A continuing review of the Green Party of Canada’s Platform:
Part 4: People
Once we envision the society we want, we clearly see its outlines.
Vibrant communities are places where, as Jane Jacobs described, people know their neighbours, streets are safe and friendly, and volunteering for the public good is common, leading to feelings of affiliation, belonging, and empowerment.
Without intending to do so, government policy, by treating such goals as peripheral to economic growth, has allowed feelings of alienation, hostility, and selfishness to crowd out shared values of decades ago.
As Martin Luther King Jr. noted, you cannot legislate morality. Nevertheless, when the human scale of government policy is ignored, when the tax system, employment strategies, and labour policies all mitigate towards less leisure and family time, more time in long commutes, and an increasingly “time-stressed” population, as measured by Statistics Canada, government policy should adjust its goals to re-balance and protect these fundamental pillars of our civilization – family and community.
In the last few years, quality of life, as measured in our ability to get ahead and enjoy more leisure time, has declined for 90 % of Canadians. Homelessness, and mental health and drug addiction problems, have increased. The cost of post-secondary education and training has sky-rocketed. The gap between rich and poor in Canada has widened. Women, on average, still earn far less than men. The middle class is struggling. Given the wealth and resources of our country, this is tragic.
4.1 Family-focused program
Increasingly, national and international studies document significant stress on Canadian children and their parents. While it is true that an unacceptably large number of Canadian families live in poverty, many more are suffering from “time poverty.” Statistics Canada tracks time stress of Canadians and reports a steady increase in Canadians who report not having enough time in their lives to accomplish all required tasks. Longer commutes rob Canadians of time at home. Longer working hours rob community members of time for volunteer activities. Poorly planned transit and the lack of convenient workplace child care spaces rob parents of time with their kids.
There is a real cost to society as citizens have less and less time to contribute to community and school activities. Not surprisingly, Statistics Canada also reports a steady decline in volunteer hours donated by Canadians. Lack of time to contribute to community also leads to feelings of loss and alienation. On the other hand, time spent in effort to better our society leads to positive feelings of affiliation (belonging) and of empowerment (knowing one’s actions make a difference.) Greens will address this multi-layered problem in many policies: fiscal, labour and social programs.
The tax policy of a Green Government will increase the opportunity for Canadians to spend more time with family. More and more adults with full-time employment outside the home are stressed and stretched to care for elderly parents, children, partners or spouses with debilitating illness, and any family members with disabilities. Families deserve the option of having one partner work from home, maintaining a family garden, pursuing a career in the arts where steady paid work is hard to secure, or for any number of reasons.
The Greens are committed to nurturing families and communities through integrated policies that focus on the welfare of the child, starting with prenatal nutrition all the way to affordable housing and accessible post-secondary education. We believe we must stop designing our communities around the car and start designing them around families and children. There are no easy solutions. We have to address the multi-layered problems facing families through new, innovative fiscal, labour, and social policies.
Green Party MPs will:
Urge reforms to our tax and labour policies in ways that will increase the opportunity for Canadians to spend more time with family.
Promote an integrated program of supports, tax cuts, and awareness-raising emphasizing that time spent with children and/or in the community is essential for the continuation of our society.
Comments and discussion are welcomed. I am examining this as I go to gain a better grasp of their platform and invite all who are interested to do the same with comments and discussion.