Critical work lays ahead for Commons, Legislature

Queen’s Park is back and Parliament is returning too.

Now the critical work of building back better, despite this pandemic, truly begins.

At the federal level, a first step would be the immediate implementation of its promised $15 an hour minimum wage.

Followed closely by an overdue expansion of public childcare, implementing pharmacare, making good on affordable housing for all, and assuring a guaranteed basic income for Canadians.

High-speed broadband access to all Canadians, in particular to remote and rural communities, is also more critical than ever.

On pharmacare, even before COVID19, 3 million Canadians were already dealing with inadequate coverage or no coverage at all. And Canada is the only country in the world with universal healthcare that doesn’t also have universal pharmacare.

How to pay for these vital social investments?

First, now is the time for federal and provincial governments to establish full trade liberalization within Canada. This would increase Gross Domestic Product per capita by 4 per cent, which would be a huge boost in these plagued recessionary times.

Second, the Bank of Canada’s mandate should be reformed to include the pursuit of maximum levels of employment or full employment… if Australia, New Zealand, and even the U.S., can adopt such a central bank “jobs policy” then certainly we can as well.

Third, crackdown on the $380 billion that huge corporations have stashed in offshore tax havens.

And fourth, speaking of pharmacare, Canadians would save $5 billion in the first year alone by having a single entity negotiating with drug companies…. not to mention the billions of dollars in savings through fewer visits to emergency rooms and crisis hospitalizations per year. These things are humane, possible, and critical for our economy going forward.

Let’s hope our senior levels of government can get the job done.

Bill Roberts