What you need to know about the NDP’s platform

Amended at 5:30 p.m. ET Friday, Oct. 9 to clarify that Mulcair has said he’d unilaterally stop appointing Senators, not that he’d unilaterally abolish the Senate.

NDP leader Tom Mulcair unveiled his party’s full platform in Montreal Friday as he attempted to shore up slipping support for his party and position himself as the only person who can really defeat Conservative leader Stephen Harper.

ADVANCE VOTING: How, where and when this long weekend

So what’s actually in the plan?

Browse by topic:


Story continues below advertisement


The promise: $15-a-day child care for everyone.

The fine print: It’ll take a while but he’s pledged one million spaces by 2023, according to the platform. And it’ll require the co-operation of the provinces.

READ MORE: How much does child care actually cost?

WATCH: Mulcair announces plans for national pharmacare program


The promise: A universal pharmacare program.

The fine print: This would also require provincial cooperation. And while health advocates argue this is badly needed and fiscally prudent in the long run, it would probably cost a lot more than the $2.6 billion over four years that Mulcair has pledged.

The promise: Revert to the previous formula for federal health transfers to provinces. (Health transfers keep growing under the new formula, but they grow more slowly.)

The fine print: It sounds boring, but it means big bucks — billions more over several years, potentially. The NDP wants to use that money toward its many health care promises, including:

  • 200 new clinics
  • 7,000 new health professionals
  • Expanding home care for seniors

It isn’t clear whether the cash would be tied to expectations the provinces spend it the way the NDP wants them to.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Your election questions – health care, child care and the supersized campaign

The promise: Ensure all provinces make abortions accessible to women who need them.

The fine print: Canada’s unequal abortion access has been an issue for ages. But doing this would probably mean taking on provincial governments in the Maritimes.

The promise: Improved care for federal inmates with mental illness.

The fine print: Canada’s prisons are overwhelmed by mental illness and the feds face a class action lawsuit alleging “cruel and unusual” treatment. But it’s tough to establish effective health care in correctional facilities.

INVESTIGATION: Death Behind Bars

WATCH: NDP leader Tom Mulcair casts his vote for the federal election at an advanced poll station.

Democratic reform

The promise: Bring in a system of mixed-member proportional representation in their first mandate.

The fine print: That’s a big promise. Would it include a referendum? What if the referendum fails, as others have in the past? Would the provinces have a say?

READ MORE: What are Canada’s electoral reform options, and how might they work? 

The promise: Work with provinces to abolish the Senate.

The fine print: Mulcair has said for years he wants to abolish the Senate. But constitutionally, he needs the provinces on board. In the meantime he’s vowed not to appoint any new Senators, which Harper is also promising to do and which experts say is probably unconstitutional.

The promise: Eliminate all access-to-information fees, except the $5 filing fee.

The fine print: The Liberals have also promised this.

The promise: Create a Parliamentary Science Officer and make the Parliamentary Budget Officer more independent.

The fine print: Parties usually like oversight a lot more before they’re in power. (See: 2006 Conservatives)

The promise: Restore the long-form census.

The fine print: It’d be tough to do this before the 2016 census. And even if you could, would longitudinal data-collection have to start over from scratch, given the missed period? (This is actually a big deal for researchers, planners and public health officials.)

NATIONAL HOUSEHOLD SURVEY: What we know about what we don’t know


The promise: Reform EI, reduce the minimum number of hours you need to qualify and make eligibility “fairer in recognition of the changing nature of work.”

The fine print: Canadians have vastly different access to EI depending where they live. It isn’t clear what this reform would do to change that.

What you need to know about the NDP’s platform - image

READ MORE: Federal election economy cheat sheet

The promise: Build on Automotive Innovation Fund and Auto Suppliers Innovation Fund.

The fine print: The Conservatives would do about the same thing. Economists have argued giving companies cash isn’t always the best way to create jobs.

READ MORE: But seriously, can governments create jobs?

The promise: Reform Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker program, which has come under fire for worker abuses and its rapid expansion, which some argue creates a disincentive to paying Canadian workers a fair wage.

The fine print: It isn’t clear what they’d change or how they’d measure whether the program “is meeting its goals.”

READ MORE: Who hires temporary foreign workers? You’d be surprised

Money and Taxes

The promise: Cancel doubled TFSA limits and income-splitting for parents of young children.

The fine print: The Parliamentary Budget Officer has found both of these measures would disproportionately benefit the wealthiest Canadians.

READ MORE: Who benefits from doubling TFSA limits?

The promise: $15 federal minimum wage.

The fine print: This wouldn’t affect the vast majority of minimum wage earners — minimum wages are the provinces’ purview.

READ MORE: 3 charts that show how Mulcair plans to balance the budget

The promise: Increase seniors’ Guaranteed Income Supplement and reduce the retirement age to 65 from 67.

The fine print: This will get expensive as Canada’s population ages.

READ MORE: Canada has more seniors than kids for the first time ever. What does that mean?

The promise: New “Consumer Protection Act” that would:

  • Cap ATM fees and credit card interest rates;
  • Crack down on payday lenders;
  • Crack down on “exorbitant” cell phone roaming fees;
  • Create a “Gasoline Ombudsman” to “investigate complaints about practices in the gasoline market.”

The fine print: Some of these initiatives are already under way. Payday lending is also a primarily provincial jurisdiction.

CHEQUED OUT: Inside Canada’s payday loan cycle

The promise: Hike corporate tax rate from 15 to 17 per cent.

The fine print: This would kick in January, 2016.

The promise: Reduce taxes for small businesses from 11 to 9 per cent.

The fine print: This would kick in over two years.

The promise: Eliminate interest on student loans; add $250 million to Canada Student Grants program.

The fine print: Will be phased in over seven years and four years, respectively.

Story continues below advertisement
What you need to know about the NDP’s platform - image
The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward


The promise: National cap-and-trade of carbon emissions.

The fine print: We still don’t know how this would work or what those emission limits would be.

The promise: $100 million toward renewable energy in northern and remote communities; $150 million toward “green” municipal infrastructure; $200 million toward wastewater infrastructure in smaller communities.

The fine print: Canadian communities struggling to upgrade their often woefully inadequate wastewater treatment facilities face a funding shortfall in the billions of dollars.

READ MORE: How safe is your wastewater? Environment Canada won’t tell you

The promise: Revise environmental assessment of resource projects to provide greater community involvement, consideration of environmental impacts and consultation with First Nations.

The fine print: We still don’t know how this would affect ongoing projects such as Energy East.

PIPELINE POLITICS: What you need to know about oilsands and the election

The promise: $200 million over four years to retrofit “at least: 200,000 homes and apartments, incentivize the creation of 10,000 new affordable and market-rate rental units.

The fine print: It isn’t clear how that incentive would work or how many affordable rental units that would create, or how “affordable” is defined.

What you need to know about the NDP’s platform - image
Muhammed Muheisen/The Canadian Press/AP

Immigration and Refugees

The promise: Lift caps on family-class immigrants, reduce wait times and create an ombudsman for the Department of Citizenship and Immigration.

The fine print: The Immigration and Refugee Board and Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration are supposed to provide oversight and an appeals process. But the Conservatives have taken steps to limit individuals’ avenues of appeal for immigration and refugee decisions.

The promise: Restore Interim Refugee Health Program cuts; bring in 10,000 Syrian refugees by end of 2015 and 9,000 a year afterward. Expedite processing of Syrian refugee applicants.

The fine print: A Canadian federal court has already called the cuts to refugee health “cruel and unusual”; advocates have called for expedited refugee processing and less red tape, but they also argue Canada could do more to bring desperate people here — by facilitating family sponsorship of refugees, for example.

READ MORE: What could Canada actually do to alleviate refugee crisis?

Story continues below advertisement

Aboriginal Canadians

The promise: Call a national inquiry on missing and murdered aboriginal women within first 100 days.

The fine print: While there have been widespread calls for this for years, any inquiry would need to be backed by action to solve existing cases and prevent more women from being killed.

The promise: Implement Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations “on a priority basis established in consultation with provinces, Indigenous communities and others.”

The fine print: It isn’t clear what that “priority basis” would mean or what the time frame would be.

The promise: $1.8 billion over four years toward indigenous education.

The fine print: Canada’s aboriginal funding shortfall has been estimated at a cumulative $3 billion since 1996.


The promise: 2,500 new police officers and $30 million toward local police forces’ guns-and-gang taskforces.

The fine print: Crime is actually down across Canada; one of the primary drivers of increasing police expenditures, after salary increases, is dealing with people in emotional crisis or suffering from mental illness.

The promise: Beef up rail safety, inspections, audits and penalties.

The fine print: Would need specifics on what, exactly, this entails.

The promise: Repeal Bill C-51 and end Canada’s military mission fighting ISIS, working with the international community to stop the flow of arms to terrorists instead.

The fine print: The NDP doesn’t appear inclined to replace C-51 with anything, and it isn’t clear how much international cooperation could do to cut off ISIS’ weapons supply.

READ MORE: New book slams Canada’s anti-terror law

The promise:  Make gender identity and gender expression prohibited grounds for discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act and as a basis for hate crimes in the Criminal Code.

The fine print: This was supposed to happen already, but the Senate blocked that bill.

The promise: Boost Canada’s international aid.

The fine print: The NDP originally promised to increase Canada’s aid to 0.7 per cent of GDP; now it says it will “set a timetable” to meet that goal and increase aid by $500M over four years.

Story continues below advertisement

WATCH: Mulcair says the NDP is still the best party for anyone who wants to unseat the Conservatives

Sponsored content