Interview: Alex Johnstone - New Democratic Party
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By: Isaac Kinley
Alex Johnstone, the Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas candidate for the New Democratic Party, discussed her party’s plans to make living more affordable for the riding’s residents. She said that her party plans to raise the corporate tax rate by two percent, generating enough revenue to both balance the budget and facilitate increased spending.
Some of Johnstone’s major platform points include the NDP’s proposed $15 per day universal childcare, an investment in Medicare to reduce the cost of medications by 40 percent and investment in retirement, considering the large volume of baby boomers reaching retirement age. She said that she was personally most excited about the NDP’s proposals both to introduce a cap-and-trade system aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to repeal Bill C-51. “Our party and the Green Party were the only ones to vote against Bill C-51,” she said. “We are committed to repealing [it].”
To address student debt, the NDP plans to create interest-free federal student loans and invest $250 million in the creation of 74,000 new federal grants for students in need of financial assistance, according to Johnstone. They also intend to “crack down” on unpaid internships that aren’t related to the intern’s education and invest $200 million in the creation of paid co-ops and internships. Additionally, they plan to reintroduce the recently defeated Intern Protection Act, which would extend labour rights to interns, such as the right to refuse unsafe work.
The NDP’s $15 per day child care proposal has received criticism from Justin Trudeau, who said it isn’t necessary to provide services at that price to Canadians of all levels of income. Johnstone responded, arguing that the Liberal childcare plan does not involve the creation of any new childcare spaces and would therefore not contribute to the equitable administration of childcare services.
The existing childcare centres in Hamilton are concentrated in Ancaster, she said, and mostly absent in the poorest areas farther east. She likened the $15 per day plan to universal healthcare and education, saying, “[universal childcare] is another program that, just like [those two], is going to be a societal game-changer.”
Johnstone also criticized the Liberals’ planned tax breaks, arguing that $6 billion of Canada’s annual deficit is the result of tax breaks for families with children, including families with wealthy parents on the Sunshine List.
“It’s important to note that Trudeau’s system only targets the top one percent [of earners],” she said. “That still leaves the vast majority of people who are on the Sunshine List. They’re still benefiting [from tax breaks].”