Well, election day is here and gone. Feels pretty quick, huh? That’s because this snap election felt more like a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” election. After just 36 days of campaigning, Canadians went to the polls, and based on early projections we're pretty much back where we started: with a Liberal minority government. Shortly after 1 a.m. on Sept. 21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave his post-election victory speech. As of 8 a.m., the Liberals were leading or elected in 158 ridings.
The election wasn’t without its hiccups for Trudeau and co., as the Liberal party came out strong but suffered a drop in polling throughout the campaign. As Stéphanie Chouinard, a politics professor at Queen’s University and the Royal Military College of Canada, told Refinery29, the Liberal party’s delay in putting out their platform was initially puzzling, and may have impacted initial polling.
“That's not so unusual in a regular election, but the expectations from Canadians were a bit different this year because a lot of people were wondering why were we having an election in the first place,” Chouinard says.
Considering Trudeau’s whole reasoning for dissolving Parliament was to gauge how Canadians were feeling about the government and their needs heading out of COVID (so he says; experts agree he most likely made the decision to call an election as a bid for a majority government, banking on a rise in popularity due to the Liberal’s handling of the pandemic), “the messaging from the Liberals was a bit muddled at the beginning,” she says. The Liberals eked out a win, but this is actually only the beginning of the work. Because now it’s on the government to actually follow through on their promises (and for us to hold them accountable).
So, what can — and should – we expect from a Liberal minority government? Here's what they have said will happen post-election.
Reconciliation is top of mind
The PM still has a lot to answer for when it comes to the treatment of Indigenous people and communities. The Liberals have fallen short on many of their promises, such as moving forward on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women And Girls national action plan. They are also behind on finishing their work towards ending long-term boil-water advisories; something they said they would do back in 2015. According to Global News, the Liberal government has lifted 109 drinking water advisories since 2015, with 51 long-term drinking water advisories still in effect in 32 communities across the country.
In their 2021 platform, the Liberals have vowed to address racism in health care, after the 2020 death of Joyce Echaquan, who died from neglect after facing racism and lack of care in a Quebec hospital. They plan to implement Joyce’s Principle, which guarantees all Indigenous people the right to all social and health services without any discrimination.
Finally, in light of the uncovering of unmarked graves on the sites of several former residential schools, the government — which previously committed $321 million in new funding towards uncovering burial sites and supporting survivors of residential schools — said this money will be put towards helping communities manage the sites of these institutions, as well as mental health services.
Don't forget that the Liberal government is currently in court in a legal battles with residential school survivors who are rightfully seeking compensation for the harm they endured — and continue to endure — because of those institutions.
Child care will be $10 a day
Child care was a massive issue this election, with many parents, women especially, feeling the strain after over a year WFH. Going into the recent election, the Liberals had already signed agreements with seven provinces and one territory to cut child-care fees by 50% in the next year and implement $10 a day child care in the next five. The Liberals promised to continue their plan to finalize agreements with the remaining provinces, as well as building 250,000 new high-quality daycares and hiring 40,000 more childhood educators.
It’s a program that experts say is ultimately more beneficial than the tax credit the Conservatives proposed, the latter of which may inadvertently exclude lower-income families or those who are unable to pay taxes. “The problem with tax credits [is] it doesn't create new child-care spaces,” Chouinard says. “Which not only creates more pressure on the system, it means that wealthier families will still get access to the best places and it doesn't have any impact on the quality of child-care spaces.”
Addressing the affordable housing crisis
For 75% of Canadians, owning any type of property in this country is entirely out of the question. Because he won’t give us a free house (we’re here waiting!), Trudeau’s next best plan is to target some of the barriers that contribute to the unattainability of home ownership. This includes banning “foreign money” from buying a recreational property in Canada for the next two years (this is unless it’s for future employment or immigration purposes). He also introduced a plan to build or renovate 1.4 million homes and is doubling the home buyers tax credit, which experts say is a start but won’t actually address the fact that home prices keep rising.
(It should be noted that, despite the Liberal government’s plans, a recent study from Generation Squeeze, an organization that advocates on behalf of young adults around issues like housing and employment, found that no political party is proposing to do enough to restore housing affordability for all Canadians).
Greenhouse gas emissions will be cut by 40 to 45% by 2030
The effects of climate change are happening in real time and countries need to move fast. Upping their initial pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030, the party has pledged to cut them by 40 to 45% by the same date, thanks to a national price on carbon. According to some experts, the Liberal party has the most effective and least costly climate change policy out of the four parties.
Job and economic recovery
Post-pandemic, a primary goal of the Liberal government will be to create and fill more jobs. As Chouinard says, “the issue seems to be that a lot of folks in [service] jobs are just not willing to go back to work under the present circumstances. It's not that they don't want to work, [it’s] that they don't want to put their life on the line to serve coffee.” Which is understandable.
Currently, the Liberals plan to address the need for employers to connect with potential employees more easily by addressing the restrictions around recognizing credits for foreign workers (so that people who’ve immigrated from other countries can work in the sectors they previously did in their home country), and implementing a labour strategy that addresses shortages in the agricultural sector.
The RCMP will be overhauled
Canada’s policing system needs an overhaul and the Liberals say they’ll step up to address this. As part of their 2021 platform, they’ve promised to ensure the entity that investigates harassment claims against the RCMP is completely external to the RCMP. They’ve also “committed to an external review of current deescalation training” of the RCMP specifically. (The growing number of Black and brown people killed at the hands of police over the past few years should be an indicator that the current deescalation training clearly isn’t working.)
In the same vein, the government pledged to present a National Action Plan on Combating Hate by 2022.
You’ll finally be able to get a family doctor
If you’ve tried to get a physician the past few years, chances are you’ve been added to a long waiting list or hit with a straight-up: “no.” For a long time now, demand for family physicians has outweighed supply.
But your health shouldn’t be put on hold because getting a doc is as rare as the latest Telfar drop. The Liberals are hoping to address this by providing $3.2 billion to provinces and territories in order to hire 7,500 new family doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners. This includes increasing access in rural communities.
Long-term care will get much-needed support
Over the course of the pandemic, long-term care homes suffered horrific outbreaks and deaths, with many residents not getting the proper care they needed due to understaffing and employee negligence. Recognizing that these facilities and individuals need more support, the government has said it will invest $9 billion over five years to support safer conditions for seniors and improved wages and working conditions for personal support workers.