Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day 7: Week 1 in the books

Conservatives: Here For Workers Plan
Liberals: Family Care EI Benefit, Family Care Tax Benefit
NDP: Hire 1,200 doctors and 6,000 nurses

Fairness would dictate that I start with the NDP today.  Their proposal put forth today is to provide "investments" to hire 1,200 more doctors and 6,000 more nurses.  What more needs to be said, other than health care is a provincial responsibility, and that "investment" means throwing money at it.  No other details were released.
Cost: Unspecified

The Liberals added another plank to their platform by announcing 2 programs - the Family Care EI Benefit and the Family Care Tax Benefit.  The EI benefit promises 6 months of EI in the case of a worker who must take time off to care for a gravely ill family member.  The FCTB is, like the Child Tax Benefit, a program to cut a cheque of up to $1,350 to low and middle income families who are caring for a family member at home.  Together, these mark the third and fourth policies from the Liberals to promise to cut a cheque to someone to help them out in some way.  On the surface, the EI benefit might be a winner, except that we don't know what is considered a gravely ill family member, nor can this benefit be added to the existing EI system without an increase in the general EI contribution rate.  The FCTB is another program which is unspecific as to how one qualifies, and realistically helps a family no more than the existing programs.
Cost: $1 Billion

The Conservative's policy announcement is a hodgepodge of extensions of existing programs and two new initiatives - all of which were in the March 22nd budget.  The biggest part of the announcement was to propose the elimination of the mandatory retirement age for federally regulated workers, and enhancements to the part time Student Loans program to make it easier for a person to study while they work.  The enhancements also reduces the interest rate on the student loans to nil while the person is studying.  The other announcements were extensions of currently operating EI programs.
Cost: Unspecified

Who wins the day?  The NDP, depending on how you feel about the federal government intruding into Provincial jurisdiction.  The NDP also wins, depending on how many of their "new hires" happens to actually make it to the prairies and not settle in the large cities. The Conservatives are leaning on the "steady hand" approach and not really attempting to buy off the voters this time around.  I wonder how it's actually going to work out for them.  The Liberals have $2.5 Billion left to announce in their platform as they make promises based on the assumption that raising corporate tax rates by 1.5 points will net them $6 Billion.

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