Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Liberals Need to Rediscover Universality

The Liberals need to rediscover universality. Under Mulroney and Chrétien universality died as Stephen Harper duly and happily noted in 1994.
"Universality has been severely reduced: it is virtually dead as a concept in most areas of public policy…These achievements are due in part to the Reform Party.”

Under Martin the Liberals did rediscover universality again – well sort of. They promised to implement a “universal” early childhood education program that would in drips in drabs grow bigger over literally decades with no time line as to when the program would become truly universal. The more the Liberals talked up the need for more child care the more inadequate and lackluster their proposal appeared. Needless to say, piece meal universality is no universality at all and if the Liberals want to capture the imagination of Canadians by promising a universal program they better make sure that they are able to deliver and all at once.
One issue worth exploring is expanding the Canada health care to include dental care. As business picks up most of the dental tab already, the idea of offloading the costs of dental to the public sector will have its supporters even on the corporate right. The coporate tax rates will have to be raised slightly to pay for it, but these increases will be more than offset by what they are currently paying out in terms of employee dental care as it stands.

Another thing the Liberals can do is steal a page from the rest of the Western world minus the US and give Canadians more vacation time. Virtually ever other industrialized gives its citizens at least 4 weeks: Canadians deserve no less.

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