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My thoughts on a Covid-19 Economic Recovery Plan

I hope that you and your family are healthy and safe. I am writing this online message to let you know what the Broadbent Institute has been doing with respect to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

First, let me say that my heart goes out to all of the people who have had to endure the very worst of this crisis. A great many Canadian families have had to grapple with illness, and even death, and I grieve with them. The anxiety and uncertainty created by the pandemic is affecting us all. 

And, all of us are grateful to those who have found themselves working on the frontlines. At great risk to themselves and their families they have kept the rest of us safe. We owe them a huge debt of thanks! 

Yes, the last few months have been grueling. And yet, despite so many hardships Canadians have come together to support each other. When I’m in my local grocery store, I’ve noticed that customers are patient with the long line-ups and grateful to the frontline staff. 

“In the face of ongoing difficulty, this resilience and empathy of Canadians has been clearly evident.”

Though I was a young child during WWII, I grew up with the stories of those times. The Canadian perseverance we’re witnessing now harkens back to that war-time era and its aftermath. The hardship of the 1930s and the war produced a yearning for real change, a feeling that as a nation we wanted things to be different, not a repetition of the old order. 

Coming out of the war there was a belief that all Canadians would have a truly equal opportunity, that we all should prosper together. And that social services would be developed to ensure this would happen. The promise was that these programs would be paid for by a fair tax system that expected the wealthiest people and the most profitable corporations to pay their fair share. As a result, the post-war decades did provide for greater and greater equality. Although some were left out – notably Indigenous peoples and some minorities - many Canadians experienced a positive transformation in their lives. 

However, beginning in the 1980s the old inequalities emerged again. Big corporations, their lobbyists, and political supporters got the laws and regulations bent to once again favour themselves. And now, we read daily headlines of corporations and billionaires hiding their money with impunity in offshore tax havens, and being granted access to other favorable tax loopholes. Consequently, our governments don’t have the revenue they need to get the job done. 

“It is clear that just as the forces of inequality are unrelenting, so must be our resolve to fight back!” 

Thanks to our minority federal government, with the NDP leveraging its balance of power, we have seen many useful measures taken to protect working people and our local communities from economic and social ruin. In British Columbia, the progressive work of Premier John Horgan’s government has been a model of provincial leadership.

It’s in this context that I have some good news and I hope you will consider sharing it with your family, friends and neighbors. We have just completed a nationwide poll on the kind of government response Canadians want as we emerge from this pandemic - The results are heartening.

The results of the Broadbent Institute’s new nationwide poll point the way to a shared appetite for more democratic policies and reforms that would further protect our communities as we emerge from this crisis.

“I believe that we Canadians can now establish a new consensus on what we need for serious social and economic reforms.” 

Our national poll found that 3 out of 4 people believe that Canada should implement a wealth tax, a measure endorsed by supporters of all our political parties. And there’s more… here are some other highlights from our national poll:

  • 97% of people surveyed believe the long-term care health system must be improved
  • 81% believe that corporations should not be allowed to use offshore tax havens
  • 95% agree that we need to strengthen our healthcare system and improve services
  • 77% of Canadians believe the federal government should offer new support to municipalities
  • 89% of those surveyed agree that there needs to be paid sick leave and a living wage for all Canadian workers!

As I’ve always believed, a solid majority of Canadians have progressive values in their bones. We are a country of compassionate people who want to stand-up for one another. And we want our governments to enable us to do so.

So why don’t we get more progressive governments if people like these progressive policies? 

I think going forward maybe we can. Coming out of the COVID-19 crisis, instead of going back to the old status quo we can mobilize for progressive change. 

“We need to connect people with the policies they like and benefit from, directly to the politics they should support.”

We can all expect that once the pandemic is brought under control that conservative politicians will start their deficit fear-mongering. They will be joined by their ideological body of “experts” in society who would take us back to the old and unjust status quo. Instead of tax reform and increasing tax revenue, they will advocate massive cuts to our public services. Our schools, hospitals, and infrastructure will all be at risk for damaging cuts and privatization if they get their way.  

By and large, Canadians do not agree with Stephen Harper who recently told The Wall Street Journal that it’s time for governments to move back to austerity as soon as possible.

In the coming months we must be diligent. We must actively reject calls for austerity. We should instead champion effective government, and the equitable tax reform that makes it possible.

“I don’t need to tell you that austerity would be a disaster on top of a disaster - the completely wrong way to go!”

As individual citizens we have limited means to advance progressive political ideas and hold the powerful to account. However, one major tool we do have is the work of the Broadbent Institute with its many publications, tools, resources, and projects for engagement. 

The Institute was designed and built to give power back to individuals like us. To provide us with tools for organizing. To assist us in sharing ideas for a more just Canada with our friends and neighbors. As an active participant in the work the Broadbent Institute produces, you are in fact helping to hold the powerful accountable.

Recently, the Broadbent Institute produced a series of innovative publications. and developed an online COVID-19 Resources and Response Centre for all Canadians to access and benefit from. I’m sure you read many of these pieces on our website.

In addition, our news website PressProgress recently launched the COVID-19 Special Investigations Project to tell the stories mainstream media have been missing. We’ve prioritized news stories aimed at keeping Canadians safe and holding the powerful accountable. Our stories include a series on unsafe working conditions at Amazon, Walmart, Cargill, Tim Hortons and other corporate giants - exposing their willingness to put their own workers in harm’s way. The work of PressProgress helped make all of this national news.

To bring like-minded persons together at a time of isolation, our online Leadership and Training School has developed a Digital Convening Series to create in-depth discussion on the issues and challenges that Canadians must confront, both during this pandemic and beyond.

Lastly, we assembled experts from across multiple disciplines to join our Essential Solutions Project that generates innovative answers to the complex challenges we face right now, and charts a path towards a more equitable and resilient future for all of us.

I want to say a word about our staff. I hope you’ve been pleased with their exceptional work. It’s because of smart, engaged, and active people like them that the Broadbent Institute has been able to produce the progressive ideas and projects that have made a real difference in Canadian’s lives. 

Today I’m pleased to invite you to join us in a direct and relevant way, to sustain our work. The past few months have made it evident we need more reliable monthly funding from our supporters like you, to ensure we can withstand any situation or crisis and continue to produce such high quality work. 

I’m sure you’d agree the work the Broadbent Institute is doing is to the benefit of all Canadians.

"We are better off with an organization like ours that champions progressive policy, holds the powerful to account, and gives power back to individual citizens."

That’s why I’m inviting you today to join our Friends of Progress monthly giving program. Your support each month will ensure we continue to produce the highest quality content you benefit from, enjoy, and share with your friends.

Please take a moment to click here and choose a monthly gift that feels right for you. In return, we’ll make sure you stay up to date with all of our work, informed about upcoming events, and get the latest news from our website. And, of course, you’ll have my sincere gratitude.

This year with your help we are going to champion the benefits of progressive change like never before! We are going to lead a charge to call for major tax reforms, increased public funding, improved and expanded healthcare, and an end to austerity budgets.

We want you on board. I hope you can join us today.

Please stay safe, and stay tuned, we’ve got lots in the works!

With warmest regards,


Ed Broadbent