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The deal to keep Trudeau in power is contingent on action on these NDP priorities this year


As the minority Liberals plot out their policy moves ahead of the 2023 parliamentary sitting, weighing heavily are commitments Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made to NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh that have to be acted on this year in order to uphold the two-party confidence-and-supply deal.

Inked in March 2022, the agreement injected what could be years of stability on Parliament Hill, seeing the NDP propping up the Liberals until June 2025—just ahead of the fixed election date in October of that year— in exchange for policy action on a suite of progressive issues. 

In the first year, there was progress on a few key elements of the agreement, including the first phase of a national dental care program, boosts to rental and GST benefits, and the tabling of legislation aimed at protecting the Canada-wide early learning and child-care system. 

While not part of the two-party deal, Singh is now calling on the prime minister to make protecting the public health-care system a condition of any increase to provincial Canada Health Transfers. This, compounded by new polling suggesting that health care is a top national issue of concern and that Trudeau is appearing to be squeezed on the left, may challenge the two-party pact in the months ahead. 

This comes as several key pledges in the parliamentary pact are outstanding. While not all have time-specific deadlines, such as moving forward with 'just-transition' legislation, there are five specific commitments that the two sides have agreed need to be acted on within 2023. 

Making progress on these key items in order to keep the agreement alive is something the federal Liberal cabinet will be considering as it gathers in Hamilton, Ont., next week for a retreat.

Speaking to reporters during a multi-day strategy session with his caucus in Ottawa this week, Singh offered a reminder that he's willing to pull his support if the Liberals fail to uphold any element of the agreement.

"We always have the right, if the government breaks any conditions of the agreement, if they don't follow through with what we forced them to agree to, we have then the power or the option of withdrawing our support," Singh said.

Here's what needs to get done in 2023 to keep the deal alive.


While the first phase has seen the government implement a stop-gap dental-care benefit model ensuring the Liberals met their 2022 commitment to cover dental costs for eligible children under 12, the Liberals are still on the hook to roll out a full-fledged national dental program for low-income Canadians by 2025.

In 2023, the Liberals have committed to expanding the system to those under the age of 18, seniors, and people living with disabilities. 

Singh says he'll be eyeing the 2023 federal budget to make sure it includes "enough funds" to move forward with the next stage of the program, calling it a "clear requirement."


Arguably the biggest outstanding commitment of the deal needs to come to fruition this year: a national pharmacare framework. Considered a historic expansion of Canada’s health-care system, failure to launch could mean the deal fizzles out.

Per the agreement, the federal government has to pass a "Canada Pharmacare Act" by the end of 2023 as a key step towards a universal national pharmacare program and a connected creation of a national formulary of essential medicines. 

While this won't mean a full-fledged program is in place by year's end, it would be progress as both the Liberals and New Democrats have pledged over successive elections to implement a national pharmacare system, and so far action has been minimal.

"We want to see a national framework for pharmacare presented in Parliament and passed in Parliament by the end of the year," Singh said. "This is the framework necessary to move forward with universal public pharmacare… If they didn't do that, they would be breaking the deal."


The two sides have also committed to move forward on a Liberal campaign promise to implement a "Homebuyer’s Bill of Rights" by the end of 2023.

Aimed at making the process of buying a home more open and transparent, this policy action comes alongside a request to tackle "the financialization of the housing market" by the end of 2023.

Some work has already begun on this promise. In the 2022 federal budget the Liberals announced plans to move forward on this set of protections for homebuyers facing unfair practices.

Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion Ahmed Hussen has been tasked with working with provinces over the next year to develop and implement a bill of rights that, according to the budget, could include "ensuring a legal right to a home inspection, and ensuring transparency on the history of sales prices on title searches."


A publicly-accessible beneficial ownership registry needs to be implemented by the end of 2023, a move aimed at cracking down on anonymous shell companies being used to conceal who owns assets.

This commitment is already in the works, after the Liberals announced in the 2022 federal budget that the government would be accelerating by two years its 2021 budget commitment to implement a public and searchable registry, making it accessible before the end of 2023 instead of 2025.

Considered "vulnerable to misuse for illegal activities, including money laundering, corruption, and tax evasion," the registry would "be scalable to allow access to the beneficial ownership data held by provinces and territories that agree to participate in a national registry," the Liberals said in the budget.


The Liberals will also have to bring forward legislation by the end of 2023 to ban the use of replacement workers when a union employer in a federally-regulated industry has locked out employees or is in the midst of a strike.

Singh has said this bill would help protect good-paying unionized jobs.

The agreement states that a so-called "anti-scab" bill needs to be tabled this year, and not necessarily passed. 




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