As social workers, we labour in solidarity with our clients, organizations and communities, and with Nova Scotians who are vulnerable, oppressed and dealing with the hurtful outcomes of society. Our profession is committed to social justice, and is mandated by our code of ethics to work for a society that promotes social, economic, political, and cultural equality for all people. A critical analysis of election platforms, to understand how their positions will impact the people who we serve, is a helpful process.
As part of our mandate to serve the public good, the NSCSW has completed an analysis of each party’s positions, through the lens of the social policy framework that we developed with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS).
The NSCSW remains a non-partisan organization; these evaluations are not endorsements of one party over another. However, these policy notes can be utilized by social workers and members of the public to help assess how party policy aligns with their own values and goals.
Nova Scotia New Democrat Party
The NDP platform receives an A minus for its efforts to create greater equity and equality.
Summary of findings
The NDP platform connects evidence-based intersectional data through the 10 policy principles laid out in the CCPA-NS/NSCSW social policy framework. There is a significant focus on addressing social determinants of health and caregiving which are important interconnected principles. There is a clear push for decent work and well-being and social inclusion. The NDP’s platform put forward an ambitious plan for climate justice and the plan is committed to decolonization and commits to implementing all provincial calls to action through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
While many of the principles are addressed, further policy is needed in areas of public provision, shared governance and universality. The NDP platform lacks a clear commitment to build 33,000 housing units over the next 10 years, a commitment to creating universal access to programs that strengthen families, and a commitment to press the federal government for a stronger commitment to social transfers.
Liberal Party of Nova Scotia
The Liberal platform receives a C.
Summary of findings
By not fully utilizing the 10 policy principles laid out in the framework, the Liberal platform misses several vital opportunities to create greater equality and equity.
The Liberal platform does have some clear strengths, particularly a commitment to the new Canada-Nova Scotia Early Learning & Child Care Agreement, which will ensure affordable, high-quality, inclusive childcare and early learning, and support parents, especially women, to enter or re-enter the labour force. The platform also takes important steps to address the systemic racism in our province through the justice institute. There are also important policy positions regarding climate justice.
However, there are substantial opportunities missed by not addressing the social determinants of health or working to redefine primary care through a collaborative model. The platform does not commit to updating dated labour laws , including minimum wage. Most troubling of course is the Liberal party’s fiscal framework, which will bring about more austerity, managerialism and under-investments in social and health services.
Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia
The PC platform receives a C minus.
Summary of findings
The PC party does make a significant commitment to the principle of universality in their mental health platform, and recognizes that the long-term care sector needs significant investments, creating the potential for greater social inclusion. There are also commitments to increased democratization, through local decision-making around doctor recruitment and re-exploring school board models. It is also commendable that the PCs are not promoting austerity, and are taking advantage of low-interest rates and Nova Scotia’s healthy debt-to-GDP ratio in Nova Scotia to borrow for investing in people and expanding the economy.
What is very troublesome about the PC platform is its lack of focus on equity and the lack of policy regarding decolonization and systemic racism. It also misses an opportunity to address growing a green economy by putting forward a meaningful plan for climate justice. Instead, the PC platform relies on old and largely debunked trickle-down economic strategies and avoids the need to explore Nova Scotia’s dated labour standards including its grossly inadequate minimum wage. Also, troubling in the PC platform is the erosion of public provision of services, and further privatization of health services and a reliance on the private market to create affordable housing. Relying on the private market to deliver essential services erodes quality and accountability, and stacks profits for the rich creating greater inequality.
Note: The final 130-page PC platform was not released when these assessments were drafted, and a representative turned down a request for early access; our evaluation was therefore completed using their 12-page platform summary booklet as a reference.