How The Four Parties Are Targeting Your Wallet This Election

Wondering how each major party platform will affect your finances? We’ve compiled a list of their promises.

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canadian money in wallet

(Photo: iStock)

There’s still a lot to consider when deciding who to vote for come October 21. And, to court the undecided, each of the parties is targeting voters’ pocketbooks with promises ranging from tax deductions to travel stipends for Canada’s national parks. Now that all the platforms have been released (with the exception of the Tories, who will release their full platform October 11), we’ve compiled some of the need-to-know personal finance points from the Liberal, Conservative, NDP and Green Party platforms. Below, what the four major parties are promising when it comes to our respective bottom lines.

Conservatives

  • Education: Conservatives promise to boost Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs)—raising their matching contributions from 20 to 30 percent for every dollar invested up to $2,500 a year, to a maximum of $750 a year.
  • Employment: They want to improve “credential recognition” to make it easier for immigrants who have “existing skills that meet our standards to ply their trades here.
  • Childcare: The party has pledged to continue the Canada Child Benefit and increase social transfer payments to the provinces by at least three percent every year. Andrew Scheer made a new promise to make employment insurance benefits for new parents tax-free; parents would also get a 15 percent tax credit the following year for maternal and paternal leave.
  • Healthcare: Conservatives promise to increase health transfer payments to the provinces by at least three percent every year. They’ve dismissed universal pharmacare (funding for prescription medication for all), which is being pitched by the other parties, and instead would focus on funding medications for those not covered at work or provincially.
  • Housing: Scheer says he will make it cheaper for Canadians to buy homes, loosening rules put in place by the former Conservative government during the global financial crisis when they reduced the maximum mortgage amortization period to 25 years. He pledges to bring back 30-year mortgages, which have lower monthly payments, for first-time homebuyers.
  • Seniors: Scheer wants to remove GST from home heating bills and reintroduce a public transit tax credit—promises he says will benefit seniors in particular. He’s also vowed to increase the Age Tax Credit by $1,000—an income-tested tax credit for Canadians aged 65 and over, available to seniors making less than $87,750.
  • Taxes: The Tories would reduce taxes from 15 percent to 13.75 percent on taxable income under $47,630, which they say will give those earning under that amount $400 in savings per year. They’ve also vowed to improve the disability tax credit, which they estimate will result in about 35,000 more Canadians being eligible for it and save each an average of $2,100 per year.

Green Party

  • Education: Greens would eliminate tuition for all Canadian students studying at college and university. They also pledge to forgive the portion of existing student debt that is held by the federal government.
  • Employment: They want to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and ban unpaid internships, excluding those for school credit. At the federal level, the Greens would like to study raising the minimum amounts for paid vacation for all workers and look at the implementation of a shorter work week. They also want to cancel the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which allows Canadian employers to hire foreign nationals to fill temporary jobs, and implement a guaranteed livable income—which would be an automatic, unconditional and universal income given to everyone.
  • Childcare: The Green Party wants a universal childcare program (free childcare for all), with an emphasis on creating childcare spaces in workplaces.
  • Healthcare: They would extend healthcare coverage to include universal pharmacare and dental care for low-income Canadians.
  • Housing: The party wants to rethink the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which provides mortgage insurance for Canadians who require assistance, and provide more resources for housing co-ops. They would also like to build 25,000 new affordable units and renovate 15,000 others every year for the next 10 years.
  • Cell phone costs: In order to drive down cellphone prices, the Greens will tackle what they deem the “telecom monopoly.” They hope to increase competition by opening up the market for new Canadian wireless companies.
  • Seniors: Over time, they propose boosting the Canada Pension Plan’s target income replacement from 25 to 50 percent of pre-retirement income.
  • Taxes: The Greens would create a Federal Tax Commission to ensure the tax system is “fair and accessible.”

Liberals

  • Education: Would give additional full and part-time students up to $1,200 more per year through increased Canada Student Grants; also want to give students two years after graduation to get started in their careers before they’re required to start paying off their student loans—with an interest-free grace period. After the grace period ends, they say graduates would not have to begin loan repayments until they make at least $35,000 per year, and if their income ever falls below this level their payments would be put on hold.
  • Employment: Liberals promise “career insurance benefits” that provide more support—as much as $15,900 over two years—to workers facing long-term unemployment because of company closures. They would also like to set up a $15-an-hour minimum wage for federally regulated industries. That minimum wage would increase with inflation, starting in 2020.
  • Childcare: Liberals want to boost the Canada Child Benefit by 15 percent for children under the age of one, and make maternity and parental leave benefits tax-free. They would lower parents’ childcare fees by 10 percent across the country, and double the Child Disability Benefit, giving families of children with disabilities more than $2,800 in extra help, with up to $5,664 in total financial support available each year.
  • Healthcare: They’ve promised to take “critical next steps” toward a universal pharmacare program—but haven’t given more details beyond this.
  • Housing: Liberals would expand the First Time Home Buyer Incentive Program, brought in with this year’s budget, which offers subsidies of 10 percent on any new home purchase and five percent on resale homes. They would also offer interest-free loans up to $40,000 to help owners and landlords retrofit their homes to make them more energy efficient and resilient to extreme weather conditions like floods and wildfires.
  • Cell phone costs: Liberals would cut cell phone costs by 25 percent in the next two years using the government’s regulatory powers. This would, they say, save the average middle-class family of four nearly $1,000 per year.
  • Seniors: If re-elected, they’re promising to boost Old Age Security at age 75 by 10 percent and the CPP by 25 percent for widows and widowers.
  • Taxes: They would not charge federal taxes on the first $15,000 of annual earnings—so 700,000 Canadians will pay no federal tax.
  • Travel: To make parks more accessible, Liberals would give 75,000 less-privileged children and their families an up-to-four-night trip to one of Canada’s provincial or national parks. It’ll include accommodations and a travel bursary of up to $2,000. As well, to make travel more affordable for those living in the North, they would improve the Northern Resident Deduction and give those who qualify at least $1,200 in deductible travel costs—with $600 in deductible travel costs for people in the Intermediate Zone.

NDP

  • Education: The NDP would cancel interest on all existing and future student loans while working towards free university and college tuition. They would also work with provinces and territories to put a cap on and reduce tuition. The party also says it would put more money into Canada Student Grants.
  • Employment: The NDP proposes raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, as well. If elected, they say they would immediately put in place a universal qualifying threshold of 360 hours of work for Employment Insurance to “make sure that many more Canadians can access benefits, no matter what kind of work they do.”
  • Childcare: The NDP would commit one billion dollars to affordable, not-for-profit childcare in 2020, and increase it yearly.
  • Healthcare: The NDP wants to expand medicare to include universal pharmacare, as well as increase healthcare coverage to include dental, vision, hearing and mental health services.
  • Housing: They vow to build 500,000 affordable housing units over 10 years. They propose a rental subsidy of $5,000 per year to help families struggling to pay rent.
  • Cell phone costs: New Democrats propose a price cap on cell phone and internet bills, setting them around the global average of OECD countries—which are typically lower than Canadian bills. They pledge to force wireless companies to create basic plans, modelled after affordable rates in other countries.
  • Public Transit: The party would work with municipalities to make all public transit fare-free—saving Canadians that rely on public transit as much as $1,800 per year.
  • Seniors: Their platform proposes making the Caregiver Tax Credit refundable in order to help those who look after seniors. They say their affordable housing units plan will include accessible units, benefiting seniors.
  • Taxes: They want to increase the top federal personal income tax rate from 33 percent to 35 percent and impose a one percent wealth tax on those making more than $20 million dollars per year.

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