Platform Analysis: Family Affordability
Gen Squeeze's analysis of the 2019 federal election family affordability platforms
This analysis is current as of October 21, 2019. You can find the complete Voter's Guide (covering housing, family, climate and public finance here




👆 These summary scores are produced from an analysis of 12 separate criteria, as described below. 

Table of Contents

 

Introduction


This election, Generation Squeeze is undertaking a rigorous assessment of federal party platforms and commitments on four key issues: housing affordability, climate change, family affordability, and generational fairness in public finance.

Our mission: to help voters better understand how far each party's platform goes towards actually solving big problems facing young people today.

Instead of simply listing party promises, our assessment attempts to make meaning of those promises, individually and in aggregate, by:

  • Publishing a comprehensive, evidence-based policy framework for addressing each issue, beginning with a clearly stated goal

  • Translating each framework into a set of key criteria

  • Assessing the degree to which each major party’s platform addresses the key criteria. The resulting analysis includes:

    • Criteria table and scoreswhere party platforms and commitments are given a score based on the extent to which they meet the stated criteria
    • Detailed commentary that explains how a score was assigned, as well as the assessed strengths and weaknesses of each commitment.

For the 2019 federal election, Gen Squeeze is focusing our analysis on the four major parties who began the race with at least one MP who was elected as a representative of that party, and who are running a national slate of candidates. This includes the Conservative Party, the Green Party, the Liberal Party, and the New Democratic Party. 

Gen Squeeze does not aim to tell you who to vote for, or to portray any party in an inherently favourable or unfavourable light.

Read more about our detailed methodology here.

Family Policy Framework


The following family affordability framework was developed based on research led at the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP), a research centre at the University of BC. HELP has served as an international knowledge hub about early child development, and its impact on life-long health. Portions of it also align with and draw from the work of e.g. the national Child Care Now movement and the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC and $10aDay plan, to which Gen Squeeze has contributed. Read more about our framework design here. 

Gen Squeeze Family Policy Framework:


Scores

We've translated our family policy framework into 12 key criteria. Parties are assigned up to one point for their platform's response to each, as outlined in the following table. The full scoring methodology is described below. 

Note for mobile/smartphone device users: The table below may not display properly on your smartphone screen. If the table appears to be cut-off, please return to this page on a desktop/laptop computer. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Criteria used to assess party platforms

Party scores

  CPC  GP  LPC  NDP 
CLEAR GOALS AND PRINCIPLES        

Demonstrates a commitment to the principle of “Choice, which means abandoning traditional divides between supporting families at home (e.g. by offering individual financial support in the form of benefit payments, tax breaks, etc.) and supporting families to go to work (e.g. through a universal system of affordable, quality child care) and instead giving families opportunities to more successfully balance both. 
0 1 1 1
Demonstrates a commitment to the principle of “Equality,which means encouraging a more equal sharing of caregiver responsibilities in 2+ parent households, including both the joys and burdens of caring for and paying for children; and to advance both gender equality, as well as equality between parents regardless of their gender identities. 0 0.5 1 0.5
Demonstrates a commitment to the principle of “Time with Family”, which means embracing family time and family supports as a cornerstone of Canadian society. 1 1 1 1
         
MAKE IT EASIER TO CHOOSE TO: STAY HOME WITH YOUR FAMILY        
Action to increase parental leave benefit amounts, particularly in ways that (a) increase the minimum benefit amount to help ensure parents do not have to raise their kids in poverty, and (b) increase the maximum benefit amount to help reduce the disincentive for higher-earning parents to take and share leave. For example, our own modelling suggests a minimum benefit of $500/week (close to today’s maximum) and a maximum calculated as 80% of the parent’s annual earnings up to $67,000 – for a maximum weekly benefit of $1,031 (nearly double the current maximum value).* 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5
Action to make parental leave benefits available to all households, meaning benefits should be available to ALL single- and dual-earner households regardless of parents’ attachment to the labour market (including the self-employed). In other words, leave benefits should no longer be based on Employment Insurance criteria.* 0 0.5 1 0.5
Action to promote shared parental leave, through policy that reserves time for moms and dads, with exceptions for single-parents and same-sex couples. The evidence suggests that "goldilocks-length" periods of reserved leave (not too short, not too long, just right) are required to shift away from problematic expert/helper dynamics that reinforce a harmful gender division of labour, and towards a truer sharing of the joys and burdens involved in caring for, and paying for, children. For example, we recommend six months should be reserved for moms, six months for dads, and the other six months shared between parents. If a parent doesn’t use the entire time reserved for them, the time can’t be allocated to the other parent. The evidence shows that leaves beyond a year for women exacerbate the gender division of labour at home and in employment, giving rise to gender pay gaps and reinforcing the glass ceiling. Plus, the evidence is clear that dads are happier when they get involved early on with their newborns, as are spouses and kids. If paired with the increase in benefit value we propose, all families would gain under this kind of system, even if one parent doesn’t use any of the time reserved for him/her.* 0 0 0.5 0
*The costs of these changes will require approximately another $10 billion in annual funding, e.g. phased in over the next decade, or ideally over the next mandate (4 years). This will require a minimum $1 billion increase in the annual allocation for parental leave in 2020, to be boosted by an additional billion each year on route to the $10 billion increase required.
       
         
MAKE IT EASIER TO CHOOSE TO: GO TO WORK        
Action to decrease child care service fees, with Gen Squeeze recommending a specific reduction in child care service fees to no more than $10/day (full-time) and $7/day (part-time) making it free for families earning less than $40,000/year – the low-income cut-off for a family of four in our big cities.* 0 1 0.5 1
Action to ensure pay equity and supports for care workers, including (a) training in child development and (b) on-site resources to ensure children spend their time in developmentally stimulating activities and play, including resources for children with extra support needs.* 0 1 0 1
Action to ensure high-quality child to caregiver ratios, with research showing these ratios need to be considerably lower in child care than in elementary schools.* 0 1 0 1
*The annual federal funding requirement for taking all three categories of action is estimated to be approximately $10 billion. In keeping with the Child Care Now advocacy position, Generation Squeeze will be looking for the next government to boost funding for child care by $1 billion each year over the next decade-plus to meet international benchmarks and reach the goal of affordable, high-quality, inclusive child care across Canada.        
         
MAKE IT EASIER TO CHOOSE TO: BALANCE BOTH        
Action to incentivize shorter full-time work-norms, for example by adapting overtime, Employment Insurance, and Canada Public Pension premiums paid by employers to make it less costly for businesses to use employees up to 35 hours per week, and more costly for hours thereafter. For example, with new incentives, employers could reduce the full-time work week by 3-5 hours on average for the half of men and third of women who currently work more than 40 hours/week. These employees would trade some after-tax wages (or future wage increases) in order to gain four more weeks of time per year. Changes to the Canada Child Benefit will ensure any reduction in employment hours does not reduce income in low-earning families. This may be especially important for some lone parent households. Employees who currently work part-time hours would gain opportunities for more employment. Within two parent homes, the total number of hours worked by parents may not change, but they may be redistributed more evenly between parents. 0 0 0 0
Action to incentivize flexible work hours, with an understanding that this area of policy is relatively undeveloped (i.e. we're very open to ideas)  0 0 0 0
Action to acknowledge longer work lives, because we are living 7-10 years longer than Canadians typically did when we first started our retirement income security systems. Gen Squeeze recommendations for greater work-life balance during our employment years should happen alongside policy conversations about the age at which we are eligible for old age security (OAS).  It may be appropriate to expect (many) younger Canadians today to work more years before we claim OAS, if our longer work-lives help pay for public programs required to facilitate greater work-life balance each year that we are in the labour market.  -0.5 0 -0.5 -0.5
         
TOTAL SCORE (out of a possible 12) 1.0 6.5 5 6
Weighted to a total score out of 10 (to more easily compare to other issue areas) 0.8 5.4 4.2 5.0


Scoring Methodology 


For each key criteria, parties receive a score that ranges from +1.0 to -1.0, assessed as follows:

Assessment Points
No discernible commitments 0
Commitments are somewhat capable of achieving the goal 0.5
Commitments are capable of achieving the goal 1.0
Commitments somewhat undermine progress towards the goal -0.5
Commitments undermine progress towards the goal -1.0


This five-point method was chosen because (a) it’s relatively simple, (b) it's capable of distinguishing between narrow/shallow responses and comprehensive responses to each criteria, especially the criteria that relate to broad policy categories, and (c) it allows us to subtract points where the evidence suggests a particular policy or group of policies put forward by a party is likely to exacerbate the problem/take us further away from the goal.

You can learn more by reading our detailed methodology. 

Detailed Commentary 


Here's a more comprehensive explanation of why Gen Squeeze assigned the scores we did, and the strengths and weaknesses of individual policy proposals.

For each section, we generally begin our commentary with the party we see as having the strongest platform on that criteria and then move to parties we see as having the weakest platform or the least to say.   

Criteria 1: Do the platforms demonstrate a commitment to the principle of “Choice”?


This means abandoning traditional divides between supporting families at home (e.g. by offering individual financial support in the form of benefit payments, tax breaks, etc.) and supporting families to go to work (e.g. through a universal system of affordable, quality child care) and instead giving families opportunities to more successfully balance both. 


Liberal party: The Liberal platform includes more money for parental leave and child care services, thereby increasing options for parents to choose between time with family and time in the labour market. We assign one point for this criterion.

NDP: The NDP platform (pp. 19-20) includes action to provide more options for parents to use parental leave, and the platform commits to spend more on child care services. As a result, we assign a point for the guiding principle of choice, because the platform aims to increase parental choices to be in the labour market and/or at home. 

Green party: In addition to proposing improvements to parental leave, the Green platform (p. 63) commits more funding for child care services, increasing choices for parents to balance time and home and time in employment. We assign a point for this criterion.

Conservative party: While the party includes promises to improve parental leave, the party is silent on child care so far. As a result, we cannot assign a point for the guiding principle of choice, because the party is not supporting parental choices to be in the labour market and/or at home.

Criteria 2: Do the platforms demonstrate a commitment to the principle of “Equality”?

 

This means encouraging a more equal sharing of caregiver responsibilities in 2+ parent households, including both the joys and burdens of caring for and paying for children; and to advance both gender equality, as well as equality between parents regardless of their gender identities. 


Liberal party: The Liberal government has implemented Gender-Based Analyses-Plus into all government budgeting practices, which reflects commitments to equality, and this commitment is echoed in its child care announcement, along with its platform more generally (p. 84).  Its child care proposals include funds to ensure early childhood educators (predominantly women) will make progress toward pay equity. Plus, the Liberal party proposes to build on its parental leave changes, which promote greater sharing of time at home between new moms and new dads, in order to disrupt the gender division of labour which gives rise to the gender earnings gap, glass ceiling for women, and occupational segregation of women into lower-paying jobs. For these reasons we assign the platform one point for this criterion.

NDP: The NDP receives a half point for promoting equality. The platform talks about the importance of promoting gender equality in the labour market by overcoming barriers to employment for women that are posed by the high cost of child care.  It also proposes (p. 19) pay equity-level wages for child care workers. However, the platform does not talk about designing its leave policy to encourage sharing of time at home between dads and moms. This is an important omission, because the leave period can be a very important moment for disrupting, or reinforcing, the gender division of caregiving, which in turn shapes the gender earnings gap, the glass ceiling, and occupational segregation for women in lower-paying jobs.

Green party: The Green platform (p. 62) reflects strong commitments to gender equality, identifying universal child care as being “fundamental for women’s equality – the ‘ramp to equality in the workplace for women." The funding commitment it makes is also sufficient to promote pay equity for child care workers (most of whom are women) so that we would increase salaries above parking lot attendant wages where they often sit today.  However, the Green platform is quiet about the need to encourage moms and dads to share parental leave. This omission is important, because it gives up on a key policy mechanism to disrupt the gender division of caregiving, which in turn contributes to the gender earnings gap, glass ceiling for women, and occupational segregation of many women into lower-paying jobs.  For this reason, we ascribe the party half a point for this criterion.

Conservative party: The party does not yet receive a point for commitment to the principle of equality. The party does not talk about designing its leave policy to encourage sharing of time at home between dads and moms.  The party does not talk about the importance of promoting gender equality in the labour market by overcoming barriers to employment for women that are posed by the high cost of child care. Nor does it propose pay equity-level wages for child care workers, so the party risks implying that it is acceptable for child care workers (predominantly women) often to be paid less than parking lot attendants.

Criteria 3: Do the platforms demonstrate a commitment to the principle of “Time with Family”?

 

This means embracing family time and family supports as a cornerstone of Canadian society.


Liberal party: The Liberal platform aims to support parents to afford more time at home, especially following the birth of a new baby. It therefore receives one point for this criterion.

NDP: The NDP platform (p. 20) demonstrates it values time with family by including improvements to parental leave to make parental time at home with a new baby more affordable. We assign it a point for this criterion.

Green Party: The Green platform (p. 63) values time with family, proposing to “strength[en] maternity/parental leave by making it more inclusive, more flexible and better paid”; and the party proposes a guaranteed livable income, which would also make unpaid family time more affordable (ibid, pp. 6 and 58). We assign a full point for this criterion.

Conservative party: The Conservative party clearly values time with family. This is reflected in the fact that one of its most concrete policy promises made in advance of the election, and again repeated early in the election, pertains to parental leave – specifically to increase the after-tax income of parents on leave. As a result, the party gets a full point for reflecting this guiding principle.

Criteria 4: Do the platforms include action to increase parental leave benefit amounts?

 

Particularly in ways that (a) increase the minimum benefit amount to help ensure parents do not have to raise their kids in poverty, and (b) increase the maximum benefit amount to help reduce the disincentive for higher-earning parents to take and share leave. For example, our own modelling suggests a minimum benefit of $500/week (close to today’s maximum) and a maximum calculated as 80% of the parent’s annual earnings up to $67,000 – for a maximum weekly benefit of $1,031 (nearly double the current maximum value).


Liberal party: The Liberal platform promises to increase income for parents on parental leave via two mechanisms. First, they will increase the maximum benefit available under the Canada Child Benefit by $1,000/year for children who are under the age of one. Second, Liberals promise to make maternity and parental leave benefits tax-exempt at source – increasing the after-tax value of leave benefits by a maximum of around $50/month, or $2,600 a year.  This promise is similar to a Conservative election promise, which provides a 15% tax credit on leave benefits to ensure they go untaxed. Whereas the Conservative plan would require you to wait to get the tax savings after you file your taxes, and potentially after your leave is over, the Liberal plan would leave you with more after-tax income right away while on leave. Together, the two changes that the Liberals propose add up to a maximum annual increase in benefits of around $3,600. Generation Squeeze proposes that the maximum benefit should increase by $470/week, or around $24,395/year, so the Liberal platform would advance incrementally toward this goal. We assign it half a point accordingly.

NDP: The platform (p. 20) refers to increasing the benefit amounts for parents/families who do not use the full 18 month period for which they may be eligible. It is not clear from the platform what the benefit value will be. However, the platform does commit to raise the value of all EI benefits from 55% of insurable earnings (currently, $53,100) to 60%. This will increase the maximum benefit value by around $50/week, or $2,600 per year. Generation Squeeze proposes that the maximum benefit should increase by $470/week, or around $24,395/year, so the NDP platform would advance incrementally toward this goal. We assign it half a point accordingly.

Conservative party: The Conservative party is proposing to shelter parental leave benefits from federal taxation by issuing a 15% non-refundable tax credit for income received from the leave program at a cost (p. 92) of $989 million. For parents claiming the maximum benefit, this will enrich the after-tax benefit value by about $50/week, or about $2,600/year. Generation Squeeze proposes that maximum benefits should be increased by nearly $500/week, or around $24,395/year. So the Conservative proposal would advance incrementally towards this goal. We assign a half point.

Note: the Conservative backgrounder claims that the maximum increase to after-tax parental leave benefits would be over $4,000. However, their calculation inaccurately presumes that a portion of parental leave benefits are not already sheltered from taxation by other tax credits, including the personal amount. The latter already shelters $11,809 of one’s leave benefits from taxation. Our analysis of this Conservative promise calculates the maximum after-tax savings after factoring in the amount for the existing personal tax credit.

Green Party: The Green platform (p. 63) only includes one line about improving maternity and parental leave benefits; and it doesn’t specify by how much the party would increase the income available to parents while on leave. From this perspective, the Green platform looks the weakest of the four major national parties when it comes to discussing parental leave.  

However, the Green position on parental leave should be interpreted in light of its commitment to a guaranteed livable income. The Green party implies that its proposal would set the guaranteed income based on the Market Basket Measure of low-income (ibid., p. 59), which currently defines a two-parent family with two children as living in poverty if household income falls in the range of around $37,000-$40,000. At these levels (which will vary by family size and location), the guaranteed livable income could increase minimum annual income for a parent on leave to be in line with the Gen Squeeze recommendation to improve the minimum leave benefit level so that parents never raise newborns in poverty. Specifically, the Green proposal would bring minimum income while on leave to approximate the maximum benefit rates currently available under EI, as Gen Squeeze proposes. Accordingly, we assign half a point for this criterion.

A guaranteed livable income would not change the maximum benefit available to parents. As a result, the Green plan would not reduce the risk that the current system incentivizes leave to be taken by lower-earning parents in two-parent families, because households reduce the overall financial loss when the current 55% EI replacement rate is applied to the lower-earner than the higher-earner. Given the ongoing gender earnings gap in Canada, the lower-earner remains more often a woman in two-parent households, and thus the current system contributes to reinforcing the gender division of caregiving. Generation Squeeze recommends that the replacement rate rise to 80% of insurable earnings up to approximately $67,000/year as a way to disrupt further the way the current leave system inclines higher-earners to resist taking leave in ways that perpetuate the gender division of domestic caregiving. The failure to engage with this theme is why the Green platform does not receive a full point on this criterion.  

Criteria 5: Do the platforms include action to make parental leave benefits available to all households?

 

Meaning benefits are made available to ALL single- and dual-earner households regardless of parents’ attachment to the labour market (including the self-employed). In other words, leave benefits should no longer be based on Employment Insurance criteria.


Liberal party: The Liberal platform promises to make major innovations in regards to this criterion. Starting in 2021, the Liberal party “will work to establish Guaranteed Paid Family Leave – an ambitious program that will make sure that parents who don’t qualify for paid leave through E.I. or who don’t get enough, because they’re between jobs, earn little, or haven’t worked enough hours, will receive a guaranteed income during the first year of their child’s life". While the platform is currently short on details, the proposal is to remove parental leave from the Employment Insurance system, as Generation Squeeze has recommended for the last decade. They will do so by “integrat[ing] E.I. maternity and parental benefits with the CCB, expand them, and ensure the legal protections for leave are not affected by this change” (ibid.). We give the platform a full point for this criterion.

Green party: The Green promise (p. 59) to implement a guaranteed livable income based on the market basket measure of low-income would transform the parental leave system, because access to income while caring for a newborn wouldn’t be dependent on eligibility for Employment Insurance (E.I.). Its guaranteed livable income would provide all parents with a minimum income during the first year of a baby’s life that is akin to today’s current maximum; but it makes no mention of increasing maximum parental leave benefits, as Generation Squeeze recommends. For these reasons, we assign the party half a point for this criterion, because the full point would be awarded to a platform that extends eligibility for all households to increases in both the minimum and maximum benefit levels while on leave.

NDP: The NDP platform (p. 20) claims it will “allow self-employed workers to opt-into parental benefits at any time before taking the leave”. Recently, the Liberal government made it possible for self-employed workers to claim leave benefits if they contributed EI premiums for at least the 12 months before they go on leave. While it is unclear how this NDP promise will affect the benefits for which the self-employed workers are eligible, this change would be a step toward removing the maternity and parental leave system from E.I., in keeping with the Gen Squeeze recommendation. For this reason, we assign the NDP half a point for this criterion.

Conservative party: The Conservative's announcements on this issue makes no mention of the need to address the problem that many parents of newborns don’t qualify for E.I. maternity or parental leave benefits because of their self-employment status, or weaker attachment to the labour market. We assign the party no point for this criterion.

Criteria 6: Do the platforms include action to promote shared leave?

 

Through policy that reserves time for moms and dads, with exceptions for single-parents and same-sex couples. The evidence suggests that "goldilocks-length" periods of reserved leave (not too short, not too long, just right) are required to shift away from problematic expert/helper dynamics that reinforce a harmful gender division of labour, and towards a truer sharing of the joys and burdens involved in caring for, and paying for, children. For example, we recommend six months should be reserved for moms, six months for dads, and the other six months shared between parents. If a parent doesn’t use the entire time reserved for them, the time can’t be allocated to the other parent. The evidence shows that leaves beyond a year for women exacerbate the gender division of labour at home and in employment, giving rise to gender pay gaps and reinforcing the glass ceiling. Plus, the evidence is clear that dads are happier when they get involved early on with their newborns, as are spouses and kids. If paired with the increase in benefit value we propose, all families would gain under this kind of system, even if one parent doesn’t use any of the time reserved for him/her.*


Liberal party:  The Liberal government just implemented (p. 223) some “use it or lose it” leave time for a second parent – five to eight weeks, depending on whether the family is claiming benefits over a year period, or 18 months. Since Generation Squeeze recommends that six months be saved for each parent, and six be distributed between parents as families choose, we allocate half a point to the Liberal platform for this criterion.

Conservative party: The Conservative party does not yet propose revisions to leave policy that would reserve benefits specifically for each parent in a two-parent household, with exceptions for single-parents. As a result, it is not yet receiving a point for promoting parents to share leave. This is a problem, because evidence shows that leaves longer than one year exacerbate gender divisions of labour at home and in the labour market, reinforcing gender pay gaps and the glass ceiling. Plus, the evidence shows that dads are happier when they get involved early on with their newborns, as are their spouses and children (See Kershaw, 2005, Carefair).

NDP: The NDP platform is silent about the value of promoting shared leave between parents in two-parent families. As such, it overlooks key opportunities to promote gender equality in the division of labour between breadwinning and caregiving. The platform receives no point for this criterion. This is a problem, because evidence shows that leaves longer than one year exacerbate gender divisions of labour at home and in the labour market, reinforcing gender pay gaps and the glass ceiling. Plus, the evidence shows that dads are happier when they get involved early on with their newborns, as are their spouses and children (See Kershaw, 2005, Carefair).

Green Party: The Green platform is silent about the value of promoting shared leave between parents in two-parent families. As such, it overlooks key opportunities to promote gender equality in the division of labour between breadwinning and caregiving. The platform receives no point for this criterion. This is a problem, because evidence shows that leaves longer than one year exacerbate gender divisions of labour at home and in the labour market, reinforcing gender pay gaps and the glass ceiling. Plus, the evidence shows that dads are happier when they get involved early on with their newborns, as are their spouses and children (See Kershaw, 2005, Carefair).

Criteria 7: Do the platforms include action to decrease child care service fees?

 

With Gen Squeeze recommending a specific reduction in child care service fees to no more than $10/day (full-time) and $7/day (part-time) making it free for families earning less than $40,000/year – the low-income cut-off for a family of four in our big cities.


Green Party: A review of party promises on child care during the 2019 election reveals that the Green Party platform (p. 63) commits to grow public funding for child care so that it will eventually reach evidence-based international benchmarks for high quality, affordability and accessibility – 1% of GDP, or approximately another $10 billion/year. The Green platform commits to allocate an additional $1 billion in annual spending starting immediately in 2020, and grow that investment every year thereafter by $1 billion until we reach the international benchmark. This budget allocation is recommended by child care experts in Canada (see Child Care Now). This funding level is sufficient to bring down child care fees to around $10 a day (with no fees for low income families). The party receives a full point for this criterion.

NDP: The NDP platform promises to "establish a universal child care and early learning system by 2030."  The NDP platform commits to allocate an additional $1 billion in annual spending starting immediately in 2020, and grow that investment every year thereafter by $1 billion until we reach the international benchmark of 1% of GDP, or approximately another $10 billion/year. This budget allocation is recommended by child care experts in Canada (see Child Care Now). This funding level is sufficient to bring down child care fees to around $10 a day (with no fees for low income families). The party receives a full point for this criterion.

Liberal Party: The Liberal platform promises to invest $535 million more per year in child care. This investment is significantly smaller than the child care promises made in both the Green platform and the NDP platform. The Liberal platform would add to its government’s proposed allocation in previous budgets, which announced $7.5 billion for child care over 11 years – or approximately $680 million per year. The resulting cumulative $1.215 billion Liberal annual investment would be roughly 12% of the additional $10 billion expenditure required for a strong child care system, as identified by research. While any additional funds for child care services are welcome, the Liberal investment will leave child care difficult to find, and expensive for most families (outside of Quebec). With this information, it would be better to allocate even less than half a point for this criterion to the Liberal party. However, our scoring system is not that refined, and the modest incremental investment merits half a point according to our evaluation framework.

Conservative party: The Conservative platform is silent about child care services.  The Conservatives therefore stand out from the other parties for not proposing to invest additional funding in child care services.  There is also reason to judge that existing federal funds for child care may be at risk, because the Conservative platform (p. 94) proposes to reduce current federal transfers for infrastructure from which Ottawa draws when budgeting for the existing modest transfers to provinces for child care services.

Some might interpret the tax credits that the Conservative party would provide for fitness and arts activities as providing help for child care costs, perhaps especially in summer months. The maximum savings offered by these tax credits is $150/year for fitness and $75/year for arts. Since child care typically costs more than university tuition, these modest annual savings do not represent meaningful public investments to address child care affordability barriers. For these reasons we assign no point for this criterion.

Criteria 8: Do the platforms include action to ensure pay equity and supports for care workers?

 

Including (a) training in child development and (b) on-site resources to ensure children spend their time in developmentally stimulating activities and play, including resources for children with extra support needs.


Green party:  By proposing (p. 63) to grow public investment in child care to 1% of GDP, the Green party is so far the only party to promise funds for child care services at a level that can raise child care workers to pay-equity-level wages. It receives a full point for this criterion.

NDP: The NDP platform (p. 19) promises “a fair wage” for licensed child care providers. By committing to boost investment in child care services by $1 billion/year until the NDP achieves the goal of a universal child care program by 2030, the party commits to phase in an annual investment that is required to make child care fees affordable and pay child care workers pay-equity-level wages. We assign the platform a full point for this criterion.

Liberal party: The Liberal platform acknowledges that “early childhood educators are often overworked, underpaid, and without enough support." To this end, it promises to “inves[t] at least $25 million per year to help cover the costs for early childhood educators seeking further training, and lower tuition costs for people getting their early childhood educator degree” (ibid.). However, since the party platform allocates roughly 12% of the additional funding required to make a strong child care system (see previous criterion), the Liberal plan implicitly assumes many child care workers will continue to subsidize parent fees by working for wages akin to those paid parking lot attendants. Accordingly, we assign no point for this criterion.

Conservative party: So far the party has made no promises about child care. We assign no point for this criterion at this time.

Criteria 9: Do the platforms include action to ensure high-quality child to caregiver ratios?

 

With research showing these ratios need to be considerably lower in child care than in elementary schools.


Green party: By proposing (p. 63) to grow public investment in child care to 1% of GDP, the Green party promises funds for child care services at a level that can deliver high-quality child:caregiver ratios. It therefore receives a full point for this criterion. However, it must also be noted that the importance of child:caregiver ratios did not receive a specific mention in the Green platform.

NDP: The NDP platform (p. 19) promises to invest in “quality” child care services. By committing to boost investment in child care services by $1 billion/year until the NDP achieves the goal of a universal child care program by 2030, the party commits to phase in an annual investment that is required to deliver high-quality child:caregiver ratios.  We assign the platform a full point for this criterion, although it must be noted that the NDP platform does not yet mention the importance of child:caregiver ratios to deliver high quality care. 

Liberal party: The Liberal platform is silent (so far) on the staff:child ratios required for high quality care, along with the public funding commitment required to achieve high-quality ratios. We therefore assign no point for this criterion.

Conservative party: So far the party has made no promises about child care. We assign no point for this criterion at this time.

 

Criteria 10: Do the platforms include action to incentivize shorter full-time work-norms?


For example by adapting overtime, Employment Insurance, and Canada Public Pension premiums paid by employers to make it less costly for businesses to use employees up to 35 hours per week, and more costly for hours thereafter. For example, with new incentives, employers could reduce the full-time work week by 3-5 hours on average for the half of men and third of women who currently work more than 40 hours/week. These employees would trade some after-tax wages (or future wage increases) in order to gain four more weeks of time per year. Changes to the Canada Child Benefit will ensure any reduction in employment hours does not reduce income in low-earning families. This may be especially important for some lone parent households. Employees who currently work part-time hours would gain opportunities for more employment. Within two parent homes, the total number of hours worked by parents may not change, but they may be redistributed more evenly between parents.


Liberal party: While the federal Liberals adopted Generation Squeeze language about “flex time” in the 2015 election, it didn’t embrace the core idea behind our recommendation  -- incentivize shorter full-time work norms (closer to 35 hours per week, instead of 40+). So far, no additional commitment has been made in the 2019 election, even though the party has announced changes to retirement income policy, which is likely to impact employer premiums. The platform receives no point for this criterion. 

Conservative party: The party has not yet provided any platform information relevant to this criterion. No point is allocated so far.

NDP: While the NDP platform (pp. 20 and 64) includes sections on EI and retirement income, it does not mention changing the way the federal government collects premiums in order to incentivize employers to organize their HR strategies around shorter norms of full-time work (i.e. closer to 35 than 40/week), and/or to discourage long hours (40+). The platform receives no point for this criterion.

Green party: Although the Green platform (p. 28) refers to reforming Employment Insurance and Canada Public Pension premiums (ibid., p. 64), the platform does not discuss opportunities to incentivize employers to organize their HR strategies around shorter norms of full-time work (i.e. closer to 35 than 40/week), and/or to discourage long hours (40+). The platform receives no point for this criterion.

Criteria 11: Do the platforms include action to incentivize flexible work hours?


With an understanding that this area of policy is relatively undeveloped (i.e. we're very open to ideas).


Conservative party: The party has not yet provided any platform information relevant to this criterion.  No point is allocated so far.

Liberal party: In their last term, the Liberals made it possible for all federal workers to request flexible work arrangements, and made parental leave options more flexible for parents. So far it has not proposed other policy levers to support employers to offer more flexibility work arrangements. It receives no point for this criterion.

NDP: The NDP platform includes no information about this theme. So far, it receives no point for this criterion.

Green party: The Green platform includes no information about this theme. So far, it receives no point for this criterion.

Criteria 12: Do the platforms include action to acknowledge longer work lives?


Because we are living 7-10 years longer than Canadians typically did when we first started our retirement income security systems. Gen Squeeze recommendations for greater work-life balance during our employment years should happen alongside policy conversations about the age at which we are eligible for old age security (OAS). It may be appropriate to expect (many) younger Canadians today to work more work years before we claim OAS, if our longer work-lives help pay for public programs required to facilitate greater work-life balance each year that we are in the labour market. 


Conservative party: The Conservative platform in 2019 (p. 13) rejects previous Conservative government policy to extend the age of eligibility for Old Age Security to 67, from age 65.  We deduct half a point for this criterion. 

It is worth noting that the previous Conservative government under Prime Minister Harper was courageous in adjusting the age of eligibility for old age security from age 65 to age 67. The Conservatives made this change so that it did not affect anyone in the Baby Boomer generation, because they are relatively close to retirement with less time to adapt. While this means the Conservatives imposed the change entirely on Gen X, Millennials and others who follow in our footsteps, the change was part of a reasonable adaptation for public finance in response to longer average life-expectancy. While no one wants to think about “working more”, the reality is that Canadians are living 7-10 years longer on average than when Canada first introduced the old age security system. Given that we are living longer, it is appropriate to consider that today’s younger Canadians may need to work more years, IF governments simultaneously adapt public policy to support greater work-life balance each year we are in the labour market though the kinds of family policies identified above as part of our New Deal for Families.

NDP: The NDP platform (p. 65) explicitly critiques previous Conservative government policy to increase the age of eligibility for old age security for younger Canadians. As a result, we deduct half a point for this criterion. While no one wants to think about “working more”, the reality is that Canadians are living 7-10 years longer on average than when Canada first introduced the old age security system. Given that we are living longer, it is appropriate to consider that today’s younger Canadians may need to work more years, IF governments simultaneously adapt public policy to support greater work-life balance each year we are in the labour market though the kinds of family policies identified above as part of our New Deal for Families.

Liberal party: The Liberal government reversed the previous Conservative government’s decision to increase the age of eligibility for old age security for younger Canadians – a decision which it affirms in its 2019 election platform. As a result, we deduct half a point for this criterion. While no one wants to think about “working more”, the reality is that Canadians are living 7-10 years longer on average than we were when Canada first introduced the old age security system. Given that we are living longer, it is appropriate to consider that today’s younger Canadians may need to work more years, IF governments simultaneously adapt public policy to support greater work-life balance each year we are in the labour market.

Green party: The Green platform includes insufficient information about this theme. We assign no point for this criterion.

 

Family Policy Analysis
Platform Analysis: Family Affordability
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Voters Guide 2019
fedElxn'19 Voter's Guide