How the Liberal-NDP agreement will work — and what it might mean for Canadians

Politics

The deal the Liberals have struck with the NDP requires the Liberal government to prioritize a number of policy areas in exchange for the NDP's support.

Photo illustration featuring Justin Trudeau, left, and Jagmeet Singh in Ottawa on March 22, 2022.(Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The "supply-and-confidence" agreement struck between the governing Liberals and the opposition New Democrats could affect the kind of legislation Canadians can expect to see pass through Parliament between now and 2025.

The parties have agreed to work together on key policy areas in situations where both parties want the same "medium term outcome" — while avoiding an early election call.

According to the deal, those key policy areas are climate change, health care spending, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, economic growth and efforts to make life more affordable.

To do this, the parties will need to establish a working relationship that governs how they communicate plans and voting intentions. The Prime Minister's Office published a statement on its website outlining the deal. Here's a look at some key questions.

Is this a coalition government?

No. The NDP does not become part of the Liberal government. New Democrat MPs remain in opposition, they get no seats at the cabinet table and the NDP can walk away from the deal if it feels it no longer serves its interests.

The deal only requires the NDP to vote in support of the government on confidence votes and budgetary matters such as budget implementation legislation and money bills.

The voting commitment stands until Parliament rises in June 2025, allowing the Liberals to present four federal budgets.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Tuesday that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not offer to bring the NDP into the government — and he would have turned down such an offer.

"I want to go into it with the spirit of hopeful optimism but I will remain critical and we're going to remain an opposition party," Singh said Tuesday. "We are going to remain forceful in getting help to people and making sure that this agreement is followed through."

How will the parties work together day by day?

The PMO statement says that in order to make the deal work, the NDP has agreed not to move a vote of non-confidence in government or to vote in favour of one should it be introduced by another party.

The deal says that if a vote in the House has been crafted to "impede the government from functioning," it will declare it a confidence vote while giving the NDP advance notice. Similarly, the NDP promises to inform the Liberal government "before declaring publicly to permit discussions around confidence to take place."

To ensure that parliamentary committees continue to function, the deal states that both parties agree to keep in touch on issues that would "cause unnecessary obstructions to legislation review, studies and work plans at committees."

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, left, and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, take part in the federal election English-language Leaders debate in Gatineau, Que., on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021.(Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The parties also agree to expedite bills through the House of Commons, with the NDP promising to "support a limited number of programming motions to pass legislation that both parties agree to."

To ensure the NDP stays informed, the Liberal government is promising to make public servants available to brief the NDP "in a timely fashion" to give the party enough time to respond before actions are taken.

The parties also have agreed to party leaders meeting every quarter, regular meetings between the House leaders and whips and monthly take-stock meetings presided over by a group of staff and politicians.

Singh said that he will select the NDP MPs and staff members attending those meetings.

What do the two parties want to do?

The NDP and the Liberals have identified seven key areas where they say they will work together. Here's what they've agreed to pursue:

  • A new dental care program that would start with low-income kids under 12 this year before expanding next year to include under-18s, seniors and people living with a disability. The program would be restricted to families earning less than $90,000 with no co-paying requirements for anyone earning less than $70,000.

  • A commitment to work on a "universal national pharmacare program" by passing pharmacare legislation by the end of next year. It would be followed up by tasking the National Drug Agency to recommend essential medicines and a bulk purchasing plan.

  • A commitment to "additional ongoing investments" to shore up provincial health care systems by hiring more doctors, nurses and mental health supports.

  • A Safe Long-Term Care Act to address the funding and policy shortcomings exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • An Early Learning and Child Care Act — to be passed this year — to ensure child care agreements struck between the federal and provincial governments get secure long-term federal funding and are focused on non-profit spaces.

  • More affordable housing, a $500 top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit this year and a "homebuyer's bill of rights."

  • A commitment to phasing out federal government support for the fossil fuel sector — including funding from Crown corporations — starting in 2022.

  • A commitment to finding new "ways to further accelerate the trajectory" to a net zero economy by 2050.

  • A "Clean Jobs Training Centre" to support retraining for energy workers as Canada moves away from fossil fuels.

  • A pledge to implement as soon as possible legislation passed by the Liberals to ensure federally regulated workers get 10 days of paid sick leave every year.

  • The introduction of legislation by the end of next year making it illegal to call in replacement workers when an employer of unionized employees in a federally regulated industry locks out workers.

  • A commitment to continued funding to help First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities undertake burial searches at the former sites of residential schools.

  • A commitment to work with Indigenous peoples to decide how housing investments are delivered and designed.

  • A commitment to advance policies related to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

  • Changes to taxation for financial institutions that have made robust profits during the pandemic.

  • Implementation of a publicly accessible beneficial ownership registry by the end of 2023.

  • A commitment to work with Elections Canada to expand voter participation, which could include expanding election day to three days of voting.

  • A change to elections rules to allow people to vote at any polling place within their electoral district.

  • Improvements to mail-in ballots so that voters are not disenfranchised.

  • A commitment to ensuring that the number of seats Quebec has in the House of Commons remains constant.

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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