NDP promises major social supports if they form government

·4 min read
NDP Leader Gary Burrill, surrounded by some of his party's candidates, released the campaign's vision document on Sunday. (Steve Lawrence/CBC - image credit)
NDP Leader Gary Burrill, surrounded by some of his party's candidates, released the campaign's vision document on Sunday. (Steve Lawrence/CBC - image credit)

NDP Leader Gary Burrill says that if his party forms the next Nova Scotia government, it would bring in a $15-an-hour minimum wage, permanent rent control and 10 pro-rated paid sick days for all workers, all within the first months in office.

Backed by a number of candidates on Sunday in Halifax , Burrill released his party's so-called vision document, 60 pages that provide a 10-year outlook for the province if the NDP forms government after the provincial election on Aug. 17.

"We know that the day has come in Nova Scotia that we need a vision and a plan and a framework of thought that looks far beyond the election cycle and its four-year limitations," he said.

While there are items, such as rent control, increased minimum wage and access to same-day or next-day mental health care — which will be part of the party's four-year platform complete with costs to be released later in the campaign — there are also items that Burrill admits will take more time to achieve.

Those include guaranteeing single rooms for everyone in long-term care who want one and a review of whether Nova Scotia Power should remain privatized.

'We are talking about the concrete'

The NDP is also building on the announcement last week of a plan from the Liberals to bring in affordable daycare, by pledging to provide free care before and after school based in elementary schools, including pre-primary sites.

Broadly, the document lays out commitments — some short term, some long term — related to a variety of issues, including education, social supports, health care, the environment, natural resources and housing.

"We are talking about the practical, we are talking about the concrete, we are talking about the real needs like a $15-an-hour minimum wage, on the road to a living wage, so that the purchasing power of the economy of Nova Scotia can be strengthened," said Burrill.

The party is positioning its campaign about people, while the Liberals and Tories, he said, are about cuts. He pointed to the spring budget passed by the Liberals, which calls for a reduction in department spending next year of $209 million as part of a plan to balance the budget within four years.

Steve Lawrence/CBC
Steve Lawrence/CBC

He also criticized Tory Leader Tim Houston's plan to increase wages for workers by sending 50 per cent of the corporate taxes companies pay back to them, if they agree to pass the money on to their employees. Last year, the province collected about $400 million in corporate taxes.

Sunday was a quieter day for the Tories and Liberal Leader Iain Rankin.

Houston, who will release his party's costed platform later this week, hit the pavement in Dartmouth in the morning for the first full day of the campaign.

Walking in the sunshine alongside Dartmouth East candidate Tim Halman, Houston spoke to families on their doorstep about health care and the party's plans for the province.

Houston remained critical about the timing of the election. He said Nova Scotia is still in a state of emergency with the COVID-19 pandemic, and Rankin is taking advantage of a summer schedule that works best for him.

But with only eight known active cases of the virus as of Sunday, Houston was asked when would be a better time.

'We're ready'

"Well, he's called the election now, so we're dealing with it. We're ready," Houston said.

"We're going to go out and listen to Nova Scotians and share our vision with Nova Scotia. So he played that card and we'll respond in due kind."

Houston was also set to campaign in Colchester North on Sunday before opening his Stellarton headquarters in his own district of Pictou East. The Progressive Conservative platform will be released later this week.

Rankin started his day knocking on doors in his home district of Timberlea-Prospect, before moving on to districts in Bedford and Halifax where he visited several candidates' campaign headquarters.

Michael Gorman/CBC
Michael Gorman/CBC

Rankin routinely door knocks between election cycles but Sunday was the first time he's been able to do it for a while. He said he was happy to resume the process starting close to home.

"It was really great to see people that I haven't seen in a while," he said.

"I do think it's probably the most important thing, to interact with people if you can do it in person."

The Liberals intend to roll out their platform through the course of the campaign.

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