Off the Hill presents: Crunch time in Ottawa

The popular web series is back! Off the Hill 2021 kicked off with a bang on April 15.

With the first federal budget in two years expected on April 19, a potential election looms large against the backdrop of an ongoing pandemic and faltering rollout of a national vaccine program.

Panelists included federal politics senior reporter Karl Nerenberg, MP for Winnipeg Centre Leah Gazan, the executive director of FoodShare Toronto and newly minted candidate for the NDP in Parkdale-High Park, Paul Taylor. 

This month’s webinar includes special guest Jim Stanford, an economist and director of the Centre for Future Work. Hosted by author Libby Davies, and introducing this season’s new alternating co-host Robin Browne, a communications professional and the co-lead of the 613-819 Black Hub.

Over the past year, there has been much ado about government spending. Conservatives say there’s been too much of it; those on the left argue not just for more spending, but more efficiency, better focus, and overall, a commitment to social services. 

Recently at, Karl Nerenberg wrote about the budget as an opportunity for the federal government to show what role, if any, it believes the federal government can play in reforming a long-term care system that has miserably failed the elderly during the COVID-19 pandemic across the country.

And, economist Armine Yalnizyan made the case for governments to pivot their investments towards the care economy. 

“So far no government has talked about addressing the world’s first ‘she-cession’ by spending more on the social infrastructure we all rely on to provide care to each other,” she wrote. 

As governments talk about “building back better” and rebuilding our economy in a post-pandemic world, discussions about how and for whom governments are spending have become crucial. We’re pleased to bring you a conversation about the impact of the upcoming budget from a progressive point of view.  

Leah Gazan is member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre. She is currently the NDP critic for Children, Families, and Social Development, as well as the deputy critic for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship. Leah has been a champion in the fight for a permanent guaranteed livable basic income in Canada and earlier this year was named to Maclean’s 2021 Power List. She was a prominent Winnipeg lead during Idle No More and co-founded the #WeCare campaign aimed at building public will to end violence against Indigenous women and girls. Leah is a member of Wood Mountain Lakota Nation, located in Saskatchewan, Treaty 4 territory.

Paul Taylor is the executive director of FoodShare Toronto and a lifelong anti-poverty activist. FoodShare is the largest food security organization in Canada, with a budget of over $11 million. Paul recently won the nomination for NDP federal candidate in Parkdale-High Park.

Jim Stanford is an economist and the director of the Centre for Future Work, a labour economics research institute with operations in Canada and Australia. He previously served as economist and director of policy with Unifor.

Karl Nerenberg is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster and filmmaker, working in both English and French languages. He has been‘s parliamentary correspondent since 2011.

Robin Browne and Libby Davies are Off the Hill’s co-hosts. Robin is a communications professional and the co-lead of the 613-819 Black Hub, living in Ottawa. His blog is The “True” North. Libby is author of Outside In: a Political Memoir. She served as the MP for Vancouver East from 1997-2015, and is former NDP Deputy Leader and House Leader, and is a recipient of the Order of Canada.

Off the Hill is thought-provoking panel interaction on current issues of national significance, from a progressive and critically applied perspective. This monthly production features interesting and topical issues from a left perspective not covered in the mainstream media. Discussions are centred on impacts on people, mobilization, and bringing about progressive change.