Liberals to release platform on Wednesday amid tightening polls and looming debate

·4 min read
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau announces mental health funding at campaign stop in Ottawa on Tuesday. The Liberals will release their full election platform Wednesday. ((The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette) - image credit)
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau announces mental health funding at campaign stop in Ottawa on Tuesday. The Liberals will release their full election platform Wednesday. ((The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette) - image credit)

Liberals will release their full election platform Wednesday, a day ahead of the first televised leadership debate of the summer campaign.

The move comes at a time when polls suggest the Liberals, who entered the campaign eyeing a majority, have ceded ground to the Conservatives.

The CBC's Poll Tracker currently has the Conservatives with a narrow lead after more than two weeks campaigning exclusively on their platform, dubbed "Canada's Recovery Plan."

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole released his 160-page plan the day after the election was called. Although not yet costed by the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), the plan details billions of dollars in new spending and promises to recover one million jobs within one year.

Jagmeet Singh's NDP also released platform commitments — including universal pharmacare and a pledge to create 500,000 units of affordable housing in the next 10 years — days before the election was called. The NDP's promises have also not been fully costed by the PBO.

The Bloc Québécois unveiled its platform last week, while the Green Party has yet to produce its plan with less than three weeks to go before election day.

The Liberal plan will come out before a French-language debate Thursday hosted by Quebec's TVA network.

Watch: Trudeau says other parties are 'weaker' on climate change

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau spent some early campaign moments promoting his government's signed agreements with eight provinces and territories for a $10-a-day child-care program.

Yet he has also announced several new proposals the Liberals will pursue if re-elected, from spending billions more on health care to help provinces hire 7,500 new family doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners to raising the corporate income tax rate on bank and insurance company profits of more than $1 billion.

At a campaign stop in Granby, Que., on Monday, a reporter asked Trudeau when he would release a full platform for Canadians to consider, given that he has said the election is an opportunity to discuss "big ideas" about Canada's recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

Trudeau said at the time that his platform would be out "in the coming days" but also said that he had been putting out "big ideas" since the start of the campaign.

Conservatives released a media statement Tuesday noting it was the 17th day of the campaign and chiding Trudeau for not having released a platform. "What is Justin Trudeau hiding in his risky plan for Canadians?" the party asked in the missive.

In the 2019 election, Liberals released their platform on Sept. 29 — 18 days after the campaign began. The Conservatives, led at the time by Andrew Scheer, released their platform on Oct. 16 — after debates had ended and on the day advance polling opened.

Trudeau promises Canada Mental Health Transfer

At a campaign stop in Ottawa Tuesday, Trudeau said that a re-elected Liberal government would create a permanent Canada Mental Health Transfer for provinces and territories. The initial investment, he said, would be $4.5 billion over five years.

The party is also promising to spend $500 million over four years to support the hiring of up to 1,200 new mental health-care counsellors at post-secondary institutions across Canada.

Liberals will also fund a national, three-digit mental health crisis and suicide prevention hotline, an idea previously championed by Conservative MP Todd Doherty.

"The past 18 months have been really tough for parents, for seniors, for essential workers, for those grieving the loss of family members, for everyone that has faced discrimination or hate," Trudeau said. "No matter who you are, you deserve the right support, and that includes mental health."

At a campaign stop in Iqaluit, Nunavut, on Monday, Trudeau promised an additional $1.4 billion over five years for a mental health and wellness strategy to be developed in co-operation with First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation.

Mental health is a key priority for all parties in light of the isolation and grief experienced during the pandemic.

O'Toole has identified mental health as a core pillar of his Conservative platform, which promises to inject $60 billion in the health-care system over the next 10 years. Although the Tory leader has said he will not dictate how provinces and territories spend that money, he will work with them to ensure mental health investments are a "priority."

O'Toole has said a government led by him would encourage employers to add mental health coverage to their employee benefit plans with a 25 per cent tax credit for three years to offset any additional costs incurred.

The Conservative leader has also pitched $1 billion in new funding over five years for First Nations, Métis and Inuit mental health and drug treatment programs, and has also said a Tory government would create a nationwide three-digit suicide prevention hotline.

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