NDP leader Jagmeet Singh took aim at his Liberal rival on Monday, pledging to implement supports for workers that he said Justin Trudeau previously promised but failed to deliver during his terms as prime minister.
Speaking at a Labour Day campaign stop in the traditional NDP stronghold of Hamilton-Centre, Singh highlighted the party’s commitment to $10 universal child care, as well as a $20 minimum wage and 10 days of paid sick leave for federally regulated workers.
Flanked by orange-clad supporters, including members of the United Steelworkers union, he said the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed shortcomings in the worker support system and the need for change.
He said that while Trudeau has made paid sick leave a campaign promise, he didn’t pass the measure through Parliament after Singh repeatedly pressured him to do so.
“Despite demanding this so many times, Mr. Trudeau said no, only to say in this campaign that he’s promising to get it done,” Singh said. “That is the height of cynical politics to deny something 22 times, when it was needed most, and then to promise it in the middle of a campaign.”
Singh said the Liberals have also long pledged more affordable child care but have failed to follow through.
The Liberals, Conservatives and New Democratic Party are all pitching competing child-care visions in this election campaign, with an eye to bringing down costs for families.
Trudeau’s government introduced a national daycare program in its April budget to cut fees down to an average of $10 a day within five years. The Liberals have also inked child-care deals with eight provinces and two territories before the election campaign got underway.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, meanwhile has promised to create a new refundable tax credit that could pay eligible families up to $6,000.
Singh reserved his attacks on the issue for Trudeau, accusing him and his predecessors of inaction on the file.
“Liberals have been promising child care for 30 years. Three decades. Kids that need child care have grown up and have kids of their own, and there’s still no child care,” he said.
While the NDP’s child care plan would cover all Canadians, the party’s proposed higher wage and paid sick leave wouldn’t cover workers who fall under provincial jurisdiction.
But Singh said he would encourage the provinces to follow suit. He said non-federally regulated workers, such as those employed in the service sector or in warehouses, are among the most critical and often the most poorly paid.
“One of the ways that we can deal with this is show leadership at the federal level,” Singh said. “And we would encourage provinces, of course it’s not in our jurisdiction, but that doesn’t mean we can’t show leadership, that doesn’t mean we can’t encourage moving forward with better wages.”
Worker supports were a key focus for the other campaigns as well on Monday. The federal Liberals are promising legal protection for businesses asking for proof of COVID-19 vaccination from staff and customers, while O’Toole repeated a promise to double the Canada Workers Benefit to $2,800 for individuals, or $5,000 for families if elected on Sept. 20.
Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.