A Liberal government will commit up to $1 billion of new resources over the next five years to help implement a family caregiver support strategy jointly with provinces. If within 24 months there has been no agreement on new support mechanisms, the federal government will ensure that alternative ways are developed to make the new resources available to caregivers. As a concrete first step, Paul Martin’s government will double to $10,000 the amount of medical and disability related expenses that can be claimed by a caregiver on behalf of a dependent relative.
A Liberal government will increase the incomes of Canada’s least wealthy seniors. Acting on a key recommendation of two Liberal Task Forces, the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) base will be increased to reflect the fact that wage growth has exceeded inflation. Once fully implemented, the improvement will result in an increase of roughly 7% to the income of GIS recipients. This increase is of course in addition to the quarterly inflation adjustments of the GIS.
The Liberals will phase in a contribution of $5 billion over the next five years, beyond funds already committed, to accelerate building a national early learning and childcare system. The Foundations program will ensure that children have access to high-quality, government-regulated spaces at affordable cost to parents.
A Liberal government will enshrine in legislation four principles for Foundations – the “QUAD”:
QUALITY. Each facility must be regulated by the province or territory to ensure safety and an appropriate complement of professionally-qualified child development staff.
UNIVERSALITY. The program will be open, without discrimination, to pre-school children, including children with special needs.
ACCESSIBILITY. The program will be affordable for parents.
DEVELOPMENTAL. The program must include a component of development / learning that is integrated with the care component.
A Liberal government will do more to stimulate assisted housing by providing a further $1 to $1.5 billion over the next five years. Liberals will extend and enhance existing vehicles – including the Affordable Housing Initiative, SCPI, RAAP and Aboriginal housing on and off-reserve. They will support innovative initiatives developed in consultation with provinces, territories and stakeholder groups. This could include a “Housing Works” foundation to leverage contributions for new affordable units from various levels of government, community groups and the private sector.
For more information about the Liberal Platform, visit their website at www.liberal.ca
A Conservative government led by Stephen Harper will introduce a $2000 per child deduction, phased in over four years. They will increase the maximum student loan limits, broaden the definition of eligible expenses, and increase family income thresholds. They will also provide first-year tuition grants for students from low-income families. Conservatives will encourage families to save for their children’s education, through such measures as the Canada Learning Bond, increased Canada Education Savings Grants, and the Registered Lifetime Savings Program.
A Conservative government will double the size of the caregivers’ tax credit to cover $7,000 in allowable expenses. They will support the development of a property regime on reserves to allow individual property ownership that will encourage lending for private housing and businesses. A Conservative government will also create a matrimonial property code to protect spouses and children in cases of marriage breakdown.
A Conservative government, in consultation with the provinces and aboriginals, will support the principle of allowing parents to choose which schooling they want for their children, with funding following the students.
For more information about the Conservative platform, visit their website at www.conservative.com
Jack Layton and Canada’s NDP will cut tuition fees, just as NDP governments in British Columbia and Manitoba did, with a national plan to reduce fees by 10 per cent and then freeze them by increasing federal funding for post-secondary education and working with the provinces to make sure it happens.
An NDP government will increase funding for research to halt the privatization of research on campus, allowing science to be examined on its merits. They will replace the privately administered Millennium Scholarship Fund with needs-based grants so that a family’s income isn’t a barrier to a student’s future. The abolition of the program should be phased in to protect students currently receiving Millennium Scholarships.
Jack Layton’s government will credit all interest accrued on the Canada Student Loans program against graduates’ income taxes. They will establish a national training strategy and support for lifelong learning for workers to address current and anticipated skills shortages. They will also extend tools for lifelong learning and research through initiatives like extending broadband access to all communities by co-operating with provinces, municipalities and the private sector.
An NDP government will provide stable, long-term federal funds to create an additional 200,000 high quality, affordable, publicly funded child care spaces within four years. They will set out to develop a strategy with provinces and territories to ensure universal, high quality early childhood education and care in every region of Canada within a decade. They will also work with the provinces to establish a Canada Post-Secondary Education Act that, in return for stable, long-term funding, would prevent the creation of private, for-profit colleges and universities.
The NDP will increase the Child Tax Benefit to $4,900 per child and alter the program to permit Canada’s poorest families, who don’t pay tax, to qualify. They will ensure all Canadians who make less than $15,000 a year pay no federal income tax. They will build affordable housing and provide rent supplements to low-income Canadians. Single mothers can’t get their kids off to a good start in life if they’re stuck in a windowless basement or cheap motel room, with ever-increasing amounts of their income going to rent.
Jack Layton’s NDP will create two new national holidays to help parents spend more time with their children, one in February and one in June (August in Quebec), work towards a shorter work week, longer paid holidays and earlier and flexible retirement options, and encourage job-sharing programs to enable families to spend more time together.
They will restore a federal role, in partnership with provincial and territorial governments, to ensure that federally transferred funds intended for social assistance meet specific, Canada-wide goals and that federal support (currently through the CHST) is guaranteed to provide secure and stable funding for social assistance and will not be withdrawn or reduced unilaterally.
The NDP will honour obligations to Aboriginal Canadians, who too often see their children consigned to years of poverty in Third World living conditions.
Jack Layton and Canada’s NDP will help seniors retire in dignity. They will support a mandatory federal retirement age of 65. They will improve access to the CPP/QPP for women by expanding the current “drop-out” provision for child care to include other unpaid care giving, such as that for senior family members. They will also review the adequacy of Canada’s pension system to develop more effective ways for enhancing income security for seniors.
For more information about the New Democratic Party platform, please visit their website at www.ndp.ca
The Green Party under the leadership of Jim Harris will raise the benefit levels for parental leave under the Employment Insurance Act. They will create tax-incentives for businesses to implement flexible schedules and on-site childcare. They will create a national network that links childcare services across all three levels of government and funds local childcare initiatives and facilities. They will also enforce pay equity for women in the workplace.
A Green government will revive a social housing program that will provide credit and loan guarantees to non-profit housing organizations and cooperatives for the building and restoration of quality, energy-efficient housing for seniors, families and single people with special-needs. They will expand R-2000 housing programs and ensure that all new housing meets the standard. They will also offer support to owners who are willing to renovate existing housing to meet the standard.
The Green Party will raise the benefit levels for parental leave under the Employment Insurance Act and extend compassionate care leave to those who are caring for a gravely ill family member. They will create tax incentives for companies to meet the highest standards of gender equity and pay equity. Jim Harris’ government will provide student loan forgiveness to working graduates of childhood education programs. They will also increase funding for women’s crisis centres and shelters, as well as educational programs that build healthy attitudes toward women among young people and they will support the UN’s initiative for the elimination of discrimination and violence against women.
For more information about the Green Party platform, visit their website at www.greenparty.ca