil fuel industry

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Without holding a formal platform launch with leader Annamie Paul, the Green Party of Canada has quietly released a series of as yet uncosted promises for the 2021 election campaign, including vast social programs such as universal pharmacare and free university tuition.

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul released her party’s election platform today but did not hold a press conference or take questions from the media to mark the milestone. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)

Without holding a formal platform launch featuring party leader Annamie Paul, the Green Party of Canada has quietly released a series of largely uncosted promises for the 2021 election campaign.

The platform proposes a new slate of social programs, such as universal pharmacare, dental care, an affordable child care plan and free university on top of the cancellation of all student debt.

While cost of the platform has not been analyzed by the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the platform estimates that the cost of a free university education would be $10.2 billion a year. 

The Greens are also promising to create a universal long-term-care system that would be governed by national standards of care under the Canada Health Act. 

The system would be funded directly by the federal government through a new stream separate from federal health transfers to provinces and territories called the seniors’ care transfer. 

The Greens are also proposing to introduce a guaranteed livable income that “would provide every Canadian with a basic revenue source, ensuring that people can cover basic expenses such as food and accommodation.” 

The program would be based what is required to have a “livable” existence in each part of the country. The platform says that this would alleviate the pressure on provinces to provide programs such as welfare, freeing up provincial budgets to focus on the rising cost of health. 

“Our platform is what this moment calls for,” Paul said in a statement. “Many of the tragic events that unfolded during the past 18 months revealed gaping fault lines in our society, vulnerabilities that, if not addressed, will leave us in a perilously weak position to face the immense challenges of the 21st century.”

Shutting fossil fuel industries

The plan would also call for an increase of Canada’s emission reduction commitments under the Paris agreement — which  currently sit at cutting emissions 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 — to a reduction of 60 per cent over the same time period. 

Part of the way to get there, the platform states, is to increase the price on carbon. Right now, Canadians pay $50 per tonne, which rises $15 per year until it hits $170 in 2030. The Greens want to bump the yearly increase to $25 a year, rising to $250 a year by 2030. 

The Green platform says the party can do this with a series of measures that will shut down the fossil fuel industry in Canada, including: ending the extraction of all fossil fuels in the country; cancelling all new pipelines, including the Trans Mountain pipeline; cancelling all new oil exploration projects; and ending the leasing of federal land for fossil fuel production while retiring existing licenses, banning fracking, and ending fossil fuel subsidies. 

The platform also calls for the phasing out of existing oil and gas operations and would require the Canada Pension Plan to get rid of all fossil fuel investments. 

On top of this, the sale of all internal combustion passenger vehicles would be banned by 2030 and all passenger ferries would be converted to electric or  hybrid systems. 

To ease oil and gas workers into greener industries, the party will introduce the Just Transition Act, which will “replace every high paying fossil fuel sector job with a high paying green sector job through wage insurance, retraining programs and early retirement plans.”

Carbon border adjustments and other promises

The platform makes a series of other proposals, including to:

  • Declare housing affordability and homelessness a national emergency and immediately appoint a federal housing advocate.
  • Invest in the construction and operation of 50,000 supportive housing units over 10 years.
  • Build and acquire a minimum of 300,000 units of deeply affordable non-market, co-op and non-profit housing over a decade.
  • Allocate $10 billion to post-secondary and trade schools.
  • Decriminalize possession of illicit drugs for personal use.
  • Conduct an immediate review of the RCMP role in policing municipalities and reserves and identify areas for “detasking” police and reducing police spending.
  • Ban and condemn the practice of medically unnecessary surgeries on intersex children.
  • Ban and condemn the practice of conversion therapy, in all its forms. 
  • Develop and implement carbon border adjustments to ensure Canadian businesses do not face unfair competition from polluting jurisdictions.
  • Expand VIA Rail to a rail and bus system.
  • Replace one-third of Canada’s food imports with domestic production, bringing $15 billion back into the economy. 
  • Call on the Pope to apologize on behalf of the Roman Catholic church for its role in residential schools
  • Ban the development of new nuclear power.

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