Canada election: Complete list of health care promises made during the 2021 campaign

Here’s a running list of the health care promises that Justin Trudeau, Erin O’Toole, Annamie Paul, Jagmeet Singh, and Yves-Francois Blanchet have made from the time the campaign starts to election day:

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Conservative Promises

Aug. 16: The Conservatives released an uncosted platform, containing many promises regarding health care and pandemic response.

  • The Conservatives are promising to prioritize the signing of contracts for COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, to accelerate the development of homegrown vaccines by Canadian companies and to offer logistical support to the provinces to help with vaccine rollout.
  • Under the Conservative plan, all passenger arrivals to Canada will be required to take a COVID-19 rapid test, regardless of vaccine status. They also promise to make rapid tests easily available to Canadians for at-home use.
  • They will also close the border to travel from countries where new COVID-19 variants are detected.
  • They promise to work with pharmaceutical companies to increase the production of critical medicines and active pharmaceutical ingredients in Canada.
  • They promise to overhaul the Federal Emergency Response Stockpile system.
  • They promise to improve contact tracing at the Canadian border.
  • They promise to overhaul federal lab testing procedures to improve the consistency and scalability of lab testing across Canada.
  • They promise to prohibit the export of deadly viruses to foreign jurisdictions that don’t pass a national security assessment.
  • They promise to restore the Global Public Health Intelligence Network, to help detect and assess threats to public health.
  • They promise to overhaul Canada’s Pandemic Plan to expand it beyond influenza. They also promise to give ultimate responsibility for the Public Health Agency of Canada to a physician with front-line experience.
  • They promise to strengthen Health Canada’s ability to rapidly review new innovations like tests, treatments and vaccines. They also promise to work with the provinces to harmonize intensive care unit training so that qualified personnel can work in different jurisdictions during emergencies.
  • Within the first 100 days of taking office, the Conservatives say they will meet with provinces to come to a new agreement on the Canada Health Transfer to raise its annual growth rate to at least six per cent. They will also propose that the provinces dedicate a significant part of that money to improving mental health care.
  • They also promise to create a tax credit for employers to encourage them to add mental health coverage to their benefits plans.
  • They also propose to create a national three-digit suicide prevention help line.
  • The Conservatives promise to invest $150 million over three years to create 1,000 residential drug treatment beds and build 50 recovery community centres across the country.
  • On Medical Assistance in Dying, the Conservatives promise to restore a 10-day waiting period and the requirement for two fully independent witnesses to be present. They also want to reverse recently added provisions under Bill C-7 that allowed people whose only medical condition was mental illness to seek it.

Aug. 22: During a campaign stop in Vancouver, Erin O’Toole said the Conservatives would continue to allow supervised consumption sites.

Aug. 25: As part of a broader $60-billion pledge for more health transfers over the next decade, O’Toole says that if elected, his government will transfer enough funds to provinces for an additional one million Canadians to access mental health treatment each year. He also says his Canada Mental Health Action Plan would provide employers a 25 per cent tax credit for three years to encourage them to offer employees mental-health coverage.

Sept. 3: O’Toole promises to create a national system to prove Canadian residents as having been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Sept. 4: O’Toole pledged to cover the cost of time off for employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot, free transportation to vaccine clinics and a national booster shot strategy that would initially target seniors and the immunocompromised.

He also pledged to:

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  • Resume national public health briefings.
  • Ensure political parties and campaigns follow all national, provincial and local public health restrictions.
  • Get vaccination rates over 90 per cent in two months.
  • Invite provinces to participate in a national proof-of-vaccination system.
  • Provide more rapid tests to provincial governments.

Liberal Promises

The party is promising $100 million to improve air quality in schools and $70 million to not-for-profits, charities and Indigenous communities to improve ventilation through the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative.

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Aug. 18: Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau doubled down on a plan for mandatory vaccination requirements to board a plane, train or cruise ship. “Unless people have a medical exception, they will not be able to board a plane or a train in Canada if they are unvaccinated,” he said.

Aug. 19: Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau promised to train up to 25,000 new personal support workers and guarantee them a minimum wage of at least $25 per hour.

Aug. 19: Trudeau also promised that a Liberal government would give provinces and territories $3 billion to improve the quality and availability of long-term care beds, and develop a Safe Long Term Care Act to ensure standards are upheld across the country.

Aug. 20: Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau promised 10 days of paid sick leave for workers in federally regulated industries, if elected.

Aug. 23: Trudeau says that if re-elected, his government will immediately invest $6 billion in addition to the $4 billion committed in the spring budget to help eliminate wait-lists. He also says a Liberal government will spend $3 billion over four years to help hire 7,500 family doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners. The Liberals also promise to provide $400 million over four years to expand virtual health services.

Aug. 27: Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau pledged to create a $1-billion fund for provinces that choose to implement vaccine passport systems for non-essential businesses. The money will be available on a per-capita basis only to provinces that implement this kind of program.

  • Trudeau also said his government would invest $100 million into studying the long-term effects of COVID-19.

Aug. 31: Trudeau says that if re-elected, he will give provinces and territories $4.5 billion over five years in funding for mental health that will be delivered through a new, permanent mental health transfer.

Sept. 1: The Liberals release a platform document with several health-related promises, many of which were announced already earlier in the campaign.

New items include:

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  • Establishing regulations under the Canada Health Act governing accessibility for sexual and reproductive health services, and removing charitable status from anti-abortion organizations who provide “dishonest counselling” to women.
  • Providing $400 million over four years to help expand virtual care.
  • Expanding student loan forgiveness programs for health-care workers who choose to work in rural areas, and expanding the kinds of professionals eligible for the program.
  • Including mental health as an element of occupational health and safety under the Canada Labour Code and requiring federally regulated employers to prevent workplace stress and injury.
  • Investing $500 million to help provinces establish better substance use treatment programs.

Sept 13: Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau pledges to criminalize blocking access to buildings that provide healthcare. That would extend to hospitals, clinics, abortion clinics, pharmacies and testing centres.

NDP Promises

Aug. 19: The NDP released an uncosted platform that comprised promises about access to better health care and food.

  • The party is promising to invest in health care and expand it to include pharmacare, which would give coverage to everyone. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the party will partner and work together with any province and territory that wants to invest in health care.
  • Singh said, if elected, an NDP government would create a $250 million Critical Shortages Fund to address the shortage of nurses and health care workers across the country.
  • The party would ensure that provinces also commit funding “specifically for health care workers.” The federal fund would help train and hire 2,000 nurses, Singh said.
  • The NDP promise to “tackle homelessness, fight poverty,” and to make sure that everyone in the country has access to healthy, affordable food.

Aug. 24: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh promised an end to for-profit long-term care homes and committed to a “care guarantee,” which would put in place standards for long-term care, a living wage for workers in these facilities and “safe, dignified care” for residents.

Aug. 27: Singh promises that an NDP government will implement a universal pharmacare program within one year.

Sept. 3: Singh says he will respond to the Quebec government’s call for an increase to health transfers and give Quebec the right to opt out of federal programs with compensation.

Sept. 4: Singh promises to implement a national dental care system, which would provide coverage to families earning less than $90,000.

Sept. 5: The NDP promised to commit $1 billion in targeted supports to ramp up vaccination programs, to quickly implement a national vaccine passport and to extend pandemic supports.

Green Party Promises

Aug. 18: Green Leader Annamie Paul released her vision for Canada, which included major reforms and changes to health care in the country, such as universal Pharmacare and child care.

  • The Greens also promised a major overhaul of the country’s long-term care home system, whose residents were devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sept. 7: The Green Party released its full platform, with many specific promises on health care and pandemic recovery. These include:

  • Fully funding a universal pharmacare program, to be launched in 2022 with a list of essential medicines to be expanded later
  • Creating a bulk drug purchasing agency and reducing drug patent protection periods
  • Expand Medicare by creating a free dental care program for low-income Canadians, with the goal of eventually expanding it to a free basic dental care program for all Canadians, regardless of income
  • Bring long-term care under the Canada Health Act and create enforceable national standards for LTC
  • Improve training, pay and benefits for long-term care workers
  • Increase investment in community and home-based care
  • End for-profit long-term care homes
  • Declare the overdose crisis a national emergency
  • Decriminalize possession of illicit drugs for personal use
  • Create a national safe supply of drugs of choice
  • Establish a national mental health strategy and suicide prevention strategy
  • Increase investments in Indigenous-led mental health
  • Invest in youth mental health
  • Invest in community supportive housing for those with severe or chronic mental health issues
  • Order a public inquiry into Canada’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Ensure Canada has a robust domestic pharmaceutical production capacity
  • Ensure Canada has a stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Invest in Canada’s research and production of vaccines
  • Accelerate Canada’s move to a net-zero emissions green economy in order to limit further global warming and the intensification of extreme weather events
  • Invest in measures to limit the impact of extreme weather events caused by climate change
  • Halt and reverse biodiversity loss, as a way to reduce further pandemics

Bloc Québécois Promises

Aug. 21: Bloc Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet said that a new Moderna vaccine manufacturing plant would most likely be built in Quebec should voters choose his party over the Liberals.

Aug. 22: Under the Bloc Quebecois platform, Blanchet’s government would increase health transfers to provinces and territories so the federal government covers at least 35 per cent of all health care spending.

  • The party would also increase paid sick leave through employment insurance for people with serious illnesses to from 15 weeks per year to 50.
  • The Bloc wants to increase the Canadian government’s contribution to the World Health Organization.
  • Blanchet is vowing to ensure a percentage of vital personal protective equipment is made in Quebec and in Canada.
  • The party also wants a permanent protocol of COVID-19 testing in place at the border.
  • If elected, the Bloc will institute a program to increase health and safety protocols in workplaces across the country.
  • A Bloc government will also launch an inquest about how the pandemic has been dealt with, with a specific focus on the federal government’s preparedness.

-with files from the Canadian Press


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