Katie Omstead, Chatham-Kent-Leamington (ON)

First, to Question 1, 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 reentering 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. 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.
A Liberal government will be there for Canadians when they need it most.

Question 2,

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
Liberals know that the rising cost of prescription drugs is taking a bigger piece out of the average Canadian’s paycheque each year. 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. 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,

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, publially 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.

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 , 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.