Hedy Fry: Only Justin Trudeau’s Liberals will invest in Canadians

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      Canada is at a crossroads. After ten years of Stephen Harper, our economy is stalled, we’ve experienced two recessions, and Canadians are finding it harder and harder to get ahead. Harper has the worst economic growth record of any prime minister since R.B. Bennett. 

      Incomes have stagnated under his watch, he has ignored our health care system, and refuses to meet with the premiers (it’s been a decade since a Prime Minister sat down with provincial and territorial leaders). When I ask questions in the House of Commons, his Health Minister delivers carefully scripted talking points—all approved by the PMO.

      On the campaign trail, in town-hall meetings, and in meetings with community groups in my riding of Vancouver Centre, I hear the same themes repeated over and over again: we need affordable housing, reliable public transit, and a health care system that works for all.

      Vancouverites know it’s time for change.

      Sadly, Mr. Mulcair and the NDP have taken a page out of Stephen Harper’s playbook. This election, in a desperate attempt to court voters, Mr. Mulcair has promised more of the same—cuts and austerity. His so-called “national minimum wage” applies only to federally regulated industries like banks, telecom companies, and airlines. Ninety-nine percent of Canadian workers making minimum wage won’t see a dime under Mr. Mulcair’s plan. Experts criticize his childcare plan, which won’t kick in for years and is dependent on the provinces coming to the table with cash—and that’s far from a sure thing. His plan to balance the budget at all costs can mean only one thing: more cuts.

      You can’t be Tommy Douglas on a Stephen Harper budget. 

      We have a better plan. A Liberal government led by Justin Trudeau will invest $125 billion in social infrastructure (including affordable housing, co-op housing, seniors care, child care services, and cultural spaces), green infrastructure, and public transit. We’ll run three years of planned modest deficits in order to kick-start our economy and get our cities moving, borrowing while interest rates are at near-record lows.

      As a physician, and the Liberal Party of Canada’s Critic for Health, I am particularly excited to share our health platform, which Justin announced in Metro Vancouver last week. Last year, he asked me to lead our health platform policy development process; we engaged stakeholders from every sector of the health universe, consulting front-line health care workers, health economists, provincial health leaders, and academics. We heard loud and clear on the need to reform Canada’s health care system, and work more collaboratively with the provinces to ensure Canadians have equal access to quality health care regardless of where they live.

      Justin Trudeau knows the importance of our universal health care system—it’s why he’ll end Harper’s decade-long cold shoulder to the premiers, and do what a prime minister should: collaborate and lead. He has committed to negotiating a new Health Accord with the provinces and territories that includes a long-term agreement on funding to correct the fiscal imbalance in health transfers. We’ll invest $3 billion over the next four years to deliver expanded home care services for Canadians, including increased access to in-home caregivers, financial supports for family care, and, when necessary, palliative care.

      With an aging population, the Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefit doesn’t always provide the kind of support Canadians need when caring for an ill loved one. Our plan will help families care for their loved ones at home, making the Benefit more flexible so it covers chronic illness and more than just end-of-life care.

      We’ll bring down the cost of prescription medications by joining the provinces and territories to purchase drugs in bulk to realize significant cost savings. Providing increased access to high-quality mental health services will also be a priority. Finally, we will launch a comprehensive federal gender violence strategy. No one fleeing domestic violence—overwhelmingly women—should be without a place to turn.

      I invite you to read our full platform at RealChange.ca. Compare it to Mr. Mulcair’s plan. This election is a clear choice between cuts and investment, between austerity and growth. It’s time to get Canada back on track after Harper’s lost decade.

      I believe this is the most important election in a generation, and I’m asking for your vote so we can defeat Stephen Harper and his narrow-minded ideology. Canadians deserve better.

      Dr. Hedy Fry is the Liberal Party of Canada’s candidate for Vancouver Centre and the Liberal Party of Canada’s Critic for Health. A family physician, she practiced medicine in Vancouver’s West End for 20 years before entering politics in 1993 when she defeated Conservative Prime Minister Kim Campbell. Twitter: @HedyFry