NDP releases uncosted platform as Libs, PCs leave voters hanging ahead of debate

·3 min read

The New Democratic Party released an uncosted platform Wednesday, just hours ahead of a televised leaders' debate.

They're the first party to do so in a month-long election campaign, with 10 days left until voting day and three days until advance polls open.

The platform, although comprehensive — listing dozens of pledges — doesn't include budgets or cost projections. The party said early in its campaign it would not release a costed platform, citing a lack of auditor general reports they say they need for their accounting.

The Liberals and PCs, meanwhile, have yet to release their respective red and blue books, and confirmed to CBC News on Wednesday afternoon those platforms would not be released before Wednesday's debate.

Earlier in the campaign, both of those parties committed to releasing costed platforms.

Here's a rundown of the NDP's vision.

Big promises to mitigate cost of living

On the affordability front, the NDP are upholding one of their flagship policies: a $15 minimum wage.

That would add nearly three dollars an hour to the current rate of $12.15. The minimum wage was last raised in October, and will get another boost in April, when it hits $12.40. The Liberal government, under Dwight Ball, also scheduled a further raise, to $12.65, in October.

The party also vows to work with the Public Utilities Board on an electricity rate mitigation plan and limit prices to 13 cents per kilowatt-hour, and would reinstate an all-party basic income committee.

Emphasis on health care

The platform rattles off a list of perceived problems in the health-care system: staff shortages, lack of family doctors and privately funded long-term care homes among them.

The party would, it said, bring long-term care into the public domain and implement "recruitment staffing strategies" to fill health-care positions, but did not detail what those strategies would look like.

It also pledges to augment the province's mental health system, which has come under fire during the campaign due to exceedingly long wait times for therapists, by fulfilling the remaining recommendations in the Towards Recovery report, released in 2017.

The Department of Health said it has completed 31 of the 54 recommendations in the report and the remaining 23 are in progress and will be completed by the 2022 deadline.

Jobs, economy in NDP sights

The PCs have built their campaign thus far on job creation, but the NDP haven't backed away from those pledges either, centering them on an anti-austerity philosophy.

The party warns it believes more cuts will drive people away, rather than balancing the books, and instead wants to bring in a labour market committee to scrutinize job growth — a method that mirrors Liberal Leader Andrew Furey's economic recovery team.

The party's resource-heavy list of focus areas includes the fisheries, forestry, aquaculture and mining, as well as more support for tourism operators and artists.

The NDP also says it would eliminate the three per cent small business tax.

Social justice, anti-corruption leanings

Electric cars, high-speed internet and Indigenous-led child care all make the list, as do food security and transportation, particularly in Labrador.

The party says it would complete the Trans-Labrador Highway — a thorn in Labrador's side for years, and a major talking point at last year's Combined Councils meeting — and secure ferry services on the north coast.

The platform also devotes an entire section to what it calls the province's "broken politics," promising to keep public-private partnerships accountable and "repair" the corporate tax system.

It stopped short, however, of pledging to raise the corporate tax rate.

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