Creating a Better, More Just Canada

Dignity. Everyone living in Canada should have confidence that their human rights are respected and that they can live their life with dignity. Children must have the freedom to enjoy all the opportunities of a safe, healthy childhood with access to culturally appropriate education, health care, and homes. No child should have to wonder whether they’ll have food to eat, a safe place to sleep, or whether their feelings, thoughts, and dreams matter. As they grow to be adults, they must have opportunities that build confidence to face the challenges of life, knowing that they won’t be refused service or turned away from a job, an apartment, or any public space, based on socio-economic status, race (including Indigeneity), gender, immigration status, sexual orientation, or (dis)ability. Everyone, young and old, should feel they are part of a community, take pride in their accomplishments, and know that they are valued as a person.

At the heart of ending poverty in Canada is upholding this inherent value, rights, and dignity of every person—each created in the image of God—regardless of their social position or how much they “contribute” to the economy. To date, Canada has committed to reducing poverty by 50 per cent (compared to 2015) by 2030, but the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call on governments to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere.” Poverty is itself created and sustained by systems that deny the rights and dignity of people and communities; in order to build a new future, we need new systems.

ASK FEDERAL CANDIDATES:

  • How will you/your party support collaboration with community-led initiatives to improve equity and health outcomes, build capacity, and ensure that programs and services reach all who need them?
  • What will you do to support people throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? How will you ensure corporate responsibility for COVID-19 relief funds so that this money benefits workers and communities before shareholders?
  • How will you ensure adequate funding and minimum delivery standards are in place for universally-accessible public services and infrastructure like childcare, pharmacare, and affordable housing to help offset rising costs of living and increasing social and economic inequity? 
  • When will you develop and implement a universally-accessible basic income guarantee to replace our current patchwork of inadequate income assistance programs?

Social Inclusion. Black, Indigenous and people of colour are equal members of society. They, along with women, newcomers, members of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community, youth and the elderly, and people living with disabilities, should have the same opportunities and enjoy the same rights and well-being as White, cis-gendered, straight, working-aged, able-bodied folks. Systemic barriers, prejudice, and racism must become a thing of the past. It is essential that communities, workplaces, social institutions, and governments honour the diversity and contributions of all members of Canadian society and uphold their socio-economic and cultural rights. 

ASK FEDERAL CANDIDATES:

  • What is your/your party’s plan to achieve equitable socio-economic outcomes for individuals and communities facing systemic oppression (including First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples; racialized people; refugees and other immigrants; women; 2SLGBTQQIA+ people; and people living with disabilities)?
  • How will you encourage the social and economic integration of racialized communities? 
  • What will you do to address the systemic barriers faced by newcomers? How will you ensure that their foreign professional credentials, education, and experience are recognized in Canada?
Ottawa sunset over river with historical architecture.

Equity.  Canada is a country with great wealth and resources. Our federal policies, programs, and tax system must work in tandem to ensure a more equitable distribution of wealth and well-being among people in Canada. Critical investments are needed for universally-accessible social  programs, affordable housing, and other infrastructure. These should be financed via progressive tax policies that contain corporate and individual accountability measures. Canadians for Tax Fairness estimates that a four per cent increase in federal tax on personal wealth over $750,000 alone would yield $1 billion annually. 

Governments, civil society, and the private sector must all cooperate in building a just future. This includes upholding minimum standards based in human rights and operating according to principles that are both environmentally and economically sustainable. 

ASK FEDERAL CANDIDATES:

  • What changes will you/your party make in the next four years to eliminate tax evasion by individuals,  corporations, and multinational enterprises?
  • How will you remove barriers to tax filing and accessing federal tax benefits to increase uptake among marginalized people and communities?

Democratic Participation. Confidence and participation in our electoral system are essential facets of a functioning democracy. While opportunities to engage in the democratic process abound year-round, elections serve as a unique moment to reflect and propel the changes we need to create a more just society. 

In our current “winner takes all” system, voters who cast their ballots for unsuccessful candidates or parties can often feel like their perspectives go unheard. A system of proportional representation could combat feelings of disillusionment, ensure that all voices are heard—including individuals experiencing poverty, Indigenous Peoples, and others disproportionately marginalized—and guarantee that every vote counts.

Democratic reform has the potential to reignite political engagement by better reflecting the preferences of all voters. 

ASK FEDERAL CANDIDATES:

  • How will you/your party move forward on proportional representation during the upcoming parliamentary session? 
  • How will you work with other elected officials to ensure the voices of the most vulnerable are heard, and their needs prioritized? 
  • What strategies will you employ to foster greater collaboration and meaningful dialogue across parties, jurisdictions, and with civil society? 
  • Beyond the election, how will you ensure you are hearing from and answering to those typically excluded from decision-making processes?
Wet'suwet'un Demonstration

Indigenous rights and reconciliation. First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people should be celebrated both as the First Peoples of this nation and as caretakers and knowledge keepers since time immemorial. It is critical that the inherent human rights and also treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people and communities be honoured and upheld in all laws, policies, and practices across sectors and jurisdictions. Just like Western science, Indigenous experiences and ways of knowing must also be recognized and valued throughout policy development, implementation, and evaluation. 

The well-being of Indigenous Peoples must be considered a national priority, closing the gap in health and socio-economic outcomes of Indigenous and settler populations. Specifically, this should include an end to all boil water advisories and disproportionate rates of incarceration, violence, and child apprehensions, as well as measures to ensure access to healthy, culturally appropriate food; quality education; training and employment opportunities; and affordable and appropriate housing in Indigenous communities so people aren’t forced to leave.

Indigenous Peoples must have access to traditional lands and waters, exercising the right to free, prior, and informed consent over the use of these territories. It is paramount that Indigenous nations are respected as sovereign, equal partners in the nation-to-nation relationship with the Government of Canada and that treaty rights be honoured.

Building on the passage of the “United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act” in June 2021, it is imperative that the Government of Canada follow through on its previous commitment to enact the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 Agenda, the Truth and Reconciliation Commisson’s calls to action, and the calls to justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

ASK FEDERAL CANDIDATES:

  • When will you/your party deliver on all of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action that pertain to the federal government?
  • When will you respond to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ calls to justice?
  • What will you do to honour Indigenous Peoples’ right to free, prior, and informed consent on an ongoing basis?
  • What will you do to ensure that the remaining on-reserve boil water advisories are lifted in the immediate short-term?
  • Will you immediately comply with all rulings by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to immediately cease its discriminatory funding of First Nations child and family services and fully implement Jordan's Principle?
  • How do you plan to develop the action plan required by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act? When will this be done?

A Welcome Home. Newcomers to Canada must be welcomed as equals, with respect for their human rights, culture, knowledge, and experience. Detainment and separation must be replaced with supports conducive to a sense of safety and opportunities for socio-economic security, including safe and affordable housing. Reuniting families would be made a priority. 

Newcomers should have access to good, secure employment, as well as supports for those outside the workforce. Opportunities should be provided (with the necessary supports) to learn English or French. Education and professional credentials obtained internationally should be recognized and supports to bridge any gaps with Canadian certification requirements should be provided. Broader Canadian society must recognize and honour the contributions of refugees, refugee claimants, temporary foreign workers, and immigrants. Access to services and benefits should not be tied to immigration status. Everyone—but especially political leaders—would recognize the essential nature of immigration in addressing labour shortages, rebuilding the economy, and assisting in paying off our national debt. 

ASK FEDERAL CANDIDATES:

  • What will you/your party do to reduce application processing times, barriers, and backlogs in the refugee resettlement process? What additional financial resources and personnel will you allocate to processing centers to tackle these delays and barriers? 
  • What investments will you make to establish a service standard of 12 month processing times for family reunification applications?
  • When will resettled refugees no longer be required to repay travel loans?
  • When will you eliminate Canadian citizenship fees?
  • How much will you invest in policies and programs that honour the rights of immigrants, migrant workers, refugees, and all newcomers to Canada?
  • Will your party ensure all kids in Canada receive the support of the Canada Child Benefit by untying eligibility to the parent or caregiver’s immigration status?
  • Will you cease the separation and detainment of children, families, and individuals seeking asylum in Canada? What measures will you take to ensure all claimants’ human rights are upheld?
Canoeing

Climate stability. An honest response to the rapidly accelerating impacts of the global climate crisis requires governments, industry, and society at large to respond ambitiously to the scientific imperative of reducing GHG emissions and a compassionate but expedient phasing out of the fossil fuel sector. The interruption to “business as usual” of the COVID-19 pandemic has made space to consider creative, strategic alternatives aligned with a decarbonized future. 

This does not mean turning our backs on workers—quite the contrary. The way forward requires significant investment in a fulsome, just transition to a more equitable and sustainable economy: one that upholds the rights of Indigenous Peoples, integrates racialized and disabled people, AND that includes funding for skills development, retraining programs, clean infrastructure and industrial development, as well as early retirement options to guarantee the livelihoods and well-being of former fossil fuel workers. In other words, a just transition to a green economy that supports all people and all of creation. 

ASK FEDERAL CANDIDATES:

  • Do you/your party have a plan to reduce Canadian GHG emissions by 60 percent below 2005 levels by 2030? If not, when will such a plan be made available?
  • When will you/your party end all subsidies to the fossil fuel industry?
  • How do you envision a just transition to a decarbonized economy? When will you mandate the managed phase out of the oil and gas industry (as has been done with coal)? What will you do to support workers and communities through this transition?
  • How much will you invest in creating a new, green economy? What will you do to ensure that racialized, disabled, and other marginalized populations are a part of the new economy? 
  • When will you enforce the “polluter-pays” principle and remove the exemptions currently given to large emitters under the federal carbon pricing mechanism?
  • How will you accelerate the reduction of transportation-related emissions? When will electric vehicle charging stations be available across the country at the scale required to comply with the 2035 phase-out of gas-powered vehicles?

Canadian climate action must also recognize our responsibility for our historic emissions and the harm that has been caused internationally. Rapid decarbonization could serve to lessen the potential of extreme weather events, but a lot of damage has already been done.

ASK FEDERAL CANDIDATES:

  • Will you/your party advocate to have climate migrants recognized by the UNHCR as refugees? 
  • When will you provide equal support for both climate change adaptation and mitigation measures in the Global South through international climate financing mechanisms?

As part of its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, the Government of Canada set out to: “Demonstrate leadership, at home and abroad, in shaping a sustainable and resilient future that promotes prosperity, partnership, peace, people and the planet, while ensuring that no one is left behind.” Let it be so.

A Just Canada would …

  • Respect human rights and honour the dignity of every person on this land. Create accessible accountability mechanisms to ensure restitution is made if these rights are violated.
  • Take action to end poverty in all its forms everywhere (including food and housing insecurity).
  • Improve equity and outcomes for individuals and communities facing systemic oppression.
  • Implement a fair and progressive tax system that contributes to a more equitable distribution of wealth.
  • Follow-through on the commitment to develop an action plan to fully implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 
  • Engage settlers in the healing processes of reconciliation and upholding Indigenous rights and sovereignty.
  • Inform and educate all inhabitants about Canada’s colonial history and the ongoing legacy of anti-Indigenous, anti-Black, and anti-Asian racism. 
  • Cultivate accessible and effective processes for civil society participation in public policy development, implementation, and evaluation, particularly among communities typically excluded from decision-making processes. 
  • Extend a full welcome to asylum-seekers, refugees, and other migrants to Canada, honouring their inherent rights and providing them with equal opportunities.
  • Accelerate GHG emissions reductions across the Canadian economy. Implement specific decarbonization measures in the highest emitting sectors.
  • Promote climate justice by investing heavily in a just transition to a new green, decarbonized economy.
  • Prioritize human and environmental rights, sustainability, and the flourishing of all creation.

 

Join CPJ in encouraging voters and electoral candidates alike to “do everything in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14) for all people and all of creation. Together, we can join in the work of building a just Canada.

 

Download CPJ's 2021 Election Bulletin (PDF)

Countdown to the 2021 federal election:

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