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Canada Votes: Which issues are important to YOUR family? 

Canadian Parliament made history today. It was the first time that a government has ever been defeated because it was deemed to be in contempt of Parliament.  This brings Stephen Harper's Conservative government to an end thrusts Canadian citizens into a Spring election.

During our last election, I scoured through the platforms of each political party and reported here on the parenting and family related priorities and promises that each of them were making. I plan to do that again.

As you think about which party to support, what questions do you have? What would you like to see me address as I pick apart their platforms?

Image credit: Tigana on flickr
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Reader Comments (22)

I'm still waiting for the (frequently promised) national childcare programme.

March 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

Maybe I'm just old and cynical, but when it comes to policies, I don't think there could be a higher priority than reducing the size of our unbelievably bloated and wasteful bureaucracy and getting the government's hands the hell out of my pockets...

March 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

Speaking of bureaucracy, clearly it's been a while since I watched the vote on CPAC. I was struck by how ridiculously inefficient it all was. Seriously Canada? When making an important decision first we say Yea or Nay loudly enough and then we estimate which side wins??? Then we stand up to be counted while hundreds of names are read off? Seems to me we could debate and vote on hundreds of issues over the course of parliament sitting if we invested in some better procedures and technology. Of course, maybe the best parliament is one who does as little as possible.

March 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary @ Parenthood


The Conservatives have done nothing but grow the bureaucracy since they came into power.

March 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Long-term priorities are one thing — it's shameful to see our kids be saddled with national debt for no-bid planes and mega-prisons, while infrastructure, health and child-care get ignored or relegated to short-term surges like the infrastructure-and-green-signs program, or bribes labelled as child care. In the oft-repeated federal-budget-as-family-budget metaphor, what's likely to hold value and make our lives better over time (hint: not warplanes, corporate tax cuts or publicly-funded NHL arenas)? Whatever it is, that's what might be worth borrowing our kids' money for.

I think taxation, and how it affects families in different situations, is also a good just-the-facts issue to address. One of the things the Cons did that I can get behind was the reduction of the GST, as I get the sense that poor-to-getting-by Canadians spend more of their income on stuff subject to GST, as opposed to savings, real estate, investments and other GST-exempt things. One of the things that I find convenient (who likes to add interest income to the heap of slips at tax time?) but kind of regressive is the TFSA. What segment of society can put away five thousand dollars a year for a rainy day (after making house payments and saving for retirement and kids' education)? Does that segment really need the help?

March 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric

On something like this it definitely does look inefficient. But the house votes a LOT and it's usually not on anything nearly this important. For the most part - especially if you have a majority government - the simple voice vote gives a clear answer and then it's over with, lickity-split. Also, on any given day when something is being voted on, there are usually a lot of absent MPs, so even the standing vote would go faster.

So exciting that people are watching CPAC though!!!

March 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKrista

Ooo, I am looking forward to this series of posts from you Annie.. the politics geek that I am!

Here are my big issues:
Child care (especially for those on EI), Education, Environment, Health Care (especially mental health) Affordable housing and public transit, tax cuts for low income, less loop holes for big corporations, incentives for things that make individuals and the environment healthier. Oh, and transparency and accountability (which ironically the Conservatives ran on and I see Harper's government as just about the least transparent Canadian government one could imagine!)

Over all though, I am pretty cynical about our political system. I loath the negative politics and lack of integrity. It bothers me to no end that it is all about sound bites and empty promises and what the polls tell them to say. What we really need is a real leader like Nenshi (Calgary's new Mayor) at the National level. Oh to have someone tell like it is, actually have a plan and do away with partisan issues and just focus on what is best for people. That would be my dream!

Looking forward to your thoughts Annie!

I will probably vote for the Green party based on their position on carbon taxation. The environment has always been my voting issue and this election probably won't change this.

When I recently did my taxes all I could think was how little I approve of the Conservative government's policies when it comes to children and families. The Universal Child Care Benefit is a joke compared to the actual cost of daycare, even when you count the tax break for daycare. The Children's Fitness Tax Benefit is also a joke, just a government trying to push paper to look like they're doing something. Only those rich enough to pay for childrens' programs up front will benefit. Why not spend government money to build playgrounds if we want fit children? That would be building something of value for everyone.

About the only thing I like about Harper is his position on Arctic defense. When it melts up there we're going to need to pay serious attention.

March 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternina

I'm more of the tax and spend type. Last time there was a significant tax cut to the middle class, I got 15$ more biweekly. Sure it was nice to get a little boost, but what it cost the government, I'd be more than willing to forgo the 15$ for shorter wait times at the hostpital, or lower tuition rates for my children in the future.

March 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie S

Childcare is a priority and the greener the better.

March 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBetsy

I live in Quebec, where we do have a childcare program ($7/day daycare). But, we pay over 50% in taxes. I don't think its worth it. Also, I'm a teacher and I can see how little the government seems to care about education. Take for example salary: Our teacher salaries here are up to $30K lower than other provinces! Yes, $7/day daycare is nice, but as a teacher I pay for it in lower salary and higher taxes.

March 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPerfect Mom

I second my wife's view. One thing I'm not clear on, is what the childcare or family policies should be. Is anything being asked for?

* Education is already free up to high school. Quality is dubious in some places (like Quebec)
* There are tax deductions and rebates for children and dependents.
* Medical care, except dentistry, is already free for everyone. Quality is dubious across the country.
* There is a year of paid leave for new parents. Quebec is more generous than the feds.

Not sure what else is required ...

My greatest concerns are Lauren's: Reduce the size of government.

On a side note: My friend posted a hilarious (I think) http://vollman.blogspot.com/2011/03/election-time-in-canada.html" rel="nofollow">little summary of what caused the current election and what the parties are doing. Not related to parenting, just the election.

My wife just stumbled onto this blog and told me about it. It's super -- in my reader!

March 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPerfect Dad

First let me say how thrilled I am that we have a shot to get rid of Harper. What I would like to see is something done about the tuition rates at Universities to make higher education more affordable. I think we need to so something about daycare. That 100 dollars a month is a joke and ends at the age of six. As far as I know it is still illegal to leave a six year old on their own. I further think it is important to address because people don't necessarily work 9-5 now. If you are poor in particular you will be forced to work on weekends or even overnight. We need some sort of structure to deal with childcare because this adds an undue burden on single mothers.

As a disabled person I want to see some positive changes. There are tons of areas that are not accessible to people with disabilities and this needs to change. I will also include transportation in that as well because PWD need to be able to navigate and get around.

Finally, small communities need more and better doctors and there needs to be a plan to deal with the doctor shortage. I also believe that dental care should be covered for all Canadians. It is not just about vanity. We need our teeth and I fail to see how this essential body part should be neglected.

March 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRenee Martin

I totally agree with everything. Accessibility for all: Good, Free childcare: Good, More doctors: Good, Free tuition: Good.

Those are great ideas that I don't think anyone would disagree with, but they sound like they will cost money. We already have a huge deficit and debt. Which of the leaders will do this while also bringing the deficit under control? I have nobody to vote for! Even Harper, who is supposed to be saving us money, is buying new fighter jets for probably at least a billion or two per year, when we have a $45 billion deficit.

March 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPerfect Mom

to focus on the family of the low tomiddle class income.If you make $32000 a year and have 2 parents and 3 children your child tax is cut in half!!!!! Then you GST is cut by one quarter! Yet the people on weflare who pay nothing into these programs and such get the
entire amount alound. We are 2 disabled parents we have struggled and struggled and finally got off welfare bought our own home only to be pushed back down by our country, province and city. I would love to tell the entire story but we do not seem to matter to anyone.

March 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkaren

I'd like to see money put into childcare.

March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarianne

I would love to hear about each platform's perspective on health care: wait times, family doctor shortage, caring for the elderly, and mental health.

And about how each party plan's to support families - be it through child care, income splitting for families where one parent stays at home, tax credits etc.

March 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSara

I am going out on a limb here, but I am really happy to see the Tories even talking about income splitting. And it isn't so much the economic impact that it may or may not have on my family. Income splitting is the closest that any of the parties have come to valuing my contribution to the country and the economy as a stay-at-home parent.

Full day kindergarten, national daycare, etc etc, are going to be of zero benefit to my family. We will not be participating in those programs because I think that I am the best for my kids, not an institution. And we make serious sacrifices for this decision. We don't have one parent at home because we're 'lucky' or 'well-off' or whatever.

And I'm tired of the taxation system seeing children only as a luxury that should be penalized.

April 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterfofo

Just a quick update to say that some of the parties have released their platforms and others have not yet. I'm heading off on vacation, but will go through each of the platforms with a fine tooth comb when I get back and post my findings and thoughts here.

April 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I agree.

April 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

I want to see health care the same national. I'm in Ottawa, some of my friends and family on the Quebec side, and I just can't believe the differences in between provinces on the Canadian Health Care. They wait longer, they pay for more things, I can't believe how many don't have a family doctor. It just doesn't even sound like the same country.

And now that I have children, I think wait times are too long in a walk-in-clinic. Than I'm told to follow up with my family doctor in lets say 10 days, and he's booked for three weeks.

I have an increasing amount of friends telling me they don't have a family Dr. I think that is increasing our wait time in clinics, because people go there for issues that they don't necessarily need to be seen for that day, but they go cause they had time and they can't make an appointment in a few weeks cause there's no family Dr.

There's other things, some already mentioned, but mostly it's the health care for me.'

April 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

[...] then a Canadian blogger that I hold in very high regard did something wonderful. She took a good hard look at all the parties, read their platforms [...]

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