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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pensions-Child Care-Post Secondary Education-Affordable Housing-Child Poverty

NDP Platform: Give your family a break

1.1 Strengthening Pensions and Retirement Security

  • We will work with the provinces to bring about increases to your Canada/Quebec Pension Plan benefit, with the eventual goal to double the benefits you receive;
  • We will work with the provinces to build-in the flexibility for you and your employer to make voluntary contributions to your individual public pension account;
  • We will amend federal bankruptcy legislation to move pensioners and long-term disability recipients to the front of the line of creditors when their employers enter court protection or declare bankruptcy;
  • We will increase the annual Guaranteed Income Supplement to a sufficient level in the first budget to lift every senior in Canada out of poverty immediately.

1.2 Improving Family and Maternity Leave Benefits

  • We will provide a more flexible and generous Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefit to permit family members to take up to six months leave from work to tend to relatives near the end of their lives, up from the current six weeks;
  • We will introduce a new Caregiver Benefit, modelled after the Child Tax Benefit, to assist low and middle-income families in tackling the costs of everyday needs while caring for elderly or dependant family members. Eligible family members will include children, spouses, parents and other family members, and will be able to receive up to $1,500 per year;
  • We will provide a more flexible and generous Employment Insurance benefit to permit family members to take leave from work to tend to relatives at home at the end of life;
  • We will ensure that new parents who have taken maternity and parental leave are not penalized on Employment Insurance benefits once they return to work.

1.3 Improving Access to Child Care and Post-Secondary Education

  • We will work with the provinces and territories to establish and fund a Canada-wide child care and early learning program, enshrined in law, with the following goals:
    • The creation of 25,000 new child care spaces per year for the next four years;
    • Improvements to community infrastructure to support the growth of child care spaces;
    • The creation of integrated, community-based, child-centred early learning and education centres that provide parents with a “one-stop shop” for family services.
  • We will make post-secondary education more affordable by directly attacking skyrocketing tuition costs with a designated $800 million transfer to the provinces and territories to lower tuition fees, as per the NDP’s Post Secondary Education Act;
  • We will increase the funding in the Canada Student Grants Program by $200 million a year, targeting accessibility for Aboriginal, disabled and low-income students, in particular;
  • We will raise the education tax credit from $4,800 per year to $5,760 per year to help with increasing education costs.

1.4 Delivering Affordable Housing to Canadians

  • We will enact the NDP’s legislation to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians;
  • We will 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;
  • We will provide significant new funding for affordable and social housing.

1.5 Lowering Household Costs on Energy Bills and Renovations

  • We will introduce a home heating federal sales tax rebate to give your household budget a break;
  • We will introduce a permanent Eco-energy retrofit program to cut your home heating bills, reduce greenhouse gases and create jobs;
  • We will provide an inter-generational Home Retrofit Program to help families retrofit their homes to accommodate senior family members.

1.6 Cracking Down on Excessive Credit Card Rates and Bank Card Fees

  • We will ensure Canadians have access to credit cards with interest rates no higher than 5 per cent above prime;
  • We will give federal financial regulators new powers to identify and ban excessive interest rates on credit cards, payday loans, store cards and other forms of consumer credit;
  • We will oblige lenders to provide clearer, easy-to-understand disclosure of the real costs of credit cards, store cards and payday loans;
  • We will end unfair bank and credit card transaction charges for both consumers and small businesses.

1.7 Re-instating the Federal Minimum Wage

  • We will re-introduce the federal minimum wage law, which was scrapped by the Liberal Party of Canada in 1996, to set a national standard of earning for those who make the lowest wages in our workforce.

1.8 Helping Lift Children and Families out of Poverty

  • As a practical first step to eliminate child poverty, we will combine existing supports like the Child Tax Benefit to create a non-taxable Child Benefit and increase the support steadily by up to $700 per child over the next four years. This will be in addition to the current Universal Child Care Benefit;
  • We will table legislation that will set goals and targets for poverty reduction in consultation with the provincial, territorial, municipal and Aboriginal governments and with non-governmental organizations.

1.9 Ensuring your Employment Insurance Benefits are There When You Need Them

  • We will extend Employment Insurance stimulus measures until unemployment falls to pre-recession levels;
  • In practical steps and as finances permit, we will restore the integrity of the Employment Insurance program by amending the Employment Insurance Act to:
    • Eliminate the two-week waiting period;
    • Return the qualifying period to a minimum of 360 hours of work, regardless of the regional rate of unemployment;
    • Raise the rate of benefits to 60 per cent and basing benefits on the best 12 weeks in the qualifying period;
    • And improving the quality and monitoring of training and re-training.

    Abbotsford NDP Candidate David Murray with Ed Broadbent at Halifax convention 2009
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