Letter: Voting on programs or personalities?

We could focus on the right stuff, strengthening our country

Voting on programs or personalities?

Are we voting on programs or personalities? As voters, we have to realize the consequences for not voting in a government offering the right program(s) — and by “right” I mean, getting the most for our taxpayer dollars. Consider the longevity of a program and the benefits it can offer Canadian society!

I am a senior, and readers might think I have no skin in the game, but I was curious about the nationwide childcare program proposed by Liberals. At $10 a day families will be able to save money. Stress is reduced, women can return to work happily knowing their children are safe, are getting an early childhood education under standardized care, it’s a win-win. The Liberals’ plan to create more openings for placement. This program will pay childcare workers a better wage, and it gives this industry a future. It will create jobs. Now, not only does this working mom pay taxes, her family can think about home ownership. Eventually there is more money to spend at local businesses.

There is a benefit for business as well. Because working mothers can see a future for themselves, they develop skill sets, get an education, and their commitment has a trickle down effect on performance and business outcome. In the long term, the business owner can grow their business because it is operated by individuals they can rely on. Security and stability of the Canadian workforce has a foothold in the country.

Let’s look at the Conservative plan.

a) A family will apply for their refundable tax credit at the end of each tax year, and this credit will be based on 75 per cent of childcare costs.

You pay childcare costs upfront in the first year that you file. Then you receive regular installments throughout the following years (it is not clear if this will be based on your tax return or a set amount).

The average cost of childcare runs $600 to $1,600 a month depending on the province you reside in. There will always be a shortfall between what you get from the government and what you actually pay in childcare costs. Record keeping will be essential to not only file your return; but also, determine what you are actually paying.

b) This program stipulates that lower-income families will benefit the most.

You might think you are eligible for the full tax credit; but wait, a refundable tax credit is applied against the tax you owe. The Conservatives are saying: if you earn $30,000 annually, you are eligible for a maximum refund of $6,000.

If after filing you owe $400 in taxes and qualify for a $6,000 refundable childcare tax credit, you would then receive a reduced refund of $5,600.

In my mind, the excitement around this benefit diminishes when I am asked to front large monthly costs awaiting a refund that is portioned. How does a single mother earning $30,000 living in Ontario, the province with the highest childcare costs, even manage to pay for childcare? Families could be left out of the program.

CRA states, childcare expenses must be claimed by the parent with the lower net income (with a few exceptions found in Part C and D of form T778 E). If you don’t work, file a tax return at year-end anyway — it would appear you are eligible for a refundable tax credit. If you qualify for an exception, you will have to decide whether to file separate returns or as a married couple, depending on total income and other deductions. It gets complicated and may require tax-planning advice. Nevertheless, Mr. O’Toole must be right, the lower-income families will benefit the most, but once you earn upwards of $50,000 or payroll does not take off enough taxes throughout the year, this rebate would be reduced.

c) Administration at the federal level will be needed to expedite this program, creating a few jobs.

d) In the Conservative Recovery Plan, there are no plans to develop/educate the childcare workforce, open more spots for children or create standards for childcare delivery. The onus remains with private business or provincial governments to establish these. The pay grid is woefully inadequate to attract qualified childcare workers. Parents right across the country will continue to expend their energy juggling and arranging childcare. An inadequate childcare system holds the country back, and stalls economic recovery when energies could contribute to building the economy instead.

Did you know?

Eight provinces have already signed up for the childcare program proposed by Liberals. Ontario is in negotiations.

What to choose? There’s a sizeable difference in the approach presented by these two parties. Pay between $600 to $1,600 each month and wait for your Conservative refund (not really sure what that will be) or pay a steady $200/month with the Liberal program (regardless of where you live). The object is to improve your financial means, so you can finally start making life plans. The question remains: who helps in the best possible way? With one plan, you need money in your pocket to start, with the other plan; you get a better service with more options. Dear Voter, there is the added risk that the Conservative tax credit could be lowered or removed at any time.

Did you know?

When asked during the TVA election debate, Sept. 2, Mr. O’Toole did not deny he would scrap the Liberal childcare program and replace it with his plan; in addition he will stop the agreed-upon transfer payment to Quebec.

Until I researched this issue I had little idea of its implications. Like I said, I have no skin in the game; I am a senior, but I know a better plan when I see one.

And if you are wondering how we are going to pay for this, the economy is built from the bottom up, by hard working individuals! On the agenda: money in the pockets of everyday Canadians, and building a reliable Canadian workforce.

So you don’t like Mr. Trudeau. By opposing him with your vote, is your objective also to sabotage Canada? I get that Canadians are in a honeymoon phase getting to know Mr. O’Toole. Take a moment now to appreciate his roots: his father was a politician, so he grew up in a political household, he is a lawyer, he was a minister in Mr. Harper’s cabinet and he won his party’s leadership by appealing to social conservatives, the extreme right within his party. Let it be known, there is no perfect candidate.

An election is not about personalities. It’s about policies and programs. Check in with unbiased old school reporting. Drop newspapers and news networks that hype up personalities and wedge issues, leaving out the plans and programs. Know who is feeding you information: consider the ownership, foreign or domestic, the size of the corporation and its holdings across Canada, does it dominate and what is their political agenda. Things are not what they seem.

If I could say but one thing, I’d say: “Use the good brain that God gave you.” If we could stop living in the past, believing social media and demonizing our leaders, we could focus on the right stuff, strengthening our country. Otherwise we get what we deserve.

Catherine Worthingham