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G7 says no to Afghanistan evacuation extension

News

Welcome to The Hub’s Federal Election 2021 Policy Pulse, where we’ll be tracking all the policy announcements from the major parties, with instant analysis from our crew of experts.

With the election scheduled for Sept. 20, we’ll be monitoring 36 days worth of policy ideas, so watch out each morning for the day’s live blog where we’ll be tracking every announcement as it happens.

5:30 p.m. — Daily recap: O’Toole promises to protect pensions after corporate bankruptcies

The Liberals unveiled their housing plan, the Conservatives tackled corporate bankruptcies and the NDP wants to end for-profit long-term care. Here’s the rundown, with more news and analysis below.

  • Conservative leader Erin O’Toole was in Ottawa this morning promising to protect workers’ pensions in the wake of a corporate bankruptcy. 
  • NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was in Mississauga this morning with a promise to end for-profit long-term care in Canada.
  • Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was in Hamilton this morning promising to build, preserve or repair 1.4 million homes over four years to ease housing affordability issues in the country.

4:45 p.m. — G7 says no to Afghanistan evacuation extension

The Hub’s associate editor Amal Attar-Guzman provides an update on the G7 meeting held today about the crisis in Afghanistan:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended an emergency G7 meeting today called by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the increasingly dire situation in Afghanistan. Thousands of Afghan citizens and interpreters, as well as other foreign nationals, are currently outside of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul attempting to flee the country.

G7 leaders convened to discuss whether they will extend the evacuation deadline of August 31st, despite the Taliban’s claims that an extension is a red line, and have warned “consequences” if there was a delay.

Despite Johnson’s push for the extension, U.S. President Joe Biden and others have decided not to extend August 31st evacuation deadline. Canadian Armed Forces and other allied armed forces will have a week to evacuate as many people as they can before the deadline. After the deadline, people will not be able to leave Afghanistan.

Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid has said the Taliban will not allow Afghan citizens to leave the country, unlike foreign nationals.

Trudeau had promised that 20,000 Afghan refugees will be resettled into Canada, including former interpreters who have aided the Canadian forces while in Afghanistan. After the G7 meeting, before boarding the campaign bus in Hamilton, Trudeau said Canada was prepared to stay past the 31st deadline.

More than 1,100 Afghans have left on Canadian evacuation flights but with the rejected extended deadline, Canada and its allies will now have to ramp up the evacuation process.

The ongoing crisis has seized the attention of Canadians and foreign policy experts have urged the major parties to recognize the importance of international affairs in the election campaign.

3:30 p.m. — Matching funds could help young Canadians save for a home

The Hub’s content editor L. Graeme Smith and editor-at-large Sean Speer suggest a different way to help young Canadians save for their first home:

With Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau’s housing announcement today — including a commitment to build 1.4 million homes over four years — we now have substantive housing policy promises from each of the major parties.

They’ve clearly internalized growing public concerns about housing affordability in our major urban centres in particular and elsewhere in the country more generally. A 25-percent increase in year-over-year housing prices was doubtless bound to capture political attention.

The proposed policies have converged in some cases such as a ban on homeownership for non-residents or new conditions on federal dollars tied to provincial and local land-use reforms. And differed in others such as the Liberal proposal for a Home Buyers’ Bill of Rights or the NDP’s proposal for a massive increase in social housing units or the Conservative proposal to review the federal government’s real estate holdings and release at least 15% for housing use.

One interesting feature of the Liberal Party’s policy package is a promise to create a new, preferential Tax-Free Savings Account for first-time homebuyers though the details are sparse.

Notwithstanding that the Trudeau government rolled back the maximum annual contribution level from $10,000 to $5,500 in 2016, the new proposal would set a preferential $40,000 limit for first-time home-buyers in order to save for a down payment. (Had the government merely left the TFSA limit unchanged, Canadians would now nearly have access to the same amount of incremental tax-free savings room as is being proposed.)

An obvious challenge with the Liberal proposal is that most young Canadians don’t have sufficient savings to utilize such a high contribution limit. The risk therefore is that the preferential savings limit benefits a minority of those trying to save for a down payment. (The Liberal Party made a similar argument incidentally when it first committed to rolling back the TFSA limit in the 2015 election campaign.)

One way to address this challenge would be to establish a matching fund model that operates on a means-tested basis. Its policy design would resemble the current Registered Education Savings Plans or Registered Disability Savings Plans models. It could be constrained to savings for housing or could be used to help low-income Canadians save more generally.

Such an approach would address any concerns about the Liberal policy’s progressivity and may ultimately help more young Canadians save to buy a home.

2:50 p.m. — Health-care announcements like ‘pouring more water into a bucket with a hole’

Shawn Whatley, a Macdonald-Laurier Institute Munk Senior Fellow and the author of When Politics Comes Before Patients: Why and How Canadian Medicare is Failing, examines recent health-care announcements:

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau announced yesterday a $3 billion plan to hire and incent more family medicine practitioners. Additionally, the Liberals are pledging an additional $6 billion to address Canada’s wait list crisis.

For their part, the Conservatives have promised to increase the growth rate of Canada Health Transfers by at least 6 percent, which they say will “inject nearly $60 billion” into the healthcare system over the next decade, specifically focusing on mental health and addiction support. 

These are well-meaning announcements; Canadians have unequal access to doctors who run point on providing health services to Canadians. Those in Northern, rural, and remote areas are acutely underserviced, and so additional targeted investments into fixing this problem are of course welcome. Mental health and addiction are chronically undertreated in this country and have long contributed to strain on the overall system.

However, these policies are akin to pouring more water into a bucket with a hole. The reality is, Canada’s healthcare system is fundamentally broken, and it is broken beyond the point where simply throwing more money at the problem will fix it.

Overcrowding, hallway medicine, shortages in long-term care, world-famous wait times, technology shortages, and spiralling costs are just a few of the problems facing our beleaguered healthcare system. Canada has 2.5 hospital beds per capita, versus the OECD average of 4.7. Vague spending promises divided over several years, ten provinces, and three territories are simply insufficient.  

The problems stem from how healthcare in this country is structured. With unlimited, open-ended demand, no competition driving efficiencies and innovation, and priorities often being set from Ottawa, Canadians end up paying more than the OECD average to receive worse care on average.

If political parties want to be serious about fixing Canada’s healthcare woes, they would start by looking at what reforms can be made to the Canada Health Act to ensure universal access while also introducing the competitive best-practices observed in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Sweden, Switzerland, or other more stronger-performing jurisdictions.

2:00 p.m. — The crisis in Afghanistan marks the end of an era in world politics

As the G7 meets today to discuss the chaos in Afghanistan, international relations expert Zack Paikin argues that the ongoing crisis has major implications for how Canadians should conceive of their country’s role in the world. Paikin writes:

As our political parties campaign across the country, it’s a perfect time to ask some hard questions about Canada’s foreign policy ambitions.

The post-Cold War era has been marked by a Western effort to construct a liberal world order. In truth, this project had already failed several years ago.

Two major events in 2021 undeniably prove that this historical period has ended: the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

Read the whole piece at The Hub.

12:15 p.m. — Canada’s trade policy should not sacrifice quality for quantity

The Hub contributor Brent H. Cameron examines a key plank in the Conservative platform on trade:

A recent article in the Financial Post questioned the utility of the Conservative Party’s proposal to negotiate quadrilateral trade and free movement agreements among the so-called CANZUK countries — Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Economists cited in the article argue that the benefits up and beyond the status quo would be marginal and therefore the negotiation efforts would not be justified. They assert that the CPTPP already gives Canada preferential access to two of the countries, and potentially all, if Britain joins.

Arguments against CANZUK almost invariably take a quantitative approach to trade — a focus on the volume of trade, and the number of prospective new consumers for Canadian goods and services. This is how we rationalize any trade deal, by narrowly concerning ourselves with how much we can buy and sell.

Yet, if this was all there was to it, presumably globalization would be more popular than it is. Why is something that is supposed to be so inherently good for our economy face such opposition?

The perceived failure of globalization has not been one of maximizing the quantity of trading arrangements, but in ignoring their relative quality.

According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, in 2017 the United States did nearly as much bilateral trade with China as with Canada — $659.4 billion compared to $662.7 billion.

Conventional wisdom holds that the relationships are equal. Yet, with Canada, the U.S. earned a surplus of $11.9 billion — the equivalent of $0.02 on the dollar. With China? A loss of $336.2 billion, or $0.51 on the dollar. Nearly the same amounts of two-way trade but a much different result.

The allegation of comparing apples to oranges might hold if it were not for the fact that the U.S. numbers that same year for India — also in Asia, also a low-wage producer and with a billion people — produced a deficit to the U.S. equivalent to $0.35 per dollar.

So, what about CANZUK? Well, in 2015, Canada enjoyed an $11.9 billion surplus on $662.7 billion of combined bilateral trade with the other three countries, or 2 cents on the dollar — exactly the U.S. advantage over us two years later.

Compatibility makes America’s trade with Canada and India fairer than with China. It also makes Canada’s trade with the other CANZUK countries as close to full balance as one can get with such volumes.

Companies know that the balance between profit and loss is just as important as the sales figures, and yet we do not apply those lessons to our trade with the broader world. Economists may concern themselves with the volume of trade, but to a large portion of the population it is the direction that decides whether there is money for a mortgage or a child’s education.

CANZUK deals with this and can go far beyond an agreement like CPTPP — into areas such as free movement, mutual recognition of educational and professional credentials, research and development, humanitarian efforts and security, while preserving Canadian sovereignty and Canadian jobs.

We’ve tried free trade for decades. Maybe we should try fairer and more balanced trade for a change.

11:40 a.m. — It’s a good sign that we’re talking about inflation

In the first week of the campaign, questions about inflation and the Bank of Canada’s mandate have emerged as important ones for the party leaders.

The Hub’s editor-at-large Sean Speer spoke to Yahoo Finance’s Crisis Management podcast on why heightened attention on these issues is healthy for Canadian democracy and public policy.

Listen to the podcast here.

11:10 a.m. — Economist Rob Gillezeau on the competing housing plans

View the whole thread on Twitter.

10:30 a.m. — NDP promises to end for-profit long-term care in Canada

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was in Mississauga this morning with a promise to end for-profit long-term care in Canada.

Singh also promised to develop national care standards and boost wages for long-term care workers.

10:10 a.m. — O’Toole promises to protect pensions after corporate bankruptcies

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole was in Ottawa this morning promising to protect workers’ pensions in the wake of a corporate bankruptcy.

Along with ensuring pensioners have priority over “corporate elites” in the event of a bankruptcy or restructuring, O’Toole also promised to prevent executives from getting bonuses during a restructuring if the pension plan is not fully funded.

9:00 a.m. — How should policymakers navigate the new great power rivalry?

Take a short break from the election campaign with our fascinating new interview on the world’s shifting geopolitical situation.

In this Hub Dialogue, The Hub’s editor-at-large Sean Speer speaks to Thomas Wright, the author of  Aftershocks: Pandemic Politics and the End of the Old International Order, which is in stores today.

Read an excerpt below or check out the entire interview.

Sean Speer

Canada increasingly finds itself stuck in the middle of a great power rivalry between its first and second largest trading partners. The consequences of that have manifested in various ways including the unlawful detention of two Canadians in China, the increasing unreliability of our bilateral relationship with the United States and so on.

If you were advising Canadian policymakers about how best to navigate the new world that the book outlines, what would your advice be? How should Canada position itself if we are indeed on the cusp of the end of the international order?

Thomas Wright

It’s a great question. I think Canada has a very strong interest in a robust response by like-minded countries on doing more to provide global public goods, especially in pandemic preparedness, but also in a number of other areas. We are currently coming up short at the G7.

Take global vaccinations. There were 870 million vaccines committed to developing countries, but that’s much less than even 10 percent of the estimated 11 billion vaccines that are required, according by the WHO. I worried that there’s was a lack of urgency, particularly in the United States and the EU, possibly because of the size and significance of the affected countries. So, I think that Canada, Australia, Japan, and others have a vital role to play in underscoring these issues and stepping up to the mark.

One other point on China: Canada has had a very grueling experience with China over the last few years. There is a shared interest amongst democracies to stand up for the freedom of speech, the right to be able to criticize, for human rights and other things. I think Canada and Australia must also have the right not to be coerced by a larger power. Canada has an extremely important role in shaping how we affirm and the get control of the situation, and don’t allow it to deteriorate further.

8:30 a.m. — Trudeau promises to build or repair 1.4 million homes over four years

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was in Hamilton this morning promising to build, preserve or repair 1.4 million homes over four years to ease housing affordability issues in the country.

Trudeau’s promise is similar to a recent Conservative pledge to build a million homes over the next three years, with both parties looking to tackle the supply side of Canada’s housing shortage.

The Liberal leader also promised to double the first-time home buyers tax credit, create a “rent to own” program and create a Home Buyers’ Bill of Rights, which will ban blind-bidding. The plan will also ban foreign nationals from buying homes in Canada for two years.

Trudeau also introduced “first home savings accounts,” which will allow Canadians under 40 to save up to $40,000 tax-free towards their first home purchase.

7:00 a.m. — Where the leaders are today

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau will be in Hamilton to make a housing announcement at 8 a.m.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole will be in Ottawa to make an announcement at 10:00 a.m.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh will be in Mississauga to make an announcement on long-term care at 10:30 a.m.

After the crisis in Afghanistan, Canada’s role in the world should be an urgent issue in the campaign

News

Welcome to The Hub’s Federal Election 2021 Policy Pulse, where we’ll be tracking all the policy announcements from the major parties, with instant analysis from our crew of experts.

With the election scheduled for Sept. 20, we’ll be monitoring 36 days worth of policy ideas, so watch out each morning for the day’s live blog where we’ll be tracking every announcement as it happens.

5:30 p.m. — Daily recap: Trudeau promises billions for health care

The Liberals showcased the party’s health-care policies and the Conservatives made an appeal to workers. Here’s the rundown, with more news and analysis below. Visit the Day 9 live blog for our full day of content.

  • Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was in Halifax this morning promising to spend $6 billion to reduce wait times in the health-care system and to hire 7,500 doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners, costing $3.5 billion.
  • Conservative leader Erin O’Toole promised to give workers representation on the board of directors of large federally-regulated employers. The new rule would apply to federally-regulated employers with more than 1,000 employees or more than $100 million in annual revenue.

4:30 p.m. — After the crisis in Afghanistan, Canada’s role in the world should be an urgent issue in the election campaign

The Hub’s associate editor Amal Attar-Guzman examines The Hub’s new polling data on Afghanistan:

The past week, scores of Canadians were saddened (28 percent) and horrified (24 percent) by the situation occurring in Afghanistan, according to a poll conducted for The Hub by Public Square Research in partnership with Maru/Blue.

In light of recent events, context is needed to understand Canada’s past and recent involvement in Afghanistan, and how they tie into the present situation.

A few days after 9/11, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1368 condemning the terrorist attacks. In early October 2001, the United States announced the beginning of armed operations in Afghanistan against al Qaeda and the Taliban. Subsequently, Canada announced its contribution of sea, land and air forces in the operation. For 12 years, under the governments of Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, and Stephen Harper, Canada would participate in various operations in Afghanistan.

However, due to increasing causalities, declining public support, and the shifting political environment, once the extended mission was completed in 2011, the withdrawal process began. The last 100 CAF members finally left Afghanistan in 2014. From 2001 to 2014, more than 40,000 CAF members served in Afghanistan. In all, 158 CAF members died, along with seven civilians. In the course of the war, more than 2,000 CAF members got injured.

Canadian foreign aid has been allocated to Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development, as well as to improve women’s rights and the living conditions of rural areas. From 2001-2013, $1.63 billion was spent, as well as close to $1 billion post-withdrawal. In the latter period, $966 million was invested on initiatives focused on empowering and supporting Afghan women and girls.

With Kabul falling, not only were Afghans’ lives at risk, Canada’s sacrifices and initiatives fell into jeopardy. CAF personnel were deployed to Kabul last week to aid in the evacuation of Afghan citizens, interpreters, and foreign nationals.

According to our recent polling, eight in 10 are very or somewhat supportive of Canada’s response so far and a large majority (69 percent) think that people who cooperated with Canada and the U.S. are in danger.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced that his government is aiming to rescue and relocate 20,000 Afghan refugees in Canada. Majorities of Canadians support the initiative, especially 85 per cent of those aged 18 to 34. Currently, approximately 1,000 Afghan refugees are settled in Canada. Close to half (46 percent) think that Canada is doing enough to help, while 33 per cent disagree.

With how Afghanistan unfolding, questions about Canada’s role in the world may be an underlying theme throughout the remainder of the election campaign. The Prime Minister will be attending an emergency G7 meeting on Afghanistan on August 24th and today, he stated that Canada will support G7 sanctions against the Taliban. How this will impact the situation, Canadian public opinion, and the electoral outcome, we will just have to wait and see.

3:30 p.m. — Private clinics could be a vital release valve for post-COVID backlogs

The Hub contributor Joanna Baron examines an under-discussed part of the private health care debate:

The ongoing campaign flap about private health care masks the real looming disaster in the form of delayed surgeries and medical procedures due to COVID-19. 

Private clinics have been vital release valves. In B.C., Health Minister Adrian Dix led a rare success story by clearing up 95 percent of his province’s surgical backlog within a year. He did this by contracting out to the province’s many private clinics and waiving rules which forbid “private” physicians from operating on “public” patients.

In Quebec, the prohibition against physicians treating both publicly insured as well as self-paying patients was also waived, and Health Minister Christian Dubé announced he had signed contracts with more than 20 private clinics.

Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole is correct to emphasize the limits of federal control over health care administration. The Supreme Court of Canada has affirmed that the federal Canada Health Act, while it mandates a universal health care system, does not prohibit private clinics from operating. That is the work of provincial laws — and the provinces are free to make pragmatic decisions to mitigate post-pandemic damage.

3:00 p.m. — Massive infusions of cash tend to lead to stasis, not transformation, in health care

The Hub’s content editor L. Graeme Smith and editor-at-large Sean Speer examine today’s Liberal health-care announcement:

Today Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau committed $6 billion in new federal funding for provincial and territorial health care. It follows the Conservative Party’s promise to boost the Canada Health Transfer’s growth rate back to “at least 6 percent” per year.

We effectively have a multi-partisan consensus that the federal government must increase federal health transfers in order to improve the performance of provincial and territorial health-care systems.

The problem, though, is modern history suggests otherwise. The 2003-04 Health Accord, which was supposed to “fix health care for a generation,” was basically a big failure. The massive infusion of federal dollars didn’t lead to transformative changes. Instead it essentially bought stasis. Spending rose. Wait-times grew. And the relative performance of Canada’s health-care system fell.

Saskatchewan’s former NDP finance minister Janice Mackinnon, who served in the provincial legislature from 1991 to 2003, attributes the lack of progress to the federal dollars themselves.

As she explained in a 2013 interview with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute:

I think what prevented change was the money coming from the federal government to the provinces. Why would you change your system and make tough choices if you can just tell some other level of government, “give me money so I don’t have to close these hospitals or I don’t have to have a doctor strike.” It was the money that was coming that was preventing change not the big tough federal government.

In fact, the history of health-care reform in Canada has tended to correlate with periods of more circumscribed federal involvement. There are various reasons for this — including the perverse incentives associated with an infusion of federal dollars that Mackinnon cites as well as the limits of top-down, centralized priority setting.

The key lesson, then, is that these early campaign commitments of more federal funding for provincial and territorial health-care system are an example of a multi-partisan consensus in which Canadians’ health care would be better served by a case of political divergence.

2:30 p.m. — O’Toole’s worker policies represent a significant shift

The Hub contributor Ben Woodfinden examines the Conservative announcement today:

While it has received relatively little attention, there’s a section of the Conservative platform that represents a substantial departure from previous Tory orthodoxy. The Conservatives say they “will give workers a real voice and the support they need against major multinational corporations.” The platform includes a variety of different promises, O’Toole on Monday highlighted one of these proposals requiring large federally regulated employers to include worker representation on their boards of directors.

With some of these promises the Tories are clearly trying to make a pitch for the “realignment” blue collar voters that have been crucial in reshaping politics in Britain and America. We’ll only know whether this is successful after the election, but the significance of the federal Conservative Party using this kind of language and appealing explicitly to blue collar and union voters should not be dismissed.

Progressives and NDP stalwarts will probably dismiss the move as disingenuous. Plenty of Conservative Party members and MPs probably aren’t enthusiastic about the shift either. But in the event that this shift is successful for the Conservatives we could be seeing a very different Conservative coalition in Canada going forward.

2:00 p.m. — Is giving workers a role in business decisions good for companies? The results are mixed

The Hub’s editor-at-large Sean Speer and content editor L. Graeme Smith take a look at the research on co-determination:

Today Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole committed to require large federally-regulated companies to include worker representation on their boards of directors.

This practice, which is present in some European countries, including France and Germany, is known as “co-determination.” The basic idea (which can take different forms) is to give workers a role in influencing the business decisions and overall direction of their companies.

The question, of course, is: what are the effects of worker representation on boards of directors?

The research is a bit mixed. It seems to suggest though that, on balance, co-determination can have some modest benefits for workers and firms.

A 2020 study in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, for instance, found that co-determination in Germany had no impact on wages, the wage structure, the labor share, revenue, employment or profitability of the firm, but it increased capital investment.

A 2021 study by the Bureau of Economic Research similarly found that “the European model of codetermination is neither a panacea for all of the problems faced by 21st-century workers, nor a destructive institution that is dramatically inferior to shareholder primacy. Rather, as currently implemented, it is a moderate institution with, on net, nonexistent or small positive effects. Board-level and shop-floor worker representation cause at most small increases in wages, possibly lead to slight increases in job security and satisfaction, and have largely zero or small positive effects on firm performance.”

If The Hub community is looking for competing views on the idea of co-determination, this 2019 discussion between Columbia Law School research fellow Kate Waldock and University of Chicago economist Luigi Zingales is interesting and informative.

12:45 p.m. — Doubling the disability supplement could help reduce poverty rates

The Hub’s editor-at-large Sean Speer examines the Conservative promise to double the disability supplement in the Canada Workers Benefit:

Over the weekend, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole announced a series of disability-related policy commitments, including a promise to double the disability supplement in the Canada Workers Benefit.

The goal of the Canada Workers Benefit (and its disability supplement) is, in colloquial terms, to “make work pay” by smoothing out the marginal effective tax rates that low-income workers face.

Although the Canada Workers Benefit (which is the subject of multi-partisan support) has seen increases in recent years — including a significant one in the 2021 budget — the disability supplement has grown less steadily. It last got a boost in 2019 when it went up by $160 to total of $700.

The Conservatives’ proposed increase, which would raise the disability supplement from $713 to $1,500, would help to offset the loss of benefits for Canadians with disabilities who participate in the workforce.

Boosting work-related support for disabled Canadians has been called for by disability groups in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent research by University of Toronto professors has shown that Canadians with disabilities or those with chronic health conditions have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Almost half of the study’s respondents, for instance, reported that COVID-19 was affecting their ability to pay down debt, make rent and utility payments, or purchase groceries.

The challenges facing Canadians with disabilities aren’t limited to COVID-19 either. Joint research by the Public Policy Forum and Future Skills Centre found that among Canadians aged 25 to 64, the rate of poverty is 40 percent higher for persons with mild disabilities and nearly 200 percent higher for those with more severe disabilities than it is for Canadians without disabilities.

This in large part a function of poor employment outcomes. The pre-pandemic employment rate among working-age Canadians with disabilities was about 60 percent, compared to 80 percent for those without disabilities. (The number is barely 30 percent for Canadians with severe disabilities.)

To the extent that doubling the disability supplement can help more Canadians with disabilities become attached to the workforce, it will raise employment levels and in turn should reduce poverty rates.

11:40 a.m. — Policy expert Samuel Hammond on the Conservative announcement

11:30 a.m. — O’Toole promises to give workers representation on boards of federally-regulated employers

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole promised to give workers representation on the board of directors of large federally-regulated employers.

Speaking in Ottawa this morning, O’Toole said the new rule would apply to federally-regulated employers with more than 1,000 employees or more than $100 million in annual revenue.

The Conservative plan would apply to federally-regulated sectors like aerospace, oil and gas, telecommunications and other industries, which employ hundreds of thousands of Canadians, the party says.

10:00 a.m. — Exclusive poll: Majority of Canadians think Afghanistan withdrawal was the right decision

A majority of Canadians think it was the right decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, although they are worried about the consequences, according to an exclusive new poll conducted for The Hub by Public Square Research in partnership with Maru/Blue.

Fifty-four percent of Canadians think U.S. President Joe Biden did the right thing by withdrawing American forces from Afghanistan after nearly 20 years of conflict.

But since the withdrawal began in early August the crisis has exploded, with NATO countries scrambling to get diplomats, staff and military members out of the country. On Aug. 15, the Taliban seized Kabul, shocking the global community by the speed of their success and sparking a rush to the city’s airport as people tried to flee.

Even now, the airport has been surrounded by crowds so large that seven Afghan civilians have been trampled to death. On the campaign trail, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been peppered with questions about what the country is doing to evacuate and resettle Afghans who have co-operated with Canadian forces.

It’s clear from the polling that Canadians are distressed about the situation.

When asked to list their biggest concerns about a Taliban-led Afghanistan, Canadians mostly focused on the mistreatment of women. Seventy-seven percent of respondents said that was their main concern, with 69 percent of people saying they were concerned that people who co-operated with Canada and the U.S. would be in danger. Sixty-six percent were concerned about an increase in terrorist attacks, while 61 percent were concerned about broader instability in the region.

As they travel the country campaigning for the upcoming Sept. 20 election, all the party leaders have fielded questions about the ongoing crisis. Canadians have mixed feelings about which leader would be best to handle the crisis.

Twenty-eight percent of Canadians think Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is the best person to handle the withdrawal, while 22 percent of Canadians think it is Erin O’Toole. Seventeen percent of Canadians say NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is the best person to handle it, while 26 percent say none of these leaders are capable of handling the crisis.

Although the campaign kicked off in the middle of August, when many Canadians are on summer holidays and less likely to be paying attention to the news, the country has been watching closely while the crisis in Afghanistan unfolds.

Eighty-three percent of Canadians are aware of the situation in Afghanistan, with 23 percent saying they are very aware and 60 percent saying they are somewhat aware.

Only four percent of Canadians said they are not aware of the news at all.

Canadians also have strong feelings about the situation. Sixty-six percent of Canadians said the situation is important to them, with 16 percent saying it’s very important and 50 percent saying it’s somewhat important.

Eighty-eight percent of Canadians support the country’s commitment to resettle 20,000 vulnerable Afghans threatened by the Taliban and who are forced to flee. 42 percent are very supportive and 37 percent are somewhat supportive.

This pledge by Trudeau’s government has been uncontroversial on the campaign trail too, with O’Toole promising to honour it if his party forms government.

Canadians aged 18 to 34 are more supportive of welcoming Afghan refugees, by far, with 85 percent supporting the commitment. Seventy-six percent of Canadians 55 years old and older support the commitment.

While Canadians told pollsters they are “horrified” by the scenes out of Kabul recently, it’s not clear that they think Canada can do anything to calm the situation.

Forty-six percent of Canadians say Canada is doing enough to help so far and 21 percent say that Canada is already doing more than enough. Thirty-three percent say Canada is not doing nearly enough to help people in Afghanistan. People aged 18 to 34 are most inclined to say that Canada is not doing enough, with 39 percent urging more action.

Seventy percent of Canadians believe the Taliban should not be recognized as the government in Afghanistan. Both Trudeau and O’Toole agree on this, despite some waffling by Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau.

Nineteen percent of Canadians said they weren’t sure and 7 percent said Canada should recognize the Taliban.

This research was conducted with an online survey of 1,500 Canadians who were selected from the Maru Voice panel. Although the data have been weighted to reflect the make-up of the country, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated because the respondents originally self-selected for the panel.

9:15 a.m. — Liberals promise to spend $6 billion to reduce health-care wait times

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was in Halifax this morning promising to spend $6 billion to reduce wait times in the health-care system.

Trudeau also promised that under a Liberal government, 7,500 doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners would be hired, costing $3.5 billion.

7:00 a.m. — Exclusive polling released later today

Stay tuned for exclusive polling from The Hub on the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan and how it may affect the election campaign.

6:00 a.m. — The leaders’ daily schedule

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole will make an announcement at 11 a.m. in Ottawa.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh will make an announcement in Montreal about climate change at 9 a.m.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau will be in Halifax to make an announcement about health care at 9:30 a.m. local time (8:30 a.m. ET).

Sunday — O’Toole promises action on opioid epidemic

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole promised to treat the opioid epidemic as a health-crisis by injecting $325 million over three years to create 1,000 new treatment beds and build 50 recovery centres across Canada. O’Toole was campaigning in Westminster, British Columbia.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said his party would introduce a bill to urge Elections Canada to rename the riding of Toronto–Danforth to Danforth–Layton, to honour the party’s former leader Jack Layton.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau attended campaign events in New Brunswick and P.E.I.

Saturday — Singh keeps hammering away on housing 

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole was in Edmonton on Saturday to announce a plan to increase the disability supplement of the Canada Workers Benefit from $713 to $1,500. The plan would also lower the amount of hours — from 14 per week to 10 per week — that are required to qualify for the disability tax credit and Registered Disability Savings Plan.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was in Toronto on Saturday to promise $5,000 in rental support for families.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau took a break from the campaign trail on Saturday.