Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 11: Conservatives & NDP

Conservatives:  Volunteer Firefighter's tax credit and Student Loan Forgiveness for Doctors and Nurses
Liberals: No policy announced
NDP: Forgiveable Loan program, Strengthen EI Compassionate Care, and Tax credit for caregivers

The Conservatives lead off the announcements with two more initiatives from their failed budget.  The Volunteer Firefighter's Tax Credit is a $3000 tax credit ($450 in actual dollars) for any volunteer firefighter who spends 200 hours a year in service to their community.  They also announced forgiveness of student loans for doctors and nurses.  The forgiveness is up to $8000 per year for doctors and $4000 per year for nurses for the first 5 years of qualifying service.
Cost: Unspecified

The NDP countered today by announcing a forgivable loan program to allow people to renovate their houses to prepare for aging relatives to move in.  They also announced an enhancement to the Compassionate Care EI benefit, lengthening the amount of time from 6 weeks to 6 months.  Their final announcement of the day includes a new caregiver tax credit aimed at helping low and middle income families take care of aging relatives.
Cost: Unspecified

The Liberals spent the day attacking the Conservative campaign with no policy announcement.

Things are a little bit different in Saskatchewan than anywhere else in the country, due to the Graduate Retention Rebate Program.  The Conservatives proposed that Volunteer Firefighters keep more of their own money, and I will always agree with someone keeping more of their own money.  They are also proposing to forgive student loans of up to $40,000 for doctors and $20,000 for nurses who work in a rural area for up to 5 years.  I actually agree with this last proposal - if someone is forced to live in a community for 5 years, they will likely put roots down in the community, they will likely meet people, make friends, get married, have children, buy a house - everything that makes it that much harder to leave the community.  I also agree with this last proposal because it targets education subsidies to those students who stay and work in the country they were educated in.  I have a few issues with this proposal: (1) Province is actually the one responsible for Education, and it treads on their turf, (2) Nurses will essentially get paid to go to school if they choose wisely where to settle, and (3) students will still demand tuition freezes and roll backs and bemoan the high cost of tuition.

The NDP proposals seek to cut more cheques to more people.  I rarely agree with a proposal that does this.  I don't agree with a forgivable loan - aging relatives don't need renovations unless they are disabled in some way, in which case they are eligible to claim those renovations as medical expenses.  The EI benefit increase will also serve to increase premiums, and while good on the surface, isn't the intent of the Employment Insurance system.  The Caregiver credit - although I don't know what exactly the intention is and what the rules would be - would be a winner because it leaves more money in the pockets of taxpayers.

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