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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NDP calling for a moratorium on offshore drilling near Cacouna

New Democrats are calling for a moratorium on offshore work near Cacouna until Conservatives make the scientific advice they based their decision to green-light drilling and seismic surveying public — noting that the area is key to the survival of local beluga whales.

“We have called for a moratorium on all work underway within the belugas’ home environment,” said NDP deputy critic for the Environment, François Choquette (Drummond). “This is an endangered species, and several independent experts believe that it is being affected by these offshore activities. If the government has scientific proof that drilling and seismic surveying will not endanger these animals, it needs to be made public.”

Last June, Choquette visited the Cacouna region, only to find that the advice offered by many scientists, environmentalists and regular citizens had not been taken into account at the worksite. That has led New Democrats to call for the immediate publication of the scientific studies upon which the Conservative government based its decision to allow seismic surveying to begin this past spring, as well as continuous geotechnical drilling.

“We believe that the work should not go ahead as long as the public has not been allowed to see the advice upon which the Conservatives based their decision to authorize the work,” said MP François Lapointe (Montmagny-L’Islet-Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup).

The NDP has also sent several requests to the Committees on the Environment and on Fisheries and Oceans to meet with marine-life specialists to hear how this offshore work will impact the waters off Cacouna. But these Committees—which are controlled by Conservative MPs—rejected our requests.

“This most ridiculous part in all this is that the TransCanada pipeline project has yet to be formally tabled, and has therefore not been subject to a full evaluation. The work near Cacouna is therefore premature and should not have gone ahead without a full assessment of environmental impacts,” added NDP MP Guy Caron (Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les-Basques).

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NDP will launch a commission of inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women in its first 100 days in power

An NDP government would launch a national inquiry into the cases of the 1,200 Indigenous women that have been killed or gone missing over the last 30 years in its first 100 days in power. 

 “Enough is enough. Stephen Harper has made it clear that he has no intention of doing the right thing. But I can promise that, if the NDP forms government in 2015, we will launch an investigation into murdered and missing Indigenous women,” said the leader of the Official Opposition, Tom Mulcair.

 A recent RCMP report revealed that approximately 1,200 Indigenous women have been murdered or gone missing over the last 30 years. Young Indigenous women are far more likely to be murdered than other young women.

 “Police investigations just aren’t enough,” added Mr. Mulcair. “It is inconceivable that we, as a country, allowed this situation to continue. We urgently need to acknowledge the systemic aspect of this crisis instead of ignoring or dismissing it. All Canadians deserve to live in safety.”

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Statement from the NDP on the announcement of a long-term ceasefire

NDP Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre) made the following statement on the announcement of a long-term ceasefire between Hamas and Israel:

“New Democrats welcome the announcement of a long-term ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. This conflict has taken a tragic toll on civilians, especially in Gaza, and now more than ever Canada must focus its diplomatic efforts on helping to achieve a lasting and secure peace. 

“The Canadian government should now commit to humanitarian relief and reconstruction assistance to address the critical situation in Gaza. It is crucial that Canada immediately agree to make a funding commitment to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA); work with Britain, Germany, France, Norway, Egypt and others in reconstruction and peacebuilding efforts; and support Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish’s efforts to bring injured Palestinian children to Canada for treatment.

“New Democrats have long been committed to a policy of supporting peaceful coexistence in viable, secure and independent states with agreed-upon borders; an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian land; and, an end to violence targeting civilians. We will continue our efforts to constructively engage Palestinian and Israeli officials, defend human rights and promote respect for international law.”


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Conservatives ignore deteriorating Inuit health

Statistics Canada released data today that reveals only 45% of Inuit reporting good or excellent health, compared to the Canadian average of 63%.

“The ability to live a healthy life is increasingly out of reach for Canadian Inuit,” said Carol Hughes, NDP deputy critic for Aboriginal Health. “As the Prime Minister’s tour comes to an end, he should respond to the pressing needs in these communities and commit to addressing food insecurity and the lack of access to health care”.

The Statistics Canada data reports limited access to health care, revealing that 14% of Inuit people are unable to receive the health care they need, likely because it is not available in their area. They also found that 41% of Inuit people experience food insecurity — five times the national rate.


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Conservatives continue to denigrate unemployed Canadians

By now, we are all familiar with how the Conservative government likes to vilify unemployed Canadians.

After calling them “bastards”, “bad guys” and inferring they are lazy, a Conservative minister has now gone a step further and associated the unemployed with drug trafficking.

In a Radio-Canada interview this weekend, Stephen Harper’s Quebec lieutenant Denis Lebel said:

“We often pay people on employment insurance to sell…well, they’re not always good substances. I want it to stop. I want the people that we’re paying not to work to find a job”

-Denis Lebel, Radio-Canada, August 24, 2014[1]

Let’s not forget Minister of Human Resources Diane Finley, who previously called unemployed Canadians the “bad guys” and inferred people receiving Employment Insurance were lazy as an excuse for her radical cuts to EI:   

“We do not want to make it lucrative for them to stay home and get paid for it.”

– Diane Finley, January 30, 2009

“The NDP is protecting the bad guys.”

– Diane Finley, February 1st, 2013, In response to an answer to NDP questions regarding Service Canada’s use of “quotas”.

And of course Gerald Keddy, now Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue and for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, previously made this reprehensible statement about unemployed Nova Scotians:  

“…all those no-good bastards sitting on the sidewalk in Halifax that can’t get work.”

– Gerald Keddy, November 23, 2009

Conservatives are out of touch with the realities facing unemployed Canadian and don’t understand that EI is paid for by workers’ premiums, not the government.

People know it is Tom Mulcair and the NDP they can trust to stand up for the rights of workers.

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NDP statement on the 100th anniversary of the war measures

Official Opposition Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre) made the following statement on the 100th anniversary of the War Measures Act internment of Canadians from Ukraine and Eastern Europe:

“In August of 1914 over 8,000 Canadians from Ukraine and Eastern Europe were rounded up and sent to camps across the country, in a breach of their civil liberties which had a devastating impact on the detainees, their families and friends.

In 2005 Bill C-331, the Internment of Persons of Ukrainian Origin Recognition Act passed in the Canadian Parliament, recognizing this injustice and helping to further pave the way forward.  

Ukrainian-Canadians have come a long way since the internment camps and continue to make vital contributions to many aspects of Canadian life, including politics, the economy and culture.

On this solemn anniversary, we pay tribute to those who suffered during this time and pledge to do our part to prevent this injustice from being visited on others.”

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