The federal Liberal Party is one of the two major contenders in next week’s election. If it wins the right to form a government, the party proposes to increase spending on social programs while working towards reducing the national deficit by raising corporate taxes.
In their campaign platform the Liberals suggest that Canada needs to be spending more tax dollars on social measures that would help to create an environment of equal opportunity for all. Specifically the Party promises to invest in child care, post-secondary education, health care, the Canada Pension Plan and providing support to families that need to look after sick family members.
Child care would be provided through a new federally administered fund that provinces could apply to for cost-sharing purposes on initiatives that create more spaces for childcare. Liberals say spending in this way would help to alleviate the costs and waitlists that parents face when seeking childcare. The Early Childhood Learning and Care Fund would receive $500 million in its first year and would become a line item in the budget at $1 billion annually by year four.
The Liberal platform also promises to provide financial assistance to individuals pursuing higher learning opportunities. The establishment of a Canadian Learning Passport would pay out $1,000 annually for four years to college and university students. Students coming from low-income families would receive an annual installment of $1,500. Existing post secondary assistance would change with the elimination of the Textbook and Education tax credit. The passport would be funded with $1 billion annually.
In health care a Liberal government would steer funding towards preventative measures such as promoting healthy eating and active lifestyles. Brain health is identified in the party platform as an increasing societal concern with dementia affecting many Canadians. A brain strategy that emphasizes, research, public education and benefits advocacy for individuals suffering from such diseases is proposed to address the issue. On the topic of prescription drugs, the Liberals would have the federal government play a greater role in equalizing drug costs across the country.
A change to the Canadian Pension Plan would enable employees and their employers to voluntarily establish and contribute to a personal retirement fund backed by the CPP.
The Liberal platform contains two measures intended to support families that provide care to their sick members. An employment insurance benefit would be established for employed individuals that would enable them to take up to six months away from work in order to care for gravely ill family members. For those ineligible for the EI benefit, a monthly Family Care Tax Benefit would be available worth up to $1,350 per year. These two initiatives combined would be funded at $1 billion annually.
Liberals say all of the programs in their platform can be achieved without raising personal income tax, small business tax or the federal portion of the HST. Instead corporate tax rates will increase, increasing government revenue by $5 billion within two years. The Liberal deficit reduction plan commits to achieving a deficit level of one per cent of GDP within two years, after which time rolling targets would be set until a balanced budget is achieved.