Statment by the Official Opposition on Labour Day

Official Opposition Labour critic Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie) made the following statement regarding Labour Day:

“On this Labour Day 2014, New Democrats would like to highlight the vital role that Canadian workers have played in our economic development and potential for innovation.

“The NDP would also like to acknowledge the contributions of the women and men who fought for the labour rights which we all benefit from today, but which unfortunately continue to come under attack.

“We acknowledge the solid foundation laid by unions, which guaranteed a safe workplace, the right to negotiate, employment equity, and the hope of a comfortable retirement for today’s workers.

“The NDP continues to make every effort to protect these rights and would like to wish everyone a happy Labour Day.”

Click here to hear the statement from the Leader of the Official Opposition, Tom Mulcair:

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NDP convinces telecom companies to end some “pay-to-pay” fees

After years of fighting to end “pay-to-pay” fees, the NDP is pleased that telecommunications companies have agreed not to gouge certain customers, but is still pushing for an outright ban on this unfair cash grab.

“Not charging some consumers is a step in the right direction but it’s taken far too long to see action on something that is really an easy fix,” said NDP MP Andrew Cash (Davenport) who has led the fight to end these fees. “Instead of punishing Canadians who receive paper bills, reward customers who switch to online billing.”

The telecommunication industry has agreed not to charge seniors, persons with disabilities, people without Internet access and members of the military. However this appears to be a voluntary decision with no method of ensuring compliance. Conservatives have failed to deliver on their 2013 promise to end all “pay-to-pay” policies and their planned legislation will only apply to the telecommunication sector.

“The Conservatives can’t be trusted to protect consumers,” said Cash. “We’re looking forward to seeing their bill but we’ve learned that with this government, the devil is in the detail.”

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Conservatives ignore widespread calls for action on retirement security

Despite widespread calls for action on retirement security, and growing concern amongst Canadians, Conservatives continue to mismanage one of the most pressing economic issues facing Canada today.

“Canadians and provincial governments understand the urgent need for action from the federal government to address the looming retirement security crisis,” said NDP Pensions critic Murray Rankin (Victoria). “While The Conservatives keep blocking progress to boost the CPP/QPP, Canadians are growing increasingly concerned about their retirement security.”

A new EKOS survey found that 69 per cent of Canadians believe the federal government should take a leading role to ensure Canadians can retire – either through savings programs or income supports. Fully half of Canadians surveyed said they were concerned they wouldn’t have enough money for their retirement. Unfortunately Conservatives have blocked all efforts to boost retirement savings and increase the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) benefits.

“While the Premiers meet to discuss this pending crisis, Conservatives are actually making matters worse by blocking increases to public pensions and eroding access to good quality company pensions,” said Rankin.

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Cacouna: What are Conservatives hiding?

Offshore drilling will begin shortly in Cacouna, home of the endangered beluga whale, and New Democrats are wondering what Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are hiding? NDP requests for scientific documents concerning the drilling have been delegated to the Minister of Natural Resources — not the Minister of the Environment.

“It’s the Environment Minister’s job to protect endangered species,” said François Choquette, the Official Opposition’s deputy critic for Environment. “The fact that the Minister for Natural Resources is replying to our request, and not Leona Aglukkaq, says a lot about the way this Conservative government handles environmental issues.”

New Democrats have called on the Conservative government to publicly disclose the scientific advice on which it based its authorization of work in the port of Cacouna. Until this is done, the Official Opposition in Ottawa has called for a moratorium on all activities in the area.

“It’s a really simple request — it’s a question of transparency that the government can quickly act upon,” said MP François Lapointe (Montmagny-L’Islet-Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup). “It was right there in black in white in the Minister’s response: ‘Canadians expect their government to make decisions based on independent scientific studies and not on irresponsible ideologies.’ Well, we completely agree, that’s exactly why we want to see these scientific analyses.”

The NDP is reiterating its request and hopes that this time the Environment Minister will actually bother to reply.

“Instead of calling the NDP radical, Conservatives should simply unveil the documents they have in their possession,” added MP Guy Caron (Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les-Basques). “If the advice says that drilling activities won’t affect the belugas, they can go right ahead. But the more Conservatives stubbornly insist on keeping secrets, the more we get the sense that they’re hiding something.”

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Conservatives need to put an end to “pay-to-pay” fees

Enough is enough. The Conservative government has to eliminate pay-to-pay billing for all industries under the federal jurisdiction.

“This is an easy fix. Consumers should be rewarded if they switch to online products, not punished because they are receiving their paper bills in the mail”, said NDP Consumer Affairs critic, Glenn Thibeault (Sudbury).

The Public Interest Advocacy Center published a report yesterday that estimates that Canadians pay between $495 and $734 million dollars every year in fees for paper copies of their telecommunications bills and bank balances.

The poll shows that 75% of people oppose the pay-to-pay fees and that about 33% of the population is uncomfortable with making the switch to e-billing and e-banking.

“This is a clear cash-grab worth millions of dollars that affects low-income families and seniors the most. It is not ethical for banks and telecommunications companies to make a profit on the back of the most vulnerable people in our society”, added Thibeault.

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