Jagmeet Singh says an NDP government would invest in small businesses that are committed to "building our country."
The party leader chose Novo Textiles Co. in Coquitlam as his first major stop after the writ was dropped on Sunday (Aug. 15), marking the start of campaigning in the 2021 federal election — set for Sept. 20.
Novo creates personal protective equipment (PPE) at the local level, a topic of conversation throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic as Singh also supports mandating vaccination for federal and federally-regulated businesses.
He says there "will be consequences" if the health and safety of Canadians aren't put first.
Additionally, the federal party leader said he would not allow Canada's PPE manufacturing industry to fall by the wayside and would develop strategies to give local companies the chance to thrive as Canada looks to avoid any potentially fatal fourth wave.
"What we would do is invest in helping companies expand to other jurisdictions in Canada, so other provinces and territories, and assist them in expanding globally," Singh explained at the podium in Novo headquarters, alongside Port Moody-Coquitlam NDP candidate Bonita Zarrillo.
Singh also toured Novo's facility this morning (Aug. 17) with his wife, Gurkiran.
In a statement, he claims Canada was caught "flat-footed" in terms of putting residents and front-line workers at greater risk, especially those who needed access to proper PPE.
“For decades the Liberals and Conservatives have dismantled Canada’s manufacturing industry and allowed money and jobs to be shipped overseas. We can’t ever let ourselves be in this position again—we have to expand domestic manufacturing capacity so that we can create jobs and respond in an emergency.”
Singh said he suported mandatory testing for federal government workers but did not comment on regular testing for COVID-19 at the federal level as proposed by Erin O'Toole and the Conservatives.
WORKERS' RIGHTS PROTECTED
The Public Service Alliance of Canada, meanwhile, has come out with a statement acknowledging that while it's recommended federal workers get vaccinations, employees with a valid medical reason for being unvaccinated, or for reasons protected by human rights legislation, must be offered a formal accommodation under the law.
For example the government must temporarily reassign those employees to other duties where possible, or allow for alternate work arrangements such as remote work, according to national president Chris Aylward.
Where required, other measures should be explored, including regular screening and rapid testing.
Instead of politicizing vaccinations, he said it's important to rely on science-based evidence from health experts and provide Canadians with the tools, education, transparency and awareness so they can make decisions to keep themselves safe.
SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN
During the question period of his Coquitlam conference, Singh was asked for his thoughts on the Taliban's takeover in Afghanistan.
He called the group "terrorists" and "not a legitimate government" and one that Canada shouldn't be working with.
He believes all allies and minority religious groups should be evacuated from the Middle Eastern nation.
Singh is also the first leader of a major federal party to campaign in B.C. along the 2021 election campaign trail.
In addition to visiting Novo Textiles in Coquitlam, Singh planned to tour Olivier's Breads nearby later in the day.
He arrived on a tour bus to the facility to an awaiting phalanx of media representatives, who peppered him with questions in both English and French.
He told Novo Textiles CEO Jason Zanatta that he was proud of the local company's effort to build Canada's stock of N95 masks as the two took a tour together.
The two other major parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives, are also announcing supports for business.
Today, Conservative Party leader announced his party would provide a month-long GST holiday to encourage consumers to spend money at local businesses.
On Monday (Aug. 15), Liberal finance minister Chrystia Freeland was in Port Moody to talk about supports for business.
The Liberals plan to extend and introduce new emergency supports for businesses and workers.