OTTAWA — NDP leadership candidate Jagmeet Singh wants to tax the rich and give to the poor.
In one of his first major policy announcements, HuffPost Canada has learned the Ontario MPP is proposing a huge transfer of wealth designed to lift millions out of poverty.
“When our neighbours do better, we all do better,” Singh says about his plan to help Canadians with disabilities, seniors, and those struggling to make ends meet.
Ontario deputy NDP leader Jagmeet Singh launches his bid for the federal NDP leadership in Brampton, Ont. on May 15, 2017. (Photo: Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)
Inspired by the Liberals’ successful 2015 campaign when they promised to increase taxes on the top one per cent to support more generous tax-free child benefits, the charismatic New Democrat is hoping to steal Justin Trudeau’s playbook with bigger and bolder change.
Singh proposes new federal tax brackets for high income earners: Canadians taking home between $350,000 and $499,999 would be taxed at 35 per cent (instead of 33 per cent), and income over $500,000 would be taxed at 37 per cent.
Singh would increase taxes on capital gains, hiking the inclusion rate from 50 per cent to 75 per cent. He would also implement an estate tax of 40 per cent on assets above $4 million.
Corporations would also see a huge tax increase from the current 15 per cent to 19.5 per cent — reversing decades of corporate tax cuts.
Corporate tax write-offs would also be on the chopping block. “Box seat tickets and expensive meals will end,” Singh states in what he calls his income security agenda. “Corporations will be asked to pay their fair share.”
He adds: “A Jagmeet Singh-led government will build an inclusive and more progressive tax system that will ask Canadians to invest in one another.”
With all that money, Singh seeks to introduce three new programs designed to help the working poor, and to eliminate the number of seniors and people with severe disabilities living in poverty.
The NDP leadership candidate proposes a wage subsidy called the “working Canadian guarantee.”
Singh would triple the amount currently offered by the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB), a refundable tax credit for low-income individuals to encourage them to stay in the workforce, and others to start working.
"A Jagmeet Singh-led government will build an inclusive and more progressive tax system that will ask Canadians to invest in one another."
Singh’s guarantee would come in monthly or quarterly payments rather than the current annual lump sum, so that individuals can more easily access cash.
To pay for the program, Singh would scrap the Canada Employment Credit. Worth approximately $2.3 billion, it’s mostly used by wealthy Canadians, said the candidate’s policy director Jonathan Sas.
“Like many of those boutique tax credit, it skews heavily towards the wealthy, who know to file for it, who have accountants to do it, and the people who it was supposed to help, it has not helped at all,” Sas said.
At a time of exploding part-time work, automation and globalization, the wage subsidy would serve as a safety net: “[The WITB] has been successful already and we want to improve it and expand it.”
For seniors, Singh proposes to combine a number of existing programs (Old Age Security, the Guaranteed Income Supplement, the age credit, and the pension income credit) into one income-tested “Canada seniors guarantee.” The benefit would be phased out at an income level that will be disclosed once Singh’s campaign can access government figures, said Sas.
This would allow low- and middle-income seniors a boost in their benefits, said Singh.
“We think that the wealthiest seniors, those with a lot of investments, with secure pensions, don’t need the same kind of benefits that those at the low end do,” Sas said. “There are 28 per cent of single female seniors living in poverty. They deserve a richer benefit.”
Jagmeet Singh, seen in 2015, is one of five NDP leadership candidates. (Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
A big part of Singh's tax increases would help fund a new “Canadians with disabilities guarantee.” This $8 billion to $10 billion program would offer an income-tested, non-taxable benefit designed to complement provincial allowances to some approximately 500,000 individuals.
“There is no excuse that in a country as rich as ours that so many Canadians with disabilities are forced to live in poverty,” Singh said in a promotion video.
Sas told HuffPost Canada that while social assistance rates differ across the provinces, most are below the poverty line.
“What we are committing to is a new federal benefit, with a commitment to lift every senior with a severe disability out of poverty,” he said.
Singh also plans to establish a “tax fairness commission” that will be tasked with recommending ways to make the tax system more progressive and balanced.
Five candidates are running for the NDP leadership: Singh, and MPs Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton, Guy Caron and Peter Julian.
The party selects a new leader this fall.