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How are the federal parties promising to make your life more affordable?

Last Updated Sep 30, 2019 at 4:16 pm EST

Federal party leaders Elizabeth May, Andrew Scheer, Jagmeet Singh and Justin Trudeau. CITYNEWS

Affordability has emerged as a dominant theme in the first weeks of the election campaign with the federal parties making numerous promises to Canadian citizens on how they plan to make your life more affordable, but is it enough to make the City of Toronto livable for everyone?

Below is a full list of the promises the Conservatives, Liberals, the NDP and the Green Party have made in relation to housing affordability, child care and health care.

While the NDP and the Greens have released their entire platforms, the Conservatives and the Liberals have been making daily announcements, so this list will be updated as more information is released.


Conservative Party

With the campaign slogan, “It’s time for you to get ahead,” the Conservatives have focused their pitch to Canadians as the party that will make Canadian lives’ more affordable. So far, they have released their plan to make home ownership more affordable, along with where they will be re-directing $1.5 billion from “taxpayer handouts that went to wealthy executives, shareholders, and foreign companies.”

Their plan for affordable home ownership includes:

  • Loosen the mortgage qualification stress test so first-time home buyers aren’t prevented from accessing mortgages;
  • Re-introduce a 30-year mortgage from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation for first-time buyers to help lower monthly payments;
  • Start an inquiry into money laundering in real estate;
  • Make surplus federal land available for housing developments.

 

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has also announced that by cancelling $1.5 billion in corporate welfare, he will redirect the money back into Canadians pockets with a series of tax cuts:

  • Remove the GST from home heating, which they estimate will save the average household $107;
  • Make maternity benefits tax-free, which would provide up to $4,000 in savings;
  • A public transit tax credit that would apply at tax time to any transit pass allowing for unlimited travel within Canada;
  • A universal tax cut on the lowest federal income bracket, which the party says would save a working couple up to $850;
  • Introduce a Children’s Fitness Tax Credit, saving parents up to $150 and a Children’s Arts and Learning Tax credit worth up to $75.
  • Allow more Canadians to qualify for the disability tax credit by reducing the number of hours spent per week on life-sustaining therapy needed to qualify for the credit from 14 to 10 and expand the definition for that therapy.

Liberal Party

The Liberals have steered their campaign to the issue of affordability with several promises in connection to housing affordability, tax cuts for the middle class and childcare.

A series of promises from the Liberals have been focused on being able to afford a house. They are the following:

  • In expensive ridings, including Toronto, the maximum eligible home price to qualify for the First Time Home Buyer Incentive would be raised to $769,000, up from $505,000 nationwide. The tax cut provides up to 10 per cent off a home;
  • Add a one per cent National Housing Speculation Tax on vacant homes owned by non-resident, non-Canadians;
  • Track foreign ownership through Statistics Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

 

For making daily life more affordable, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has proposed:

  • No tax on the first $15,000 of income you earn up to $147,667 a year or less starting in 2023, which would save individual Canadians $292 and families $585;
  • Cut cell phone bills by 25 per cent.
  • Hike the federal minimum wage to $15.
  • Extend employment insurance sickness benefits to 26 weeks from 15 weeks.
  • Create a “career insurance benefit” to kick in after EI benefits run out for long-time employees of a business that shuts down.
  • Increase Canada Student Grants by 40 per cent.
  • Extend a student-loan-repayment grace period to two years from six months.
  • Increase the threshold at which recent graduates would have to start repaying loans to $35,000 of income, up from $25,000.
  • Allow new parents to pause repayments until their youngest child turns five, without accruing interest during that time.

 

Child care and tax cuts for families with children:

  • Create 250,000 child care spots for children under 10, which will cost an estimated $535 million per year and lower fees by 10 per cent — an anticipated savings of $800 a year for a family with two children;
  • Increase the Canada Child Care benefit by 15 per cent for kids under one year old, up to $1,000;
  • Remove federal taxes from employment insurance (EI) payments for maternity and parental leave;
  • Introduce an extra 15 weeks of leave for adoptive parents on top of the 35 weeks covered by EI for adoptive parents;
  • Build a National Guaranteed Paid Family Leave system that includes those who don’t qualify for EI.

 

For seniors:

  • After age 75, increase Old Age Security by 10 per cent, which the Liberals say would pull 20,000 seniors out of poverty;
  • Increase the Canada Pension Plan survivor benefit by 25 per cent, up to $2,000 a year.

 

Health care:

  • Improve access to doctors or primary health care teams and mental health services
  • Move forward with a National Pharmacare plan

NDP

The NDP have released their full platform including over 30 promises to make life more affordable for Canadians.

In terms of making housing more affordable, the NDP have promised:

  • Rent subsidies of up to $5,000 for families paying more than 30 per cent of their pre-tax income toward housing;
  • Build 500,000 units of affordable housing over the next 10 years, spending $5 billion within the first 1.5 years after taking over;
  • Kick start co-ops with “fast-start funds” to streamline the application process and expertise from communities;
  • Waive federal GST/HST on affordable housing construction;
  • Re-introduce a 30-year mortgage from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation;
  • Provide rent relief for families (no further details released on this promise);
  • Double the Home Buyers Tax Credit to $1,500;
  • Facilitate co-housing to access Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation funding;
  • Impose of 15 per cent National Foreign Buyer’s Tax for non-resident non Canadians.

 

For child care:

  • Introduce a law that commits Canada to high-quality affordable and available child care;
  • Put $1 billion into child care in 2020 and grow that annually.
  • Spend $10 billion over the next four years to create 500,000 new child-care spaces.
  • Establish free or low-cost childcare for all Canadian families by 2030, with the daily fee topping out at about $10 per child.

 

For workers:

  • Give more people access to employment insurance (EI) by implementing a universal qualifying threshold that doesn’t change based on industry;
  • Restore the EI appeals process;
  • Give seasonal employees would get an extra five weeks to bridge the gap between EI and when seasonal work begins;
  • Increase income replacement on EI to 60 per cent of your salary and create a low-income supplement to ensure no one gets less than $1,200 a month;
  • Extend sickness benefits to 50 weeks and start a pilot project for workers with recurring disabilities;
  • Protect the EI operating account so it isn’t lumped into the general revenue for the government;
  • Give parents the option to take a shorter leave at a higher income replacement rate;
  • Allow self-employed people to opt into parental leave;
  • Double parental leave for parents of twins or triplets.

 

For seniors:

  • Create a national seniors’ strategy that includes a funded national dementia strategy and pharmacare;
  • Help seniors to paperwork for Guaranteed Income Supplement;
  • Make the Canada Caregiver Tax Credit refundable
  • Include accessible housing in their affordable housing plan;
  • Create a Pension Advisory Commission to advise on strengthening Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement, and Canada Pension Plan;
  • Make sure pensioners are the first to be paid out in a company bankruptcy.

 

Health care:

  • Include dental care in the Canada Health Act;
  • Free mental health services, eye care and hearing care;
  • Pharmacare for all.

 

Other affordability promises:

  • Launch a national basic income pilot program and continue Ontario’s program;
  • Price cap on cell phone plans so Canadians don’t pay more than the global average;
  • Create a one per cent wealth tax on those earning over $20 million;
  • Boost capital gains including rate from 50 per cent to 75 per cent;
  • Increase tax rate for people making over $210,000 from 33 per cent to 35 per cent;
  • Close tax loopholes for the wealthy.

Green Party

The Green Party has focused their affordability plan on taxing corporations and making housing more affordable. Their full platform for affordability is:

On corporate taxation:

  • Establish a federal tax commission to analyze system for fairness and reform system to deal with modern economy;
  • Close tax loopholes that benefit the wealthy;
  • End offshore tax dodging by giving the Canada Revenue Agency funding tools to chase tax dodgers;
  • Eliminate all fossil fuel subsidies;
  • Force e-commerce companies like Amazon, Google, and Uber to register locally and pay sales tax;
  • Increase corporate tax rates to match the U.S. from 15 to 21 per cent;
  • Keep small business taxes the same.

 

For housing:

  • Legislate housing as fundamental human right;
  • Appoint a minister of housing to strengthen the National Housing Strategy and collaborate with provinces;
  • Build 25,000 new housing units and 15,000 renovate units every year for the next 10 years;
  • Increase housing co-investment fund by $750 million for new builds
  • Increase Canada Housing Benefit by $750 million for rent assistance to 125,000 households;
  • Create a Canada Co-Op Housing Strategy to promote co-op living’
  • Eliminate the first-time home buyer grant;
  • Allow the Canada Infrastructure bank to support provincial and municipal housing projects;
  • Fund non-profit housing organizations that are building housing for seniors, those with special needs and low-income families;
  • Restore tax incentives for building rental housing and create a tax credit for gifting lands for the creation of affordable housing;
  • Change mandate of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to focus on developing affordable non-market and co-ops.

 

For health care:

  • Expand Medicare to include Pharmacare for all;
  • Free dental care for low-income Canadians.

 

For workers:

  • Bring in a Guaranteed Livable Income as workforce becomes automated;
  • Establish a $15 national minimum wage;
  • Work with cities to set municipal minimum wage to reflect local costs of living;
  • Increase the tax credit for volunteer firefighters and search and rescue volunteers;
  • Update bankruptcy laws to protect workers’ pensions from corporate shut downs

 

Other affordability promises:

  • Establish a “right to repair” law that requires companies to provide replacement parts for products;
  • Limit credit card interests rates to 10 percentage points above the prime;
  • Limit ATM fees to $1 and prohibit banks from charging their own customers’ ATM fees;
  • Increase competition for cell phone and internet plans;
  • Raise the amount seniors get from the Canada Pension Plan from 25 per cent of retirement income to 50 per cent working income.