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Should Canada’s Liberal Party be Worried?


At a time when scorching hot inflation and labour shortages are gripping the Canadian - and indeed the global economy - by its throat. Coupled with historic high wait times for healthcare and a shortage of healthcare workers, a housing crisis that has plagued the country for years and years, and environmental degradation in Canada and elsewhere through an increased number of wildfires, water pollution, and deforestation, among many other things.


Should the Liberal Party of Canada—the supposed “naturally governing party”—be worrying about its election prospects in the next election? Some of us may be quick to judge that the Liberals are on a downward slope, while others think the Liberals will cruise to the government until some scandal down the line botches the Liberals in the polls. Nobody can predict if the Liberals will win, but it’s quite reasonable to say that they have a good shot at winning again in 2025.


Current polls showcase the following issues that Canadians are most concerned with according to a new Nanos poll: inflation (16%), healthcare (13%), jobs/economy (12%), environment (11%), housing (5%). Inflation being at the forefront of what Canadians are most worried about makes perfect sense, globally inflationary pressures from battered supply chain networks, government spending, increased demand, agricultural shortages, labour shortages, and major political events have lowered market confidence overall.


However, it is interesting to note that healthcare beats the jobs/economy issue and is trailing behind inflation by only 3%. If that’s a sign for the Liberal Party, it's to bring meaningful change that is, in fact, under the control. With inflation, the federal government can’t do much outside of increasing existing transfer payments like the Canada Child Benefit, Pensions, Old Age Security, and introducing new benefits like the Canada Disability Benefit (which the Liberals are tabling soon). Most of these measures have already been implemented by Deputy Prime Minister Freeland’s recent inflation package.


Other measures like the $10 a day child care program are already seeing progress in numerous provinces saving families hundreds or thousands of dollars in daycare fees (while some provinces are lagging, e.g., Ontario). We have provincial governments like Alberta and Ontario cutting provincial taxes at the pump to reduce some strain on people. Long-term investments in green technology like battery plants in Ontario and Nova Scotia are also being made to reduce our gross dependency on gas-fueled vehicles.


Overall, provincial and federal governments have done a decent job at addressing the cost of living with some tools they have. But of course, they've not used tools that affect the top-line of society, that is, increased taxation and regulation on mega-corporations.


Healthcare


Let’s face it, Canadian healthcare has been in shambles for a long, long time. The cracks of an already broken system were apparent before the pandemic with long-wait times, poor service, limited access to healthcare, and a shortage of healthcare workers. The pandemic stressed these factors to an insane degree like never seen in our nation’s modern history. The aftermath is what we’re dealing with, an absolute storm of Canadian healthcare workers quitting altogether due to burnout, even poorer quality of service due to a lack of workers, increased numbers of patients with mental health issues, delays, and cancellations of non-elective and elective surgeries, and much more. If there is ever a time to invest in Canadian healthcare. The time is now. The federal and provincial governments in tandem must work together to solve and transform our healthcare system for the better.


Starting with hiring more doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers across the country from individuals who do have credentials but cannot work in our hospitals and clinics due to their foreign competencies. Streamline the process to make one universal and national licensing process to make healthcare credentials equivalent across the country. Immigrants with foreign credentials should go through a similar licensing process, but perhaps with extra criteria for them to complete as a way to show their compatibility with Canadian healthcare standards and procedures.


The federal government needs to commit to new money that’ll specifically go towards parts of our healthcare system that are currently severely lacking: dental care, mental healthcare, healthcare access for rural and Indigenous communities, funds for hospitals and clinics, emergency care infrastructure, increased wages for healthcare workers, etc. Anything that makes our healthcare system more resilient and consistent in its outcomes. There needs to be goals, funding and results from any plan that the federal government employs. And most importantly, all of this must consider the long-term stability of our healthcare system. To make sure that no future health crises can so detrimentally rattle our healthcare system to the point of ruin.




Jobs/Economy


Wages, working conditions, and jobs that provide dignified solidarity to individuals are the king-maker for a strong economy that focuses on labour. In my estimation, high wages for average working-class people are only possible with unions, without a checking balance against corporations and businesses that seek to lower wages to save a couple of pennies on expenses; unions are a must. Working conditions likewise can only be demanded once unions have the power to demand employers that workers deserve better work and better livelihoods in their work.


Regarding jobs, jobs that people are proud of. Unionization is the only way to guarantee such a reality. Rail strikers in the UK have showcased their ability to organize and strike when governments aren’t able to provide them with adequate working conditions and pay. Dignity in our work cannot be sought individually, the only way to improve our dignity is to collectively organize and demand our rights.


Even though unemployment in Canada is at record historic lows, workers are taking pay cuts because the cost of living is increasing faster than our wages are rising. Low unemployment levels in our economies are not the solution to better pay, as we’ve all learned this past year. The real solution is worker solidarity and class consciousness. The recognition of everyday people, be it labourers or professionals, that the only way to improve our material and psychological conditions is through collective recognition of our common demands to live better lives. Otherwise, we will only further fall towards an era where workers become disposable numbers.




Environment


Here’s a blunt statement: mother Earth does not give a damn about your political affiliation. Whether you’re a Liberal, Conservative, Socialist, Moderate, or whatever political belief you subscribe to. Mother Earth’s wrath will soon, very soon, ignite an infinite hellfire in front of our eyes lasting for centuries. Humanity’s irresponsible behaviour from decades of oil commodity production, natural resource extraction, deforestation, oceanic pollution, and environmental degradation will be the single greatest threat to humanity by the end of this century. It’s no wonder that Canadians rank the environment so highly on polls for issues our governments need to address. Do you think inflation is bad now? Imagine inflation by the end of this century when oil reserves dry out, agricultural production declines due to environmental pressures from droughts/heavy precipitation/blistering heat, climate migrations, infrastructure failures, flooding from sea level rise, and increased natural disasters. The future is looking grimmer for humanity than hopeful.


According to the US National Climate Assessment, the most comprehensive climate report created by experts and US Climate Committees states that on our current trajectory. US temperature increases could range anywhere from 3 degrees Celsius to 6 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. With the increase in temperature being closer to the latter than the former. Canada, Europe, and the rest of the world will also see such temperature increases. The Southern Hemisphere (aka developing countries) is the greater victim of climate change than the Northern Hemisphere (aka developed countries).


Here’s the reality. Governments without a plan to tackle their country’s climate impact have a moral obligation to do so for the world. Not doing so is otherwise criminally negligent behaviour that will, unfortunately, impact millions of people all over the world (if not already impacting them). Of course, most of the effects of climate change will be devastating to people’s communities, their cities, their lives, their jobs, their families, their food, their health, their homes, and virtually everything in their lives.




The Liberals have a responsibility to ensure that climate targets are met, including the ones where cutting emissions by 40% by 2030 and achieving net zero by 2050. They should keep our air, water, and land clean where they can impose strict restrictions on who gets to access these areas in our country. They must electrify our transportation methods as well as make our cities less dependent on fossil fuels for functioning. Furthermore, they should restore our deforested environments and protect the habits and animals that we have left.


Housing


The world faces a global housing crisis, not just Canada. Housing shortages and homelessness are global phenomena. And unfortunately, rather than considering housing as a fundamental need that all humans require, we instead consider housing to be an investment. The logic is absurd, housing—that is shelter that people need to live—is considered to be an appreciating asset in our current economic system. We don’t home people based on their needs, we consider homes to be an asset to owners and tenants. Housing is just another aspect of our society that is a commodity rather than considered to be a fundamental need.


Assuming we want to stay on this track of promoting homeownership, it’s not a surprise to anyone that housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable for those who don’t already own houses. Young people and low-income Canadians are the most affected by a lack of homeownership. I, much like many others, have experienced feelings of jealousy when I see other families purchases a home with equity they already own from when home prices were more reasonable. Thereby making hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions during the process of selling and purchasing. And as much as having a lot of equity funds is nice, it’s important to have the interests of the entire society. The concept of owning a home in itself is already a selfish idea that has further been clouded as people know they can make a butt load of money in this market.




Rather than allocating homes based on need as well as for social progress. Homes are built, owned, and sold for profit. Why can’t homes be treated as a utility, or better yet, a public service? Surely most Canadians would agree that a home is a necessity to live in any society. If that’s the case, then why can’t this premise be used to form public outcomes that provide service to all? The answer is simple, there are excessively many middlemen in the process of constructing (both physically and legally) a home that has an interest in profiting.


To wrap this back to the Liberals, the Liberals aren’t going to do anything notable regarding housing. No party in this country has an interest in doing so because the vast majority of Canadians (70%) are homeowners. Canada has among the highest homeownership rates in the world, any establishment federal party—be it Liberal or Conservative—will not touch the issue otherwise risking the 70% of Canadians enjoying the rise in their equity to vote against the party that wishes to do so. Some initiatives like the ‘Rapid Housing Initiative’ that has built some 10,000 permanent affordable units for vulnerable Canadians across the country need to be replicated at a wider and deeper level. The number of affordable units built needs to be in the hundreds of thousands per year and has to be built in targeted locations to pressure down the prices of neighbouring homes. 


Just to give scale as to how many homes we need to build, the housing task force in Ontario has stated that their 55 recommendations will enable the construction of 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years that will “end the province’s housing crisis”. Since Ontario represents about 40% of Canada’s population, doing a little math will give approximately 2.4 million new homes having to be built over the next ten years for the housing crisis to be addressed (obviously the math is more complicated, I’m just giving a general statistic using what’s available in Ontario).


Electability


Now should the Liberal Party be worried? If they keep ignoring the problems that Canadians care about, then perhaps they should reevaluate their priorities and implement policies based on what Canadians are increasingly caring about. Address the major issues in this country, and I bet you that the Liberals can get elected once again. It’s just a matter of getting tangible policies done that benefits Canadians: e.g., healthcare investments, pharmacies, environmental investments, housing initiatives, and addressing the cost of living. If some of these big-ticket items are checked off by the Liberals by the end of 2025, then I see no reason as to why they wouldn’t win again.



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