Green Party of Canada Platform: 4.2 Relief for the middle class, 4.3 Child care

A continuing review of  the Green Party of Canada’s Platform:

4.2 Relief for the middle class

A healthy democracy requires a large, strong, healthy middle class. The well-being of Canada’s middle class is threatened as the gap between the rich and the poor widens and middle class families find it harder to meet all their needs, in terms of both money and time.

We believe one way to provide relief for Canada’s middle class is through revamping our tax system to enable income splitting within families, and thus a joint calculation of income that will reduce taxes. Approximately 18.7 million Canadians live in families with two or more income earners. Households where one partner is in a higher tax bracket than the other will end up paying less tax when they are allowed to split income on their tax returns. So far the government has only allowed the splitting of pension income, not total income, between senior couples and those caring for a child with a disability. The public groundswell of support for allowing income splitting of all incomes by all couples is growing.

While income splitting does not benefit low-income families or families where income earners earn about the same amount, failure to solve all problems through one measure is not a good reason to fail to solve many problems. Those not helped by the income-splitting move will be helped through targeted programs to assist low-income families.

A major misconception about this measure is that it will increase pressure on women to stay at home to raise their children. Greens believe women’s place in the workforce is now well-entrenched. Women’s rights to make choices about “time-out” in their careers or to stay in the workplace with children must be respected. Income splitting creates more choice. It will allow one spouse the option to take care of an ill or infirm parent or family member, or to take a lower paying job in charitable or NGO work. It will allow one spouse to work from home in growing a garden, in developing artistic talents, in writing for what is often perilously low income. The argument that income splitting will be a socially regressive measure is an important consideration and can be met with programs to ensure women who wish to maintain an unbroken career path after having children, or who wish to return to the workforce after the early years at home, are supported in doing so. Because parents should be able to choose to stay at home with young children, or equally, be supported through high-quality child care if they wish to remain in the workforce, we advocate a range of programs. There is no cookie-cutter, one size fits all, solution for Canadian families. What matters is that programs support choice and the well-being of that which is most precious – our families and children.

Income splitting, with an economic “hit” estimated to be from $3 to 5 billion, will be made possible through revenues from taxing pollution.

Green Party MPs will:

  • Modify the Income Tax Act to enable income splitting, which offers tax benefits particularly to middle income couples where there is a significant differential in the level of income between partners.
  • Reduce income taxes through revenue neutral tax shifting made possible through the carbon tax.

4.3 Child care

Canadian families need access to affordable, high-quality child care as an aspect of early childhood education. There are also clear benefits to maximizing time together for parents with young children. Canadians want a program with flexibility. A cheque for $100/month does not begin to address these needs.

The Greens are committed to a high-quality federally-funded child care program in Canada, accessible to any family that wants to place children into early childhood education. Workplace child care has been shown to improve productivity, decrease employee absenteeism, ensure quality care for children (because parents can “drop in” at any time to see their young children), and permits longer breast-feeding of infants. Work-place child care spaces create other benefits, recognizing the emerging literature that children benefit enormously from time with their mothers, especially when very young.

The beneficent spiral of providing workplace child care also includes making it easier for many working Canadians to use mass transit. When parents and children travel to the same destination, the trip can often be made in less time on public transit, enabling parents to spend more time with children.

Green Party MPs will:

  • Restore and revamp the 2005 agreement reached between the federal government, provinces and territories to achieve a universal access child care program in Canada.

  • Create a national Children’s Commissioner, as recommended by UNICEF, to ensure children’s best interests are considered in policy development and that services across the country are better coordinated.

  • Specifically ensure that Canada’s universal child care program provides workplace child care spaces wherever possible.

  • Tax shift to make advertising directed at children ineligible for corporate tax write-offs.

  • Accelerate the creation of workplace child care spaces through a direct tax credit to employers (or groups of employers in small businesses) of $1500 tax credit/child per year.

  • Value the decisions of parents who choose to stay home with children.

  • Promote and facilitate access to the Roots of Empathy Program, an effective, award-winning program developed by a non-profit educational organization, to all Canadian children at some point in their elementary school years.

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.

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