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New Democratic Party (NDP): Family, Parenting and Women's Issues

This week, I'll be posting highlights from the platforms of Canada's five major political parties, focusing on their policies and promises with regards to family, parenting and women's issues. I am going to try (but do not promise!) to simply report on or summarize what they have promised, rather than providing colour commentary in my posts. However, I am happy to have detailed conversations about the value and feasibility of the proposals in the comments on each post.

Image credit: NDP

New Democratic Party (NDP)

The NDP's platform is available online at http://www.ndp.ca/platform and its tagline is "leadership you can trust to give your family a break."

Some of the key promises that relate to families, parents and women include:

Benefits to allow people to care for their families

  • More generous and flexible benefits to allow people to take up to six months leave from work to tend to relatives near the end of their lives (currently six weeks).

  • New Caregiver Benefit of up to $1500 per year (similar to Child Tax Benefit) to help low and middle-income families care for children, spouses, parents and other family members.

  • Target child poverty with new non-taxable Child Benefit (in addition to existing Child Tax Benefit and Universal Child Care Benefit) that would increase support by up to $700 per child over the next 4 years, in addition to setting goals and targets for poverty reduction with other levels of government.

  • If your family includes small business owners, a family farm, or tradespeople, there are additional benefits that could help your family.

Childcare and education

  • Canada-wide child care and early learning program that includes 100,000 new childcare spaces over the next 4 years (25,000 per year), as well as investments in the community infrastructure required to support child care. The community-based child centres would provide parents with a one-stop-shop for family services.

  • More affordable post-secondary education through direct transfer of $800 million to the provinces and territories to help them lower tuition fees.

  • Increased funding to Canada Student Grants program of $200 million per year, targeting accessibility for Aboriginal, disabled and low-income students in particular.

  • Raising education tax credit from $4,800 per year to $5,760 per year to help with increasing education costs.

Helping families reduce costs

  • Reinstating the Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP) and Affordable Housing Initiative, among other things, to provide more affordable housing for Canadian families.

  • Initiatives aimed at promoting energy efficient homes and helping families cover the costs of heating their homes.

  • Credit card interest rates of no more than 5% above prime.

  • Implementing a variety of procedures to reduce the prices of prescription medication.

  • National minimum wage.

  • Variety of initiatives to encourage clean energy production and strengthen public transit.

Women's Rights

  • Variety of initiatives aimed at addressing gaps in women’s equality, such as reversing the Conservatives attacks on pay equity, restoring funding to women’s programs, expanding access to shelter and transition houses for women fleeing violence, improving support to aboriginal women (especially victims of violence), and ensuring that using maternity/parental leave benefits does not change an individual’s eligibility for Employment Insurance benefits.

  • Re-affirming women's rights to safe, accessible abortion services.


  • Guaranteed commitment to our single-payer public health care system.

  • Measures to address the shortage of doctors, nurses, midwives and other health care professionals (including programs to recruit and support low-income, rural and aboriginal medical students).

Children's Health and Safety

  • Children’s Nutrition Initiative to support and expand provincial and local programs that provide healthy meals to school children, while also increasing emphasis on food safety and proper labelling of food.

  • Implement a strategy for reducing serious injuries in amateur sport.

  • Plans to hire more police and give parents, teachers and police more tools to protect children by making gang recruiting illegal and implementing initiatives to ensure that prisons do not serve as “crime schools”.

What do you think of the NDP platform? Do their promises sound like a good fit for your family? For our country?

Please also check out my Care2 Causes post called Tools to Help You Navigate the Canadian Election and my Bad Moms Club post called If the Political Parties Were Bad Moms. If you want to discuss politics with other moms, also be sure to check out the #momthevote hash tag on twitter and the Mom The Vote facebook page.

« Green Party (GPC): Family, Parenting and Women's Issues | Main | "Do you like you?" »

Reader Comments (53)

There are a few things I'd like to say about this. Firstly, it's very biased that you only wrote about the NDP platform, and excluded the platforms of the three other major parties. I think the NDP platform is good, but I personally believe another party has a better balance.

The second thing is that you only gave the pieces of the NDP platform that touches on "some of the key promises that relate to families, parents and women" (as you mentioned at the beginning of the article). What you specifically detailed is good, but I think it's important to mention that people should read the *entire* platform before drawing conclusions. While I'm not saying this is the case, the NDP platform could be strong in the women/children/family area, and be horrible in the healthcare area. It's important that people read the entire platforms of each party; and to make a decision after they have all the information in front of them.

The question you have to ask yourself when deciding who to vote for, is: Does this party have the *best* platform that ensures a good balance in terms of healthy population growth, availability of jobs/revenue; the health of our citizens (abolishing poverty, improving health care); the affordability of basic necessities and vital services for everyone (the cost of food, heat/hydro and shelter) and while also not causing the middle class to suffer as they have been.

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBlu Razzberri

I gather there will be posts for the rest of the parties forthcoming; I think one post per party could let the analysis in the comments get nice and specific.

Among the NDP promises, I think the most promising one is getting back on the pay equity wagon and re-instating women's programs and more universal access to the courts via the court challenges program.

The most likely to fail spectacularly is, in my opinion, the credit card interest cap — I imagine the days of the no-fee credit card will be numbered, or merchants accepting credit cards will get hosed even harder than they are now, or both — I don't think the first will be good for universal access to banking and the online economy, and I imagine the second will be hardest on small and nascent businesses, and will exert upward pressure on the cost of stuff for everyone (whether they pay cash, credit or debit).

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric

@Blu - you really should have read the article before you hit return.

ALL party platforms will be presented over the next week - phdinparenting has started with the NDP platform. Also mentioned right at the top is encouragement to go to the party website plus a link is provided.

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKim

I love Jack Layton. He's such a great guy and has such an awesome mustache. Plus he's the one who stands the straightest. The only thing I'm worried about is the NDP grasp of money. Money management is everything, because all the services he proposes cost money, so the economy needs to be rocking as much as possible.

For me, the place for the NDP is the Conservative's conscience. Keep the CONs in charge of the money but have enough NDP in there that they have to work together. Out of the two left parties, NDP is the only one who is has a good opinion and is willing to pursue it. I'd rather the NDP be the official opposition than the Lib right now, that's for sure.

Correct me if I'm wrong about the money management part of the NDP plan.

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPerfecting Parenthood

i am actually weeping while reading this campaign platform. if all these promises were true, it would make a positively HUGE beneficial impact on my family. i always vote NDP, and will be voting NDP again in this election, as i have a fantastic MP in my riding. although i am most certain, that if we get harper out, he will be replaced by ignatieff, and we will have harper as minority and nothing will get done once again.

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDANIELLE SHERRING

Blu Razzberri:

First - please see the first paragraph (P.S. There are 4 other parties)

Second - I agree. That is why I provided a link to the full platform. However, this is a feminist parenting blog, not a newspaper. I have no obligation or interest in covering ALL the issues in every platform (that would be nothing more than a copy and paste job). What I wanted to do was to extract the elements that relate to the scope of this blog and share them with my readers. Also, I consider healthcare to be a family/parenting issue and I did include it in the post.

Third - Yes, people have to look at the big picture. That said, I'm middle class and I wouldn't say I have been "suffering". The poor, however, does suffer.

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Perfecting Parenthood:

What makes you worry about the NDP's grasp of money management? I'm more worried about the Conservatives grasp of that concept, since government expenditures have only increased since he came into power and since he tried to sole source the purchase of fighter jets rather than going through a competitive process to get the best value for money. I'm not a big fan of the current Liberals, but it was the Liberal party that managed to significantly decrease Canada's debt.

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I would love to see some of the things in this platform put into place. I think there is a lot of good stuff here. But I doubt the fiscal feasibility of it all. I think what I need to see from the NDP is what they are willing to cut or how they will reduce costs in order to make this all happen. I need a 'if we spend on this, we are willing to cut on this' message.

My perspective on politics has changed over the years. While I still consider myself 'left of centre' and in favour of government spending to help people live better lives, I have also seen how poorly most governments actually implement programs. So my perspective has shifted. IF a program can be run well, (aka efficiently and with the desired result) I would rather that over nothing. IF it can't be run well, then I would rather it cut and have the tax money come back to me to spend how I wish. Big government seems like a good idea... until you see how poorly most programs are managed. If a party could get up there and show me that it can use common sense and good management to make the stuff they want to do really work.... well managing to cut wasteful government spending and programs that didn't work... now that would get my vote.

What makes me worry is huge and presumably expensive promises along with anti-business, especially big business, rhetoric. I think we can guess why expenditures have increased over the last decade, we were in a boom and then recently we relied on stimulus to help with a recession. Also, the typical NDP cycle in a province like BC is: Vote in the NDP and let them bankrupt the province for 10 years then switch to Liberal for a recovery for 10 years, then bring back the NDP's for another binge, repeat. BC practically missed the last economic boom! How could BC ever be a "have-not" province?

I don't know why the Cons did not go for tender on the jets, but I do know that the other parties mislead everyone by quoting huge costs. Those jets are replacing existing jets, so they go in while the old and rickety ones go out at the end of life. That's exactly what happens when you replace your own car, a big expense that is amortized over the life of the car. When I hear misleading like that from both NDP and Liberals, then I immediately doubt the rest of their comments and promises.

Don't get me wrong, I am not a die-hard Con supporter because I do think that the Cons have made some bad moves, most worrying is the general attitude of being uncooperative, pushy, and not giving credit to the other parties. But I think that when they promise something that they've actually gone to some effort to figure out the impacts. From the Lib and NDP I get the feeling that they just make the promises. From NDP at least the promises come from principles, from the Lib I think they're just fishing for whatever they think we want to hear.

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPerfecting Parenthood

Well said. What we need is a government efficiency measure. Then I would vote the NDP in right away!

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPerfecting Parenthood

"at" Kim. -- Alright, I did read the article; and either that blurb at the beginning wasn't there when I read it, or it is simply easily missed (because it's small, and comes before the big attention-grabbing picture of Jack). There's really no need for snide comments like "before you hit return." What I said wasn't rude, it was constructive (based on the fact that I didn't read the 'fine print'). My kids were both very active while I was trying to read it. I missed it. Can we not act like I'm horrible for it? Thanks.

It's very difficult, with one very active two year old in my house, to focus on anything written. I read the entire NDP platform, and so when I read this article, I skimmed over the sections. -snip- I was going to continue participating in this discussion, but there is too much activity going on here, and I can't focus. Perhaps I'll return later. Happy chatting.

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBlu Razzberri

Blu Razzberri:

That blurb was there at the beginning.

I also http://www.phdinparenting.com/2011/03/25/canada-votes-which-issues-are-important-to-your-family/" rel="nofollow">mentioned my intention to address the platforms of all of the parties in a post a couple of weeks ago (as I did with the election two years ago), but perhaps you haven't been following my blog for that long.

I think (hope) my regular readers realize that I would never just write up one party and leave it at that. Hopefully you'll come to know that about me too.

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Perfecting Parenthood:

I don't see the NDP as anti-business. I see them as incredibly supportive of small business (which is the engine of Canada's economy and the place that jobs are created) and appropriately conservative (small c conservative) in its support of large business (which tend to focus more on short-term profits than on job creation and true economic growth). As an MBA, a small business owner, and someone who has done a lot of work in the field of entrepreneurship and small business development, this is a stance that I appreciate and applaud.

With regards to the cost of the promises they've made, the NDP does have a full costing document that is available on the platform page that I linked to in the post. It breaks down the cost of everything they have proposed and also shows where the additional revenues would come from (restoring the corporate tax rate, ending fossil fuel subsidies, tax haven crackdown, and crime legislation saving). Certainly it is possible to debate the numbers (are they realistic?), but it isn't fair to say that they have not going to the effort of considering the financial impacts of those promises.

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

"Canada-wide child care and early learning program that includes 100,000 new childcare spaces over the next 4 years (25,000 per year), as well as investments in the community infrastructure required to support child care. The community-based child centres would provide parents with a one-stop-shop for family services."

Would this also include funding to stay-at-home moms to cover preschool? There's a lot of families out there who do not have children in childcare, and who shouldn't be excluded from early learning programs.

"Implementing a variety of procedures to reduce the prices of prescription medication."

Hmm...Canadian version of the Aussie PBS? I heard it being debated on the radio when I was visiting the family back in Canada...

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJ.


What type of preschool are you thinking of if not childcare? What age and what model of early learning? I don't know that I have answers about the NDP platform on that (but may be able to get them), however I would like to understand more about what you are thinking of/looking for in that regard.

I'm not familiar with PBS, but this is what the NDP has proposed with regards to the affordability of medication:

We will work with the provinces and territories to save
Canadians money on the cost of their prescription medications,
including, as finances permit:
∙∙ Improved assessment to ensure quality, safety and cost and
health effectiveness of prescription drugs;
∙∙ Using bargaining power in pharmaceutical purchases;
∙∙ Cutting administrative costs through public administration;
∙∙ Establishing science-based formularies and clinical guidelines
to advance evidence-based practice by physicians;
∙∙ More aggressive price review;
∙∙ Eliminating kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies
to pharmacists;
∙∙ Moving towards more publicly funded research and
development, driven by public priorities, not commercial profits.

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I honestly have worries about the childcare plan. Having just moved back to Ontario (from Alberta) I'm really shocked by the emphasis here on getting kids into all-day school by JK and the phrasing of this in their platform sounds like it might go the same way. Aside from the fact that I don't think kids should be in "school" so early, it also excludes a lot of qualified caregivers from earning a living just because they don't have a teaching degree. In a society that already doesn't value caregiving roles, childcare is one of the last means for stay-at-home parents to earn money without being separated from their own little ones, so I hope that their "integrated, community-based, child-centred early learning and education centres" wouldn't further curtail those opportunities.

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKrissyFair


Interesting comment.

I live in Quebec, which already has a universal childcare program. Parents pay $7 per day for a spot and there are both in-home daycare and daycare centre options.

Outside of the subsidized government system, there also continues to be a demand for other types of childcare arrangements and private daycares and preschools and other arrangements continue to exist too.

I share your concerns, but do hope it would be implemented in a fashion that continues to value a wide range of options.

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Well, I was coming from the perspective that preschool and childcare are not necessarily synonymous and as the NDP use the language "child care AND early learning program," that we were looking at a range of options, inclusive ones, that provide parents with a choice in these early years.

And yes, in most cases, early learning programs don't tend to break the bank...when we lived in Canada (we're Canadians who moved to Australia almost two years ago and will be here another five years or so), my daughter attended a community co-op preschool--about nine hours a week, with minimal fees charged, but still, it was not funded and we were told that we couldn't claim it on our taxes as it didn't qualify as childcare (this was a number of years ago, maybe that has changed). And although I've never been an ardent Conservative supporter, we could at least take that token $200 and put it towards her preschool fees, excursion costs, etc.

Since we've moved to Australia where many of our friends have their children in Montessori schools, Steiner schools, and they all charge tuition for their Kindy programs (equivalent to preschool in Canada). We have our kids in a private Christian-affiliated program, which also charges tuition fees, even for the 10 hours a week our son will be attending Kindy (preschool) next year...or the 30 hours a week he would be in Pre-primary (Aussie equivalent of Kindergarten)...schooling is not compulsory here until Year 1. I was planning on completing a UWA diploma course once he started in these programs, but here's the catch...I would be eligible for government subsidies (up to 50% of all out-of-pocket costs) if he were attending childcare to learn his ABCs while I'm studying, but not for attending an early childhood learning program at the school his sister attends to do the same thing. Ironically, the school has a childcare facility adjacent to the campus. So, I was wondering if the same situation exists in Canada and if the NDP commitment to learning in the early years addresses this. I mean, in our case, we're probably not talking about a huge world of difference between finger painting in the child care building or finger painting a few hundred metres away in the school, but according to the government, there is. Why not allow for some degree of funding of early childhood programs, both childcare and other options in school settings, and allow parents to make the choice that works best for them? I'm under no illusion that the quality of his finger painting will be any better in the school setting, but the problem is that this particular school has a waiting list for entrance and if we keep him out until the time for compulsory schooling, well, then he might not get in at all.

As for the PBS, here's a link:


We've noticed how much cheaper medication is here...and that's the reason why...it'd been interesting to see how Canada could adopt some of this approach...the PBS is enormously expensive to run and there's questions about its sustainability. Health care here is a lot different than Canada...the PBS is one aspect...the public/private blend is another.

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJ.

Ya I've heard about the $7 daycare in Quebec! That would be wonderful. Here it really seems to be a push into school. Even the 'daycares' that are licensed are mostly in schools. There are options for unlicensed dayhomes, but presumably those wouldn't be the recipients of government subsidy, since they don't even have government sanction to exist.

Mind you, this is provincially driven policy and we've got a Lib government, not NDP so I am comparing apples to oranges to a degree.

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKrissyFair

I would be supportive of universal kindergarten starting from age three, as they do in France. The "Ecole Maternelle" in France is a good model to work from.

I would not be in favour of universal subsidized daycare for prior to that age. Having experienced the French publicly subsidized daycare system, available to infants aged three months and up, I think daycare from this age can be very hard on infants. Very hard.

I would be in favour of some kind of child-tax credit for families, which could be used for the care that the parents decide to provide their child while they are working (not necessarily daycare), from age one up, be it a nanny or daycare. During the first year of life, I would prefer that the state encourage one parent to stay at home, via a long parental leave. The Canadian provinces already provide one of the longest maternity leaves in the world, second only to the Scandinavian countries. Is it also available to dads? That would be the next step.

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Globetrotter Parent

By the way, is there any particular reason that you started with the NDP? This seems to indicate a bias on your part. Your comments are additional evidence of bias in their favour.

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Globetrotter Parent

The Globetrotter Parent:

There is currently a $100 per month per child payment that is made to parents of children under 6, in addition to other child-tax credits, which is to be used towards "child care", whether that is to help a parent stay home, help pay for daycare, help pay for a nanny, or whatever. Personally, I think it is too little to make a true difference to most families or to enable them to make a choice they want to make versus one they feel forced into. However, in any case, the NDP has said they will retain this payment in addition to the other measures that they are proposing.

With regards to parental leave, it can be shared between parents. In our case, I took 3 months and my partner took 9 months with our first child and we each took 6 months with our second child. A portion of the leave is designated as "maternity leave", recognizing that birth mothers need time to recover from the birth, but most of the leave is designated as "parental leave" and can be taken by either parent or shared between them.

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

The Globetrotter Parent:

No, there isn't any particular reason why I started with the NDP. You may wish to wait until you see my posts and comments on the other parties before you decide that I am biased in their favour. I am certainly biased AGAINST the Conservatives, which I don't think will be a surprise to most of my readers, but I wouldn't say I'm biased in favour of the NDP. I am, in fact, still an undecided voter at this point in time.

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting


When it comes to access to child care, there are two big issues: There need to be available spaces in the communities where people live/work and it needs to be affordable. Government subsidies can (and should, IMO) help with both of those things, while considering a variety of different models of care.

With regards to the "push to school" or even "push to daycare", I think that is a concern. The universal subsidized daycare in Quebec has meant that there is greater societal pressure for both parents to work and fewer resources for stay-at-home parents.

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I'm on a paternal/parental leave right now; in Quebec at least the father can take up to 37 weeks of part-salary (70% for a while, then 55% for the rest, I believe, and 5 of those weeks are reserved for fathers), and my employer then tops it up to almost full salary. In our particular situation, this works very well as my partner has a job where she can adjust her hours radically and ease back into work (after the 17 reserved-for-mother weeks had elapsed).

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric

I don't doubt that they have numbers, but I don't have the capability to determine if they are true or not.

You and I are alike, I too am a small business owner, an MBA, an investor in small and medium ventures and have been a consultant in emerging technology businesses. That background given, I disagree that small business is a driver of economic growth. The vast majority of small businesses are essentially self-directed jobs, maybe with a few low-level positions. They don't create anywhere close to the number of jobs or growth that, say, the design of new airplane by Bombardier would create, or the opening of a new auto plant, or the attraction of a new pharmaceutical or a video-game studio, etc. Also, self-directed jobs (most small businesses) don't need any further assistance. They are already so far ahead of employees with their amazing tax breaks and exemptions that why would they need any more?

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPerfecting Parenthood

P.S. I just asked my twitter followers to decide which party I should write up next. First reply is the one I do. So the Green Party is up next. Although I guess it could be argued that there is an inherent bias in my followers.

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Perfecting Parenthood:

It is true that those things do create jobs. However, it is exactly those companies that are also fully prepared to move their manufacturing out of Canada if it would increase their profits slightly. I agree that micro firms are not creating a lot of jobs and are usually just self-directed jobs (which did help a lot of people who were laid off during the recent downturn to get back on their feet), but small businesses (5 to 100 employees) are generally responsible for more employment growth and less employment loss than large firms.

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Good summary, interesting discussion in the comments.

Regarding biases: I've been looking forward to these posts since I read that you were doing them again. I am not a Conservative supporter (I am not loyal to any party and am still undecided), but my husband is, and when he talks about his reasons, I can understand -- for the most part -- where he's coming from (not that I necessarily agree). My husband is not socially conservative, but fiscally conservative.

I sincerely hope that you try to post a fair representation of the Conservatives. Most summaries I read about the Conservatives are so anti-Harper that it's hard to place any value on what I'm reading. I really wish more media (including bloggers!) would be more fair and less hysterical.

So much of what is written about the Conservatives is so exaggerated and angry and after reading it I doesn't make me any less likely to vote for them. It just annoys me! If people really want to convince Canadian that it's time for a change, then they'd be much better off by writing about the facts, minus the hysteria and fear-mongering that typically happens at election time.

Let's face it, all those anti-Harper sites? All the Harper-bashing? They are non-Conservative people making fun -- mostly, as it would seem, for the benefit of other non-Conservatives. You're not going to convert anyone with that type of thing. Canadians who typically support the Conservatives (and let's be real here, it's around 40% of us) are not going to be swayed by trash-talk. Facts presented in a balanced, reasonable way is something people are much more likely to read and take to heart.

(This goes for all the parties, it's just the Conservatives are the ones that I see picked on the most these days. It kind of sounds like I pro-Conservative as I read back -- I'm not. I just wish we could discuss politics in a rational way.)

Annie, one of the things I love about your blog is that you are *so great* at presenting things fairly. I hope to see the same of all your posts about all the parties.


April 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFamilyNature

Although, chronologically speaking, the Cons should be last, since they only very recently revealed their actual platform.

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkarengreeners

You wrote: "It is true that those things do create jobs. However, it is exactly those companies that are also fully prepared to move their manufacturing out of Canada if it would increase their profits slightly."

You've supported the point. The business environment needs to be managed to ensure that it remains just attractive enough to these companies who have the option to operate globally. It isn't merely taxes, it is infrastructure, the clusters of supporting industry, the expertise.

These are tough decisions because it does appear that you are pandering to big business while not giving the same treatment to citizens, so it is easy for people to criticize. This is what I sense that the NDP does, so I worry that they will spit on the business employing thousands to help out small service businesses that don't produce anything and rely themselves on consumers having money from being employed by big business. Yet it's employees, not small or large businesses, who pay nearly all the taxes in Canada. Giving big business tax breaks to hire thousands of people is not a bad thing at all.

I'm not saying the NDP _will_ do that, it's just what I sense from the way they talk. I think they do have a valuable role because the "little guy" needs to be remembered too.

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPerfecting Parenthood

FYI, in Saskatchewan, as of almost five years ago, fathers employed by the Saskatchewan Government were made eligible for a 'top-up' of their EI to 85% of their salary for 17(?) weeks of parental leave. Prior to that, any SK government employee who was a father had to take holidays to stay at home for a portion of the child's first year, or go on unpaid leave. (Not including the option to prepay into the deferred salary leave program that they have.) I was pregnant with our last child when this benefit was extended to include fathers - we were very appreciative!

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

I like how you're breaking down the family-related platforms and doing this post-by-post. I can't wait to read them all, Annie. I am a very informed and decided voter at this time, but I still like to watch this stuff unfold.
I'm curious as to if you are going to do a more opinionated piece, after you've covered all 4 parties.

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Sugarpants

Oops! All *5* parties.

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Sugarpants

Sorry Annie, reread my comment and saw that I wrote: "because it does appear that you are pandering". Understand that I didn't mean you (Annie), but government.

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPerfecting Parenthood

I am enjoying this conversation. I am always an "undecided voter" going into these elections. I can never find a party that fits my desires and ideals for Canada. I tend to be socially conservative, yet fiscally liberal. Abortion is one issue that I *would* like to see brought up with the government, but even the Conservatives have vowed that no one would and have forbidden anyone to touch it with a 10 ft pole! How's that for democracy and representing one's constituents?
I agree with what you said, Annie:
"With regards to the “push to school” or even “push to daycare”, I think that is a concern. The universal subsidized daycare in Quebec has meant that there is greater societal pressure for both parents to work and fewer resources for stay-at-home parents."
I am concerned with the daycare issue in that I see us more and more becoming a daycare culture who doesn't raise their own children. I think the government should encourage families to keep their young ones with them as long as possible, not send them off to daycare or school asap. This is important for their overall health and development; for example, breastfeeding, and this, longer than 6 months, or 12 months - but as long as the baby needs. This is why I resent the $7 a day daycare in Quebec! I am a stay at home mom of 5, and I do not see many incentives given to mothers to stay home and mother their babies for an acceptable period of time. The waiting lists for these daycares are years long! and if you want to keep your spot in the day care, you will start using it as soon as possible! Even if your baby is only a few months old, even if you do not want or need to return to work yet. Plus, many wealthy families take advantage of the $7 a day and fill a spot that would be better given to a lower income family or single mother in need! We don't need the government to cover the cost to babysit our kids, but it would be nice to have a leg up where someone is truly needy. I also feel that in this daycare culture, mothers are only made to feel valued and supported by going out of the home to work, not to make the sacrifices necessary to stay at home and raise the kids till they're school-age. Why did they make kindergarten all-day? So that the mothers could get back to work. I don't appreciate that attitude toward mothers. I am glad that I receive $100 per month, per child so I can buy beer and popcorn (just joking!) - so I can afford things like pre-school, which for us is 2hours, 2x per week for our 4 year-old. So, the NDP promises to keep that? Very good.
I also am concerned about healthcare. Doctors are very rare, and it's difficult to get a family doctor, as most are not accepting new patients. My son has been waiting to be called for surgery for 11 months, when the surgeon himself told me I would receive a phone call in about 3 months, for the operation to take place 1 month after that. We called the office after waiting 5 months and the receptionist said the doctor should have said to wait 6 months. --- and we're still waiting. This operation is supposed to take place when the child is around, or before one year old, and now he's going on 2. Plus, we need more jobs for midwives.
Currently, I am interested in the NDP because I do believe they really care about (most) people (unfortunately excluding the unborn), and I think they have some great ideas for helping Canadians live better lives. Are these ideas feasible financially? I don't know, I don't understand all the ins and outs of economics, but I am leaning in their direction so far I think.
Thanks for the great discussion.

April 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCindy

Now that's a great comment! I would bet that the ideas are NOT financially feasible, but as Annie said, I do not know for sure. See Quebec as the standard, basically the government cannot make what you want happen. Health is a provincial jurisdiction, so it is interesting that the federal NDP are making promises about that: Quebec has chosen not to spend on doctors (or teachers) but to spend on daycare and maternity/paternity leave and cheap university education. They collect over 50% of a person's income in taxes already, and have a very high consumption tax, yet they can't make ends meet. Doubtlessly they are full of corrupt and incompetent politicians, but that's what you get when promise anything and everything to get in to government. In order to get more doctors the government has to entice them. Doctors exist, but they move to the well-paying jurisdictions like the US or even the other Canadian provinces.

I think Quebec has been successful at creating a good and diverse economy. So even though their personal income taxes are the highest in Canada, their corporate income taxes are close to the lowest and they provide good incentives to big business located in the province. Hence, you do have a lot of business in Quebec, therefore a lot of jobs. Too bad the NDP are against big business, so they lose even that advantage.

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPerfecting Dad

If Quebec is collecting over 50% of your income in taxes, you need a better accountant!

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I'm surprised to see so many comments on the NDP and so few on the other parties. Anyone want to jump in on the other posts?

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Sorry, you're right, they push the combined federal/provincial marginal rate over 50%. And you're right, the poor (like teachers) and the tax evaders (99% of small business owner) pay less as well.

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPerfecting Dad

I think it's because you mistook the Green and the Bloc for major political parties that someone would consider voting for :)

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPerfecting Dad

I can't find any scenario under which the combined federal/provincial tax rate would be over 50%. Even with a really bad accountant and no teachers or small business owners in the family. ;)

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Income of 82K or higher. @ 82K marginal federal rate = 26%, QC = 24%, total = 50%. Add in EI and CPP/QPP (these are taxes too, they go into general revenue) and you get over 50% even faster - but I don't know when. At 40K, Quebec income tax hits 20%, the next highest province (NS) collects 15% and many collect under 10%. I think it's well known that QC is a high tax jurisdiction ... I will give it credit that the corporate tax rates are quite low and they have a very high number of small businesses, and a thriving under-the-table economy as well. Actual income taxes are probably much lower than the advertised rates except for those unlucky enough to have jobs. As well, average (reported) income in QC is about the 3rd lowest of any province so you might even consider that a tax. In other provinces for example, daycare has to be paid by the employee so an equivalent job might need to be paid $12000 more in another province that doesn't have a universal daycare subsidy. It's all apples and oranges!

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPerfecting Dad

It is actually a bit less because of the way that the taxes are calculated and applied. The actual marginal tax rates for federal and provincial tax combined can be found in this table: http://www.taxtips.ca/taxrates/qc.htm. That doesn't include EI (which I do consider a tax) and CPP (which I wouldn't consider a tax).

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

If your marginal rate dominates your overall tax rate, then not only do you lack a good accountant, you also either play in the NHL, are the CEO of one of those businesses Quebec attracts with its low tax rate, or manage construction on government contracts. The marginal rate is always higher than your actual overall rate, and usually a lot higher for citizens at no-private-jet income levels.

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric

I think the NDP can find plenty of money by getting involved in fewer wars, holding big ostentatious meetings away from downtown Toronto, taking it easy on the corporate tax cuts (it's not like there haven't been quite a few in recent years) and by using open bidding on contracts to purchase military hardware.

I do agree that Quebec's knocking the price of daycare (and only full-day, day-shift daycare, by the way) way down for everybody seems like a lack of specificity and a rather perverse incentive to warehouse the kids for 45 hours a week. I think the expanded parental insurance/leave was a much better idea (and it does support strategies like going back with greatly reduced hours, to keep in touch with work while being very involved with).

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric

*with the kids -- oops, hit submit too fast.

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric

You're right, for sure the marginal income tax rate is the highest rate. My average rate is around 1/3rd.

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPerfecting Dad

You're right, I double checked. Quebec, of course, has their marginal rates but they also provide an abatement of the federal tax (why they wouldn't just lower their own marginal rate I don't know) to each taxpayer. So in QC only you can't add both the federal rate + provincial rate. I used the official marginal rates published by the two governments. Don't I have egg on my face!

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPerfecting Dad

I totally agree with you that the government spends way too much. Can't believe the bill for things like the G8, long-gun registry, plus whatever else we don't know about. The jets, I don't know .. I think to assume that they just bought because they felt like paying more is a bit simple, there must be a reason, right or wrong, more involved than that. My own opinion is that we are somehow involved in a group purchase with other countries, but I have no idea. I wish they would just say why they didn't go to tender.

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPerfecting Dad

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