Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh makes his morning announcement in Vancouver on Sept. 11.


With just one week left until election day, all three major parties have now released fully costed platforms and former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page says only the Liberal plan deserved a good grade for overall fiscal credibility.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy (IFSD) at the University of Ottawa, where Mr. Page is founding president and CEO, rated all three platforms in three areas: realistic fiscal assumptions, fiscal management and transparency. Each category is scored as either good, pass or fail and additional analysis is provided.

The IFSD gave the NDP and Conservative platforms a passing grade over all, and the Liberal document received a higher score of “good.”

Story continues below advertisement

Canadian federal election 2021: Latest updates and essential reading ahead of Sept. 20 vote

Federal election poll tracker: Follow the latest Nanos-Globe-CTV numbers ahead of the Sept. 20 vote

The NDP’s plan is the largest by far in terms of new spending and tax hikes. The party proposes to spend $38.5-billion over five years on a national pharmacare plan, plus $11-billion more for dental coverage, as part of a platform that would expand government spending by $214-billion over that period.

To pay for part of it, the NDP proposes $166-billion in new tax revenues, including expanded levies on capital gains, corporations and a wealth tax, which would add a 1-per-cent tax on those with more than $10-million in wealth, measuring elements such as property and investments.

“We’re going to invest in people in really bold ways,” NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said on Saturday when the platform was released.

In the IFSD report released Sunday, the NDP platform was rated high by Mr. Page’s institute for realistic fiscal assumptions and passed on fiscal responsibility, but got a failing grade on transparency. Though many of the party’s revenue plans had been costed by the current Parliamentary Budget Officer, Mr. Page said very few spending plans went through the same assessment.

The institute also says the NDP fails to explain how it would implement large programs that overlap with provincial jurisdiction, nor does it assess the potential negative economic consequences of large tax increases.

“It’s an ambitious platform. There’s more ambition in this platform than in the Conservatives’ or in the Liberal Party’s,” said Mr. Page.

“They’re just trying to do a lot,” he said. “It’s a big spend document.”

Story continues below advertisement

Though Mr. Page said it’s a positive thing that the NDP has built in contingency funds to help buffer the unknown effects of these big programs, he said the institute did have concerns about a few aspects. One was that the costing is dependent on raising a wealth tax, among other measures, and that it may be difficult to raise taxes “in this environment.” He also said that this structure is unlikely to be sustainable over the long term as demographic shifts will put greater burdens on programs such as pharmacare.

Nevertheless, Mr. Page said the NDP’s platform costing is “a serious document” and warrants a passing score.

The party platforms are based in part on assessments by current PBO Yves Giroux and his team, which have a legislated role during elections to independently assess the estimated fiscal impact of specific spending or tax proposals at the request of parties. The current PBO does not provide any comment on the platforms as a whole, which is the focus of the IFSD’s work. The IFSD team includes several former senior PBO officials.

Mr. Page’s team gave the Conservative costed platform a passing grade overall, but a score of “fail” under the category of responsible fiscal management.

The institute’s main concern is that most of $60-billion the Conservatives plan to spend on increasing the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) would only come in years five through 10 of a Conservative government. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is also saying he will balance the books over a decade, but the institute said the platform doesn’t explain how health spending can rise sharply while the deficit shrinks.

“The CHT escalator of at least six per cent, if ongoing, would put the long-term balanced budget target and long-term fiscal sustainability at significant risk,” the institute wrote. “The six per cent increase to the CHT may require significant reductions to other spending measures or increases in revenue measures to maintain fiscal sustainability.”

Story continues below advertisement

The NDP offered no comment on the report when contacted Sunday night.

When asked about the IFSD report, Mr. O’Toole said his plan is about creating jobs and growing the economy, which will help balance the books.

“The Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed our plan. We submitted 30 different policies for his analysis and we will balance the budget within the decade. We will make record investments in health care and our spending in the short term is about getting people back to work,” he said.

While the institute rated the Liberal platform as “good” across the three reviewed areas, it noted that the platform risks overestimating new revenue from increased tax enforcement and could be underestimating the cost of its climate-change plan.

When asked Sunday how realistic the NDP’s platform is, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said it is the job of Canadians and the media to analyze the various promises. He also said there are tough choices that come with governing.

“Governing is choosing,” he said at an event in Candiac, Que. “It’s about making really difficult choices about what is the best way to both support Canadians and ensure a better future.”

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Trudeau said he stands by the Liberal record of progressive politics while “the NDP are making choices that I don’t think stand up to closer scrutiny.”

Mr. Trudeau was also questioned on whether there is an argument to raise taxes on the wealthiest and big corporations to raise more money for government programs.

“Yes, we have to have a progressive tax system,” he said. “Yes, we have to make sure that the wealthiest are paying their full and fair share. And we’ve done significant things towards that. But the idea that you can go with unlimited zeal against the successful and wealthy in this country to pay for everything else is an idea that reaches its limit at one point. And I don’t think the NDP get that.”

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole offered no comment. In fact, he had offered a response to the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy's report.

Follow the party leaders and where they stand on the issues this election campaign by signing up for our Morning or Evening Update newsletters.

For subscribers only: Get exclusive political news and analysis by signing up for the Politics Briefing.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the authors of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies