Singh wants to see paid sick leave, vaccine passport from minority Liberal government

·4 min read
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh takes part in a post-election news conference. Singh outlined his priorities for the new Parliament Thursday, calling on the Liberal minority government to commit to a range of measures on the COVID-19 pandemic. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press - image credit)
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh takes part in a post-election news conference. Singh outlined his priorities for the new Parliament Thursday, calling on the Liberal minority government to commit to a range of measures on the COVID-19 pandemic. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press - image credit)

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh says he wants to see the government take "concrete, immediate" steps on a range of issues — from pandemic supports to climate change to reconciliation — in order to secure NDP support in the next Parliament.

At a news conference in Ottawa today, Singh outlined a list of NDP priorities that includes paid sick leave and a federal vaccine passport.

"We believe strongly in a federal vaccine passport, a document that can be used for interprovincial travel, to travel domestically, and something that would allow people to have proof that can be used everywhere in Canada," Singh said.

WATCH | NDP leader is asked how and when he would support the Liberal minority government

"That was something that was floated in the past. Mr. Trudeau talked about it but has not yet done it. So we're saying, 'Let's see some action on these things.'"

The NDP won 25 seats in the 2021 federal election, boosting its caucus by a single seat. But because the Liberals did not win a majority of seats, the NDP will have significant influence in the minority Parliament.

NDP MPs gathered for a caucus meeting Wednesday and discussed the party's priorities for the next Parliament.

Along with measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Singh said he wants to see the Liberal government take more action on climate change and Indigenous reconciliation.

He cited a court case between the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, the Assembly of First Nations and the federal government over underfunding and inequity in the child welfare system.

A federal judge recently dismissed an application for a judicial review from the federal government over a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal order which left Ottawa on the hook for billions of dollars in compensation related to the child welfare system.

Singh called on the government to terminate the case.

"One immediate, concrete step, something that could happen right now, is Mr. Trudeau could finally stop the court case against Indigenous children," he said. "There's been ruling after ruling from the Canadian human rights tribunal, and now another decision in the courts that said ... there's no ground to appeal it, so stop the legal battles.

"That would be another sign that this Liberal government is interested in working with us, and it would signal to us interest in working together."

He said the Liberals have not yet reached out to the NDP to discuss shared priorities.

"They haven't signaled that they want to negotiate or talk so far," he said. "That's fine, I'm not concerned because they know where we stand. We've campaigned on where we stand for the past 36-plus days ... I look forward to them signalling their interest by doing any of these things."

Singh cited the worsening pandemic situation in Alberta and Saskatchewan as he called on the Liberals to maintain robust economic supports, such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy.

"We want to see the supports continue. As I outlined, we're in the worst of it right now. For Alberta and Saskatchewan, this is the worst it's ever been," he said. "It would be irresponsible and wrong to cut the help to people."

Alberta has requested and received assistance from the federal government and the military to help staff its hospitals.

Alberta Health Services
Alberta Health Services

While Singh criticized the governments in those provinces over their handling of the pandemic, he said the federal government needs to step up on health transfers.

The provinces and territories have come together to demand an increase in the share of health care spending covered by the federal government.

Singh reflects on the campaign

Although the NDP increased its seat total in the federal election, it was an underwhelming result for a party that was looking for a breakthrough.

Singh said that while he was proud of the campaign, he's disappointed the party didn't send more new faces to Parliament.

WATCH | Following a caucus meeting, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he's proud of the campaign he ran

"One of the things that we've identified we need to do more work is on the ground," he said. "There's a lot of races where we were very, very close ... so that's part of the analysis that we'll be doing to get more details around what we can do to improve that."

The party announced it will conduct a review of the campaign led by political adviser Bob Dewar.

Singh and NDP brass have been accused internally of promoting his profile at the expense of local candidates in the election.

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