Liberal To-Do List: 10 promises they could deliver in their first 100 days

Canadians have clearly spoken: on October 19, they voted for change and an unexpected Liberal majority was the direct result. During the campaign, we published several analyses of the party platforms on this blog. The Liberals performed well, earning the second highest AFB score (a B grade) on a comparison of party promises to Alternative Federal Budget proposals. If those promises are turned into policy, there will be much for progressives to celebrate.

Transition periods are a whirlwind of activity for any new government. That’s why it’s important to stay focused on the progressive policies that can be implemented rapidly (i.e., within 100 days), since many initiatives will take longer to put in place. With that restrictive timetable in mind, here are the top 10 progressive items from the Liberal platform (and the AFB) for the first 100 days.

1. Lift seniors and children out of poverty.

Implementing the lower end of the proposed Canada Child Benefit would lift more than 315,000 children out of poverty, according to the Liberal platform. Improving the singles portion of the Guaranteed Income Supplement would likely lift at least 100,000 seniors out of poverty. Both of these changes could be implemented immediately.

2. Set greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and a climate plan for the Paris talks.

The Liberal platform is a little vague on GHG targets. A 35% reduction in GHG emissions below 2005 levels by 2025 is likely a good start. Targets are nothing without a plan, which will need to be roughly sketched and brought to the important climate change meetings in Paris in November.

3. Establish a commission of inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

This is long overdue, and although such a commission wouldn’t likely report for a year or two, it could be set up and running relatively quickly. (On October 20 Trudeau announced he is talking with Indigenous groups about setting up a commission as soon as possible.)

4. Return the age of eligibility of Old Age Security to 65.

Moving the OAS age of eligibility back to 65 would prevent thousands of low-income seniors from waiting until age 67 before they can receive OAS benefits. Because this wouldn’t come into force until 2023, there are no immediate fiscal implications.

5. Restore Veterans Affairs offices, coast guard stations, food safety inspectors, EI quality of service, and other public services.

Years of departmental cutbacks resulted in service degradation and office closures of federal public services. It will take some time to re-open and re-staff these offices; the government should move quickly.

6. Boost EI coverage.

Roughly 40% of unemployed Canadians can currently access EI benefits. Boosting this coverage rate by reducing both the waiting time and the number of hours worked to receive EI can help Canadians who’ve lost their jobs access the benefits to which they’re entitled.

7. Restore health care for refugees.

The Interim Federal Health Program pays for temporary health care for refugees. It was cut by the Harper government, resulting in the costs of refugee health care being downloaded to the provinces. The program’s full reinstatement will allow refugees to receive the health care they deserve.

8. Implement fair tax policies to reduce income inequality.

Income inequality has become a substantial issue in Canada. Several proposed measures could help reduce it through the tax system. A new top tax bracket for those making over $200,000 will slightly offset large gains that group has otherwise made. The cancellation of income splitting and the capping of Tax Free Savings Accounts will help to make sure that loopholes for the wealthy stay closed.

9. Policy review of our foreign, defence, and security needs and goals.

We need to rethink Canada’s guiding principles and considerations for intervention in military operations abroad. The government should also take a hard look at the appropriate balance between military and criminal justice responses to the challenges posed by terrorism. A policy review with broad consultation would help inform these goals.

10. Repeal Bills C-51, C-377 and C-24.

Bill C-51 on security, Bill C-24 on revoking immigrant citizenship, and the anti-labour bill C-377 should be repealed. In fairness, the Liberal platform states they would like to fix problems with C-51 and introduce a better oversight regime for Canada’s security agencies, but either way these changes could be done quickly.


There’s much more we could say about climate change policy (beyond GHG targets), infrastructure, education, health care, etc. And we will—in our 21st Alternative Federal Budget, which will be released in the New Year. Most of our best ideas will take longer than 100 days to implement, so this is just a start.

If you have other progressive ideas from the Liberal platform that you’d like implemented in the first 100 days put them in the comments below.

David Macdonald is a Senior Economist with the CCPA. Follow David on Twitter @DavidMacCdn.

18 comments

    1. This government can also reverse the provinces efforts to undermined the Worker’s Compensation Boards. Serious Workplace Injury should not => poverty. This can be done by enshrining Meredith’s Principles in Federal Legislation like the Canada Health Act or the Canadian Charter of Rights. “Law of Employers’ Liability & Workers’ Compensation Principles:
      • Payment Security- to injured workers for as long as the disability lasts
      • No fault system -paid through employer premiums
      • Collective liability- employees give up the right to sue their employer for insurance based on medical & deeming made illegal since it is now being abused as it is being applied to reduce the benefits of seriously injured workers who have been found medically unable to work.
      • Administration by an independent agency- that’s
      non-adversarial & benefits determined based on medical evidence system excluding irrelevant criteria such as work skills.
      Taxpayers are not suppose to be paying for the income & medical needs of workers injured in their workplaces but employers are through their premiums. By denying legitimate benefits to injured workers leaves less tax dollars for all government as this workers & their families become a financial burden as they are forced to rely on government programs. Most Canadians do not realized they are working without a Safety Net if they are permanently injured while working since many Worker’s Compensation Board will not pay regardless what the doctors’ say about the worker’s medical condition. Let the government know the 99% of taxpayers don’t want to be saddled with this expense. EMPLOYERS are suppose to pay.

  1. If the TPP is to go forward, I would like to see language that indicates that even though food is produced in other countries, ALL FOOD PRODUCTS MUST CARRY LABELLING THAT INDICATES COUNTRY OF ORIGIN. I do not want milk or meat products from the USA to be passed off as Canadian products. Nor do I want to see any food products from China being passed off as made in Canada.

  2. Great commentary, David! One of the most important and lasting pledges in the Liberal platform is the plan to expand the CPP. That can’t be done in 100 days, of course. But the government can send a strong signal that it wants to head there, and quickly. Ontario is moving forward with its provincial plan — but that wouldn’t be necessary if we can do the CPP right. The political stars in the provinces have aligned, as well. This will be one of the labour movement’s most important priorities.

  3. This government can also reverse the provinces efforts to undermined the Worker’s Compensation Boards. Serious Workplace Injury should not => poverty. This can be done by enshrining Meredith’s Principles in Federal Legislation like the Canada Health Act or the Canadian Charter of Rights. “Law of Employers’ Liability & Workers’ Compensation Principles:
    • Payment Security- to injured workers for as long as the disability lasts
    • No fault system -paid through employer premiums
    • Collective liability- employees give up the right to sue their employer for insurance based on medical & deeming made illegal since it is now being abused as it is being applied to reduce the benefits of seriously injured workers who have been found medically unable to work.
    • Administration by an independent agency- that’s
    non-adversarial & benefits determined based on medical evidence system excluding irrelevant criteria such as work skills.
    Taxpayers are not suppose to be paying for the income & medical needs of workers injured in their workplaces but employers are through their premiums. By denying legitimate benefits to injured workers leaves less tax dollars for all government as this workers & their families become a financial burden as they are forced to rely on government programs. Most Canadians do not realized they are working without a Safety Net if they are permanently injured while working since many Worker’s Compensation Board will not pay regardless what the doctors’ say about the worker’s medical condition. Let the government know the 99% of taxpayers don’t want to be saddled with this expense. EMPLOYERS are suppose to pay.

  4. Repeal whatever legislation that made it impossible for me to get the medication I use to control my fibromyalgia for the last 15 years Guaifenesin an unpatentable drug, I suspect this is due to some sweetheart deal the Conservatives slipped in since Sept 17/2015 in some sweetheart deal with big pharma. I am looking into this issue on Monday and would appreciate any help I can get with this issue as it has taken many years to find the drugs to control this condition and Guaifenesin is a crucial key to this process, I was supposed to be in a wheelchair in 1996 and I am still active for a large part due to this drug. Thank you

  5. 1. Restore the environmental protections to our lakes, rivers, and oceans stripped by the Harper government.
    2. Immediately start to address the problems of aboriginal water quality and housing on reservations, and northern food security with the First Nations.
    3. Repeal Bills C-51, C377 and C24. Repeal means repeal – not amend.
    4. Do not sign the TPP until it protects national rights to pass laws rather than corporate rights to profits.

  6. Increasing the amount of money single seniors are paid under the Guaranteed Income Supplement has to be done with consideration given to the fact than many provinces use the GIS as an indicator for seniors to access programs and services (i.e., prescription drugs, home heating allowances). Unilaterally increasing the GIS without taking into consideration the cumulative impact the additional income will have on benefits offered by provinces/territories may actually make seniors worse off instead of improving their situation.

  7. The most glaring deficiency in the Canadian health care system is dentistry. When it comes to dental health, Canadians have the American system of health care. It is based solely on the ability to pay and that ability is usually based on private insurance plans tied to employment. Truly a two tier system. Vancouver anti-poverty icon Jean Swanson once commented that the surest guide to measuring someone’s social class was to count the number of natural teeth they have left. Low income parents have been known to quit their jobs and go on social assistance or disability in order to take their kids to the dentist or go themselves. But the dental plans associated with these programs are so inadequate that the majority of dentists refuse to treat patients covered under them. The money available, both overall and in terms of individual procedures, is often so far below the dental tariff dentists can charge their regular patients for doing the same work that dentists refuse to eat the difference by subsidizing poor patients.

    It’s not fair or politically correct, but people are judged by their appearance. Rachel Notley’s disarming thousand watt smile is her best asset. Tom Mulcair’s inability to smile without looking totally phony was as responsible for his election loss as NDP policies. Other things being equal, smiling Christy Clark and smiling Justin Trudeau will win every time. Of course, poor dental health can also lead to a host of health problems like cardiovascular disease as well.

    As far as I know, the Green Party was the only party to even mention this issue in the just concluded election, though they didn’t highlight it. For an organization as ostensibly progressive as the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, why is this not an issue of vital concern?

  8. Incorporating dentistry into Medicare was part of the Green Party platform, not the Liberal one and it was not a highlight of their campaign. But unless an organization like the CCFPA is willing to campaign for this, or at least make it an important part of the health care discussion, it will never happen.

    Let’s face it. When it comes to dental care, we have the American system, based solely on the ability to pay, usually through private insurance plans tied to employment. Truly a two tier system.

  9. What happened to the proposal to create a Canadian Infrastructure Development Bank that would lend directly to governments, much like the Bank of Canada used to do. Trudeau mentioned it in one debate, it is one page in the Liberal platform and one sentence in the Green platform.

  10. Most urgent:
    1) Scrap the TPP: it gives precedence to transnational corporate power over national legislative authority.
    2) Repeal Bill C-51.

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