Howard Shuster, Don Valley East (ON)

The Employment Insurance Program in Canada offers temporary financial assistance to unemployed workers. This assistance includes providing sickness benefits to employees unable to work because of sickness, injury or quarantine and who would otherwise be available to work, with sickness benefits up to a maximum of 15 weeks. However, most cancer patients spend more than 15 weeks receiving or recovering from cancer treatment.

If elected, will your government:

A) Recognize that there is a need for a new process that recognizes that some patients, including cancer patients, experience extended periods of treatment and recovery, and hold open consultations with Canadians about how this process will be developed and implemented?

B) Use the results of these consultations to lengthen sickness benefits for Canadians undergoing treatment for cancer as well as other serious illnesses that require long periods of treatment or recovery so that Canadians who are ill are not penalized by the current limit of 15 weeks of sickness benefits?

C) Cancel the two-week waiting period for EI Sickness Benefits so that sick Canadians are not penalized?


A Liberal government will reduce the waiting period for Employment Insurance benefits to one week from two. We will end the higher 910-hour eligibility penalty for new workers and those re-entering the workforce, stopping the discrimination that makes it harder for some of Canada’s most precarious workers—including people who have left the workforce due to illness—from accessing the benefits that help them get back into the workforce. In addition, Employment Insurance processing will be a starting point for our new commitment to higher service standards in government, including waiting times. [AW2]

The Liberal Party of Canada recognizes that the current system is not working for those who need it, and we are committed to change that will ensure that the federal governments supports Canadians when they need it most. A Liberal government will be committed to ensuring those who need EI benefits can access them quickly and reliably.

Further, a Liberal government will introduce a more flexible and accessible employment insurance compassionate care benefit. Too often, people are forced to leave their jobs and drain their personal savings to provide essential care. This is unfair. That is why we will change the criteria so that it applies to any Canadian who provides care to a seriously ill family member and will allow the six month benefit to be claimed in blocks of time over a year-long period, and by allowing family members to share the six months. [AW3]

A Liberal government will be there for Canadians when they need it most.

Question 2: Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Disability Benefit is a taxable monthly payment that is available to people who have contributed to the CPP and who are not able to work regularly at any job because of a disability ( However, about 60 per cent of CPP disability claimants are initially turned down, one of the highest rejection rates for a disability insurance program among the nations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In addition, the new appeal system has still not cleared the backlog of 11,000 cases, resulting in some patients left unable to work but without benefits for years.

If elected, will your government:

A) Conduct an investigation into the reasons why 60 per cent of disability claimants are initially turned down.

B) Ensure that Canadians are informed about how to properly and successfully apply for CPP Disability Benefits.

C) Provide the tribunal with the resources it needs to quickly clear the remaining backlog of cases and ensure that necessary resources are in place to prevent the buildup of backlogs in the future.


A Liberal government will work to ensure Canadians have timely access to the disability benefits that they need and have earned and need. Making sure that Canadians are aware of the benefits available to them and how to claim them is an important first step in ensuring our social safety net remains strong. We are committed to raising the standard of service across government. We will ensure a higher standard of service, and a better client experience when Canadians interact with federal services.

We will create new performance standards for services offered by the federal government, including streamlining applications, reducing wait times, and money-back guarantees. Performance will be independently assessed and publicly reported. Reducing the appeal backlog at the Social Security Tribunal and ensuring it has the resources required to prevent such backlogs in the future will be a priority for a Liberal government.

Furthermore, the Liberal Party of Canada is committed to working with the provinces to phase in a fully funded expansion of the CPP.

Question 3: National Pharmacare Program

A new study[ii] released in July 2015 makes a compelling case for expanding our universal public health care system to include the cost of prescription medicines. In addition, a recent poll by the Angus Reid Institute found that more than 90 per cent of Canadians back the concept of pharmacare.

A) What is your party’s position on the creation of a national pharmacare program?

B) How will your party ensure that a national pharmacare program will not reduce the number of prescription medicines available to Canadian patients?

C) Will your party support a new federal equalization payment for national pharmacare so that all provinces are able to cover the same comprehensive range of prescription drugs, with timely new additions on a regular basis?


A Liberal government will work with the provinces to lower drug costs. [AW4]

Liberals know that the rising cost of prescription drugs is taking a bigger piece out of the average Canadian’s paycheque each year. [AW5] It is unacceptable that in a county as successful and as prosperous as Canada, one in ten Canadians do not fill a needed prescription because they cannot afford it and as many as one in three skip doses so the medication lasts longer. [AW6] This leads to deteriorating health and increased hospital visits, having a detrimental impact on individual health, and driving up health care costs up over the long term. We are committed to meeting with the premiers to talk about how to strengthen health care by making measurable progress on the issues that matter to Canadians.

Please keep an eye out in the days to come for more details on the Liberal plan for health care.

Question 4: National Healthcare Leadership

How would your party show leadership in work with the provinces and territories on healthcare issues?

A) Would your party modify federal transfers to the provinces so that they are age-adjusted and not just based on population numbers?

B) Please indicate other ways that your party would show federal leadership on healthcare issues.


The Liberal Party of Canada recognizes the importance of our publicly-funded universal health care system. It is a source of pride and comfort for Canadians. We believe that every Canadian must have access to timely, publically funded, quality, universal health care, regardless of background, physical needs, geographical location, or income. We believe that the quality of our health care system must be improved while maintaining its universality.

A Liberal government will call a federal-provincial meeting to reach a long-term agreement on health care funding. Together, we can make measurable progress on the issues that matter to Canadians – like wait times, the affordability of prescription drugs, the availability of homecare and community-based services, and coping with an aging population[AW7] .

We also know that investing in home and community-based services is more cost effective and provides better outcomes for patients. To this end, we will make an unprecedented $20 billion investment in social infrastructure over the next ten years that will fund t, among other things, sorely needed affordable housing for seniors, long-term care infrastructure, and seniors’ facilities.

Please keep an eye out in the days to come for more details on the Liberal plan for health care.