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Real Change: What the Liberal Party had to say on key issues

Real Change: What the Liberal Party had to say on key issues

November 3, 2015

On Monday, October 19, 2015, Canadians elected 184 Liberal Members of Parliament, enough to form a majority government headed by Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau.

As the new government gets ready to assume office on November 4, here’s a look at what they had to say in their election platform about issues of interest to the Canadian library and information management community:

Access to Information

We will make government information more accessible.

Government data and information should be open by default, in formats that are modern and easy to use. We will update the Access to Information Act to meet this standard.

We will make it easier for Canadians to access information by eliminating all fees, except for the initial $5 filing fee.

We will expand the role of the Information Commissioner, giving them the power to issue binding orders for disclosure.

We will ensure that Access to Information applies to the Prime Minister’s and Ministers’ Offices, as well as administrative institutions that support Parliament and the courts.

To ensure that the system continues to serve Canadians, we will undertake a full legislative review of the Access to Information Act every five years.

Bill C-51

We will repeal the problematic elements of Bill C-51, and introduce new legislation that better balances our collective security with our rights and freedoms.

Canadians know that in Canada, we can both improve our security while protecting our rights and freedoms.

We will introduce new legislation that will, among other measures:

  • guarantee that all Canadian Security Intelligence Service warrants respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
  • establish an all-party national security oversight committee;
  • ensure that Canadians are not limited from lawful protests and advocacy;
  • require that government review all appeals by Canadians on the no-fly list;
  • narrow overly broad definitions, such as defining “terrorist propaganda” more clearly;
  • limit Communications Security Establishment’s powers by requiring a warrant to engage in the surveillance of Canadians;
  • require a statutory review of the full Anti-Terrorism Act after three years; and
  • prioritize community outreach and counter-radicalization, by creating the Office of the Community Outreach and Counter-radicalization Coordinator.

As this legislation is tabled in Parliament, we will launch broad public consultations, to engage and seek the input of Canadians and subject-matter experts.

CBC/Radio-Canada

We will reverse Stephen Harper’s cuts and make new investments to support our national broadcaster.

As the anchor to our cultural and creative industries, CBC/Radio-Canada is a vital national institution that brings Canadians together, promotes and defends our two official languages, and supports our shared culture.

By severely cutting its budget, Stephen Harper has jeopardized our national broadcaster’s ability to do this important work.

We will protect the interests of our national broadcaster, in the interests of all Canadians. We will reverse Stephen Harper’s cuts and invest $150 million in new annual funding for CBC/Radio-Canada, to be delivered in consultation with the broadcaster and the Canadian cultural community.

We will review the process by which members are appointed to the CBC/Radio-Canada Board of Directors, to ensure merit-based and independent appointments.

Census

We will restore the long-form census.

Without accurate and reliable data, Canada’s communities cannot plan ahead. Everything from transit planning to housing strategies to support for new Canadians becomes more difficult.

We will immediately restore the mandatory long-form census, to give communities the information they need to best serve Canadians.

Cultural and Creative Industries

We will invest in our cultural and creative industries to create jobs and grow the middle class, and to strengthen our rich Canadian identity.

Canada’s cultural and creative industries are a vibrant part of our national identity and our economy, providing employment to more than one million Canadians.

Unfortunately, these industries have been under attack during the Harper decade, hit by funding cuts that have made it harder for Canadian artists to share Canadian stories, here in Canada and around the world.

We will invest in our cultural and creative industries to help support and grow these nation-building efforts.

Targeted investments will include:

  • doubling investment in the Canada Council for the Arts to $360 million each year;
  • increasing funding for Telefilm Canada and the National Film Board, with a new investment totalling $25 million each year; and
  • restoring the Promart and Trade Routes international cultural promotion programs cut by Stephen Harper, and increasing funding in these programs to $25 milllion each year.

As part of our commitment to create 40,000 youth jobs each year, we will increase funding for the Young Canada Works program to help prepare the next generation of Canadians working in the heritage sector.

We will also make significant new investments in cultural infrastructure as part of our investment in social infrastructure.

Evidence-Based Decision-Making

We will make decisions using the best data available and will invest only in programs proven to offer good value.

Responsible governments rely on sound data to make their decisions. We will release to the public key information that informs the decisions we make.

We will devote a fixed percentage of program funds to experimenting with new approaches to existing problems. We will measure our results and encourage innovation to continuously improve the services government provides to Canadians.

We will use accurate data to make good decisions. We will stop funding initiatives that are no longer effective and invest program dollars in those that are of good value.

First Nations Education

We will work with First Nations to make sure that every First Nations child receives a quality education.

It is vital to Canadians’ shared success that we work together to ensure better economic outcomes for First Nations. This starts with education.

Chronic underfunding of the First Nations education system has held First Nations students back: they are behind provincial peers in reading, writing, and numeracy. Today, less than half of students on reserves graduate from high school.

To help close the funding gap and improve outcomes for First Nations students, we will invest new funding each year in core funding for kindergarten through grade 12 programs. This will include money committed by Stephen Harper that has yet to flow, plus an additional $300 million per year in incremental funding, totalling $750 million per year by the end of our first mandate. Over the next four years, this represents a $2.6 billion new investment in helping First Nations students learn and succeed.

We will provide new funding to help Indigenous communities promote and preserve Indigenous languages and cultures.

We will also invest an additional $500 million over the next three years for building and refurbishing First Nations schools.

We will invest $50 million in additional annual funding to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, which supports Indigenous students attending post-secondary education, ensuring the program will keep up with
growing demand.

Infrastructure (Lapsed Funds)

We will make sure that no money intended for investment in communities is allowed to lapse.

Too often, Stephen Harper budgeted funds for use in our communities, then let those dollars go unspent. We will make sure our communities are not shortchanged.

Near the end of the fiscal year, we will automatically transfer any uncommitted federal infrastructure funds to municipalities, through a temporary top-up of the Gas Tax Fund. This will ensure that no committed infrastructure money is allowed to lapse, but is instead always invested in our communities.

Infrastructure (New Building Canada Fund)

We will make the New Building Canada Fund more focused and more transparent.

The New Building Canada Fund is an important source of infrastructure funding for Canadian communities, but it has been hit by dramatic cuts and is heavily back-loaded, with more than 70% of its funding locked away until after 2019.

We will make the New Building Canada Fund more focused. By providing significant, separate investments in public transit, social infrastructure and green infrastructure, we will enable the New Building Canada Fund to make greater investments in Canada’s roads, bridges, transportation corridors, ports and border gateways, helping Canada’s manufacturers get their goods to market.

We will also make the fund more transparent, by providing clearer project criteria, alongside faster approval processes.

Online Services

We will deliver easy online access to government services.

Accessing government services online should be easier. We will make the process easier and faster through individualized, secure accounts for Canadians who want to access their benefits and review key documents.

We will also create a single online point-of-contact for all government services, and work with the provinces and territories on ways to combine online access.

As we expand online services, we will also expand in-person service, such as reopening the nine veterans’ service centres closed by Stephen Harper.

Finally, we will work with the Privacy Commissioner as we develop these new initiatives, to ensure that Canadians’ data is kept safe and secure.

Open Data

We will embrace open data.

We will accelerate and expand open data initiatives, and will make government data available digitally, so that Canadians can easily access and use it.

Personal Information

We will make it easier for Canadians to access their own personal information.

Canadians have a right to access their personal information held by the government.

To make accessing this information faster, less complicated, and more affordable, we will create a simple, central, no-fee website for personal information requests.

We will back this up with a 30-day guarantee: should a request take longer than 30 days to fulfill, government must provide a written explanation for the delay to the applicant and the Privacy Commissioner.

Post-Secondary Education

We will make post-secondary education more affordable.

For too many Canadians, rising costs have made post-secondary education increasingly out of reach.

It is harder and harder for middle class families to save for their kids’ education, while many lower-income families are not able to save at all. At the same time, the federal government spends billions each year on non-refundable tax credits that offer little direct help for students when they need it.

We will provide direct help to students from low- and middle-income families to help them pay for their education and ensure that debt loads are manageable. We will increase the maximum Canada Student Grant for low-income students to $3,000 per year for full-time students, and to $1,800 per year for part-time students.

In addition, to help more students from middle class families qualify for Canada Student Grants, we will increase the income thresholds for eligibility, giving more Canadian students access to even larger grants. This investment will be funded by cancelling the poorly targeted education and textbook tax credits. The tuition tax credit will be maintained.

This will increase the level of non-repayable grant assistance to students by $750 million per year, rising to $850 million per year by 2019/20.

We will also make our student loan system more flexible. We will ensure that no graduate with student loans will be required to make any repayment until they are earning an income of at least $25,000 per year.

This will be done by changing the income thresholds in the Repayment Assistance Plan for recent graduates. The federal government will continue to pay the interest on student loans until graduates begin to earn sufficient incomes to take over their own payments and repay their own loans.

We will work with provinces and territories to ensure that they do not assume any additional costs, and to make sure these investments go directly to students. Appropriate compensation will be offered to provinces and territories that do not participate in the Canada Student Loan program.

We will also work collaboratively with provinces and territories to improve promotion of RESPs and Canada Learning Bonds, and to make registration simpler for all families.

We will invest $50 million in additional annual support to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, which supports Indigenous students attending post-secondary education, and will allow the program to grow in line with increasing demand.

School Supplies

We will introduce a new tax benefit to help teachers and early childhood educators with the cost of school supplies.

Teachers and early childhood educators work hard to provide a positive learning environment for our children, often paying out-of-pocket for classroom supplies. It is a generous gesture that is not currently recognized by our federal tax system.

To help offset these costs, we will introduce a new Teacher and Early Childhood Educator School Supply Tax Benefit. This new benefit will apply to the purchase of up to $1,000 worth of school supplies each year, providing a cash benefit of up to $150 each year for licensed and certified teachers and educators, starting in the 2015 tax year.

Because this benefit will operate as a refundable tax credit, all educators who have purchased educational materials qualify, regardless of their income level.

Science and Scientists

We will value science and treat scientists with respect.

We will appoint a Chief Science Officer who will ensure that government science is fully available to the public, that scientists are able to speak freely about their work, and that scientific analyses are considered when the government makes decisions.

Statistics Canada

We will make Statistics Canada fully independent.

Data collected by Statistics Canada helps the private sector, government, not-for profit groups, and researchers make better decisions.

We will make Statistics Canada fully independent. We will work with Statistics Canada and other stakeholders to provide a broader range of information, including detailed labour market information, child development data, and statistics about our population.

Truth and Reconciliation

We will enact the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

To support the work of reconciliation, and continue the necessary process of truth telling and healing, we will work alongside provinces and territories, and with First Nations, the Métis Nation, and Inuit, to enact the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, starting with the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Your Voice

We will involve Canadians in policy-making.

Technology makes it easier for citizens and government to share ideas and information.

We will explore new ways to use technology to crowdsource policy ideas from citizens.

 

The full Liberal Party platform can be found at http://www.liberal.ca/realchange/

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