NDP Outlines Program for Working People

August 20, 2009, 3:28 PM EST

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Claims that the recession is over are Bay Street fiction disconnected from the reality of the lives of working people across the country, NDP leader Jack Layton says.

In manufacturing, forestry and other economic sectors, the recession continues to tear workers and their families apart. Despite claims that a recovery is underway the impact on working people is gut wrenching.

This far reaching attack on workers and the middle class is a product of economic and political thinking from decades ago such as Thatcherism or Reaganomics that was built on the false premise that government must be pushed out of the way to accommodate the demands of big corporations.

Layton outlined a multi-pronged approach that the NDP are advocating for the next Parliament, including reform of Employment Insurance so that the multi-billion dollar fund provides more help to far more of the growing ranks of the unemployed.

Layton also called for a buy Canadian policy that ensures Canadian tax dollars are spent by governments on Canadian made products that in turn help create good Canadian jobs.

"We need an economic strategy that will create good jobs," Layton told delegates.

On trade, Layton demanded that no trade deals be approved unless they promote "fair trade" with guarantees that Canadian goods can be sold into the market of the other country. Further, trade deals should not be signed or approved unless there are guarantees that the trading partner nation protects human rights.

There is also need for pension reform to ensure that seniors and those who have worked all their lives can enjoy a decent standard of living in retirement. Attacks on pensions that mean banks and other creditors are paid back before retirees during a bankruptcy, for example, must stop.

In addition, the federal government needs to establish a program to protect pension funds to ensure they are properly funded when a bankruptcy occurs. In the area of public pensions, Layton called for a whole new approach to income and security for seniors that will require a major fix of the Canada Pension Plan.

The NDP will push in the next Parliament to not only protect public health care and ensure it continues as a cherished national institution inspired by the efforts of Tommy Douglas, but also advocate for its expansion into other areas such as national Pharmacare and long-term care programs.

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