The Canadian Pre-Election Rundown

What are the Top Five Parties Saying about Housing?

Today is the day Canadians will vote in one of the most exciting elections to hit the polls over the last several decades. Looking over the top five party’s platforms, here is a brief summary of what they are saying about protecting Canadian communities and the homeowner.

The Bloc Québécois Party:

Led by Gilles Duceppe, the Bloc promises its voters to:

  • Implement a 10-year, interest-free loan program for first-time home buyers
  • Provide financing to maintain and build social housing
  • Provide tax incentives to help families convert their home heating system from heating oil to electricity, produced predominantly from renewable energy
  • Take various measures to reduce Quebec’s dependence on oil
  • Immediately increase monthly benefits for the least wealthy seniors by $110 and provide full retroactivity of benefits for seniors who have suffered serious financial harm
  • Abolish release of criminals after one sixth of sentence is served
  • Remove GST on books

The Conservative Party of Canada:

The Conservative Party of Canada says that thus far they have taken the following initiatives in urban communities:

  • Worked effectively with the provinces and municipalities to deliver historic investments in local infrastructure, including better highways, roads, bridges, water- and wastewater systems, housing, college and university facilities, public transit, and green energy
  • Doubled the Gas Tax Fund and made it permanent, to provide a predictable stream of revenue to allow municipalities to plan and fund improvements to essential infrastructure
  • Provided special funding, through the Communities Component of the Building Canada Fund, to address the unique needs of smaller municipalities
  • Established the Public Transit Tax Credit, to encourage the use of public transit and help protect the environment
  • Cracked down on guns, gangs, and drugs; established the Youth Gang Prevention Fund, providing support for successful community programs to help at-risk youth to avoid involvement in gangs and criminal activity; and supported the recruitment of 2,500 police officers across Canada
  • Invested $400-million in better housing for low income seniors

And will in future:

  • Extend by one year the ecoENERGY Retrofit-Homes Program to support energy-saving projects by providing grants up to $5,000 per unit to offset the cost of energy-efficient improvements
  • Establish a tax credit of $2,000 to support family caregivers.
  • Provide a top-up benefit to the Guaranteed Income Supplement received by eligible seniors
  • Double the Tax-Free Savings Account limit

The Green Party of Canada:

“We are not a one issue party. We are more than you think.” This is one of Elizabeth May and the Green Party’s many messages for Canadian voters this year. In addition the Green Party commits to:

  • Increase passenger rail, modernize freight and retrofit thousands of buildings to high standards for energy efficiency
  • Increase play grounds, bike paths, community gardens, green spaces, strong schools, decent housing and a public health care system that addresses all aspects of well-being in communities
  • Support those who stay home to raise children and those re-entering the workforce while their children are young
  • Make it easier to telecommute to work or work from home
  • Lower income taxes and introduce full income splitting to reduce tax burden on married couples and families
  • Provide funding to municipalities to repair decades-old infrastructure and build for the future, including community amenities such as recreation, transportation, water works, art and culture

The Liberal Party of Canada:

Under Michael Ignatieff, the Liberals have promised the following to families and communities:

  • Cancellation of Harper Government’s corporate income tax cuts
  • To invest in affordable housing – a total of $500-million – through a renewed Affordable Housing Framework that aims to reduce homelessness, maintain and renew existing affordable housing stock, and stimulate new construction of affordable housing
  • A new six-month Family Care Employment Insurance Benefit so that more Canadians can take time off work to care for gravely ill family members at home without having to quit their jobs
  • A new Family Care Tax Benefit, modeled on the Child Tax Benefit, to help low- and middle-income family caregivers who provide essential care to a family member at home
  • Boost the Guaranteed Income Supplement benefit for low-income seniors by $700 million per year in the effort to eliminate poverty among seniors, especially older women and seniors with disabilities
  • Implement a Green Renovation Tax Credit with the goal of retrofitting more than one million homes by 2017 – up to $13,500 per home toward green renovations
  • Development of a Poverty Reduction Plan, applying more than $5-billion over two years in efforts to reduce inequality, strengthen communities and increase access to education for all groups
  • Improve the long gun registry

The NDP:

The Jack Layton-led NDP has vowed to do the following for Canadian communities:

  • Enact legislation to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians
  • Restore funding for the homeowners Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP), and the Affordable Housing Initiative to increase the supply of affordable housing, in partnership with the provinces and territories
  • Introduce a home heating federal sales tax rebate to give household budgets a break
  • Introduce a permanent Eco-energy retrofit program to cut home heating bills, reduce greenhouse gases and create jobs
  • Provide an inter-generational Home Retrofit Program to help families retrofit their homes to accommodate senior family members
  • Introduce a Canadian Food Strategy that will combine health goals, environmental goals, food quality objectives, local and organic choices for consumers across the country
  • Keep communities safe from crime by investing in a balanced, effective approach based on prevention, policing, and prosecution, increasing federal support to crime prevention initiatives from $65 million to $100 million per year
  • Work with the provinces, territories, and First Nations communities to provide stable, multi-year funding to eventually put at least 2,500 new police officers permanently on the streets
  • Give parents, teachers and police more tools to protect children by making gang recruiting illegal, and establishing a comprehensive Correctional Anti-Gang Strategy to ensure that prisons do not serve as “crime schools” to train gang-involved offenders
  • Create new, stand-alone offences for home invasion and carjacking
  • Enact, the so-called “Lucky Moose” bill – a law that would allow citizens to detain criminals within “a reasonable amount of time” after a crime is committed

Full party platforms can be found on the corresponding political party’s web page. Polls are open 12 hours in every time zone.

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