Pick your party - who are you voting for?
The Bloc Quebecois, under leader Gilles Duceppe, is dedicated to protecting Quebec's interests, saying in their party platform that Quebec's interests often differ from Canada's interests. In this respect, the Bloc plans to support Quebec's forestry, agriculture and fishing industries, and will provide a tax credit for recent graduates who choose to work in rural regions of Quebec.
The Bloc also wants to reform Employment Insurance, making it more accessible for more people. On top of that, they feel that the citizens making the most money should pay more taxes. They propose a two per cent surcharge to those who make between $150,000 and $250,000 per year, and a three per cent surcharge to those making over $250,000.
Conservative Party of Canada
Under leader Stephen Harper, the Conservatives plan to create more tax breaks for post-secondary students. They will forgive up to $40,000 in student loans for doctors and up to $20,000 for nurses who plan on working in rural or Native communities. They will also create an annual investment of $2.2 million to allow more parttime students to be eligible Canada Student Grants.
The Conservatives are dedicated to their economic recovery plan, and will implement a one-year tax break for small businesses to hire new employees. They will also extend two Employment Insurance pilot programs, Working While on Claim and Best 14 Weeks, to support seasonal workers in areas of high unemployment.
Green Party of Canada
As their name suggests, the Green Party of Canada focuses on environmental issues facing Canadians. Under leader Elizabeth May, the Green Party plans to develop a Youth Community and Environment Service Corps, which will provide minimum wage jobs for 40,000 youth aged 18 to 24 for four years, creating a total of 160,000 youth positions. At the end of each yearlong program, there will be a $4,000 tuition credit awarded to each participant.
The Green Party will also increase funding for the needsbased Canadian National Student Loan and Bursary Program. All students will be eligible for guaranteed student loans, up to their tuition rate, regardless of their parent's income. They will also exempt all academic materials from federal sales tax.
Liberal Party of Canada:
Under leader Michael Ignatieff, the Liberal Party plans to implement the Canadian Learning Strategy, including two programs that will support post-secondary education, the Veterans Learning Benefit and the Canadian Learning Passport. The former is a program where veterans of the Canadian Forces who have been honourably discharged will have all costs — including tuition, books, accommodations and living expenses — paid for for up to four years after their service ends. This benefit is available to serving or future members of the Canadian Forces or their spouses, if the veteran is unable to use the benefit.
The Canadian Learning Passport is a program that will encourage families to create a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) for their children. The government will then put $1,000 per year into each student's RESP to use for his or her post-secondary education. If the student is from a low-income family, he/she will receive $1,500 per year. This program will end the Textbook and Education tax credits that currently exist, but the Tuition tax credit, Canada Student Loans Program and associated Canada Student Grant Program will remain in place.
New Democratic Party (NDP)
The NDP, under leader Jack Layton, have proposed a Post- Secondary Education Act, modeled after the Canada Health Act, ensuring provincial and territorial government are better able to provide affordable high-quality education for all Canadian citizens. They will also target investments to small businesses and companies that are actually creating jobs in Canada, cutting the small business tax rate from 11 to nine per cent, and restore corporate tax rates back to 19.5 per cent. The NDP plans to invest funds into smaller, targeted initiatives that are creating jobs. Lastly, they will cap the interest rates on credit cards.
For more information about the federal election, visit itsyourvote.ca, or follow the CBC's coverage, Canada Votes 2011, at cbc.ca.