People have been asking us how the Green Party stacks up in terms of its commitments to families. This is what we know so far based on what's available online.
The Green party has now made public commitments regarding all 3 parts of Gen Squeeze's New Deal for Families.
UPDATE (Sept 28, 2015): First, the Green party will reallocate the existing $6.7 billion universal child care benefit to help pay for a high quality child care system that reduces fees for parents – something moving toward the Gen Squeeze $10/day recommendation that is part of our New Deal for Families. Plus, the Greens will allocate another billion dollars on top of this reallocation to bring their total spending to close $7.7 billion/year. This means that Greens lead the other parties in terms of their financial commitment to child care services. For instance, the NDP will take 8 years before they allocate $5 billion to child care. The Liberals still haven’t made their child care announcement. The Conservatives prefer not to invest directly in child care services, promising instead their universal child care benefit.
Unlike the NDP plan which gives a clear timeline for its investments, there is a lack of clarity in the Green party material about when, or how fast, the Greens will reallocate the $6.7 billion. The Greens imply this depends on the pace at which they secure agreements with the provinces to use the new funds to expand child care spaces, bring down their fees, and improve their quality.
Second, citing the Gen Squeeze New Deal for Families, the Green party would lengthen the parental leave period from 12 months per household to 18 months so dads and moms share time with a newborn. As part of this change, the Greens would improve the affordability of time at home with a newborn for self-employed parents. The Liberals have proposed something that sounds similar, but have allocated insufficient money to make more parental time at home with an infant affordable for most families. At present, the Greens haven’t provided a cost estimate for their parental leave commitment, making it hard to tell how closely it resembles the Gen Squeeze recommendation. This also means it’s hard to know whether the Green position on leave is stronger than the Liberals. The NDP and Conservatives have been silent about revising parental leave up to this stage in the campaign.
Third, and again specifically citing Gen Squeeze, the Greens propose adapting employment insurance premiums and overtime policy to make it less expensive for employers to organize their HR around full-time hours closer to 35 per week, rather than 40+. Such measures would create greater opportunities for employees to gain a bit more time outside the labour market for balancing family and other goals. This is important because our employment norms were built in an era when we presumed one person would work full-time and another would stay home full-time. Now most couples have two people working, and there are more lone parents. The Greens are proposing to modernize our employment norms in ways that could improve the bottom line for employers and workers. For instance, the Green proposal could free a two earner household as much as 10 hours per week (what would you do with an extra day per week?). In combination with less expensive child care and more generous parental leave, this could be affordable for parents, and those thinking about becoming parents.
While the Liberals have also made commitments to Flex Time in keeping with the Gen Squeeze New Deal for Families, their promises so far do not include measures to incentivize employers shifting toward slightly shorter full-time norms. So it is less clear what the Liberal proposal would achieve compared to the Green position. Thus far, the NDP and Conservative parties have not made any statements regarding Flex Time.
Stay tuned. We’ll keep updating platform analyses as Parties release information. We’ve been focusing on family policy a lot up to this point, because the parties have been saying more about this issue. If/when parties begin to talk more about housing policy, education, saving for retirement, living sustainably, etc., we’ll report on that too.
Your non-partisan, evidence-based Gen Squeeze policy team.