NDP says it would redirect wage subsidy money that went to executives

Aug 16 2021, 11:22 am

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is promising to take back money from CEOs who received federal subsidies intended for protecting workers’ jobs, emphasizing his party’s pitch to make the “ultrarich” pay more on the first full day of the campaign.

The pledge was short on details, but Singh said he would ensure that any of the federal wage subsidies that went to executives get redirected to delivering services and supports to families who need them.

“A New Democrat government is going to make sure any company that abused the system, that took public money then paid out dividends to their shareholders or increased executive pay, we’re going to stop that,” Singh said.

“We’re going to make sure they reimburse that, then reinvest it into people.”

Singh spoke at a campaign stop in Toronto’s Danforth neighbourhood, with local NDP candidate Clare Hacksel by his side. Gesturing to the busy street, Singh spoke about how small business had been hurt by restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 while big-box retailers thrived.

“We want to make sure the ultrarich pay their fair share, these large corporations pay their fair share, so we can invest in supports for small businesses,” said Singh, who added that an NDP government would continue the rental subsidy and the wage subsidy for small businesses.

When asked how he would investigate and mandate that, Singh said there are a number of tools at a government’s disposal.

“At the heart of it, Canadians see that hundreds of large corporations took public money and then paid out dividends to their shareholders,” he said.

“They look at it and say, ‘Well, we struggled. While workers were having a hard time, why is it that Justin Trudeau continues to let the richest companies get away with abusing the system?'”

Singh struggled to be heard at times while addressing media and supporters as a handful of hecklers shouted over his announcement. The hecklers were not united in their views, however, and several times they were shouted down by NDP supporters. The Toronto-Danforth riding was once held by former leader Jack Layton, and the Liberals have represented it since 2015.

Raising his voice to be heard over one heckler with a bullhorn, Singh said the recovered money would be put toward the NDP’s health care priorities, such as mental health services, pharmacare, and dental coverage, but didn’t cite a dollar amount the party expects to claw back from the executives and corporations.

“We’ve seen the parliamentary budget office look at some of our measures, including the wealth tax, and say that we could raise as much as $10 billion per year off of just one of the measures we’ve put forward,” said Singh. “So there’s lots of ways for us to make sure the burden doesn’t fall on you or your family, doesn’t fall on workers, doesn’t fall on small businesses.”

Singh was set to visit a restaurant in Brampton, the city where he once held a riding as a member of provincial parliament, later on Monday afternoon before heading to Pearson Airport to fly to Vancouver for the next day of the campaign.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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