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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Pattie Lovett-Reid: Conservatives are first out of the gate with pocketbook politics

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TORONTO — The newly announced September 20 federal election is just around the corner and as platform promises are unveiled many Canadians will be asking themselves, “What’s in for me?”

This election should prove to be very interesting, from a financial perspective. Witnessed by ballooning bank accounts at one end of the spectrum and struggling entrepreneurs at the other, the K-shaped economic recovery is clearly evident. The rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer and this could ultimately be the focal point that defines the importance of pocketbook politics in this election.

Because some have benefited and others have not, how these issues are addressed on the campaign trail could swing how households vote.

Nothing impacts pocketbook politics more than a paycheque.

Out of the gate, the Conservatives laid out their plan with a primary focus on job creation. Securing jobs with a promise to recover one million or more in a year is something to pay attention to. The party also promises to pay 50% of salaries for new hires for six months after the federal wage subsidy ends. And hardest-hit sectors including retail, tourism and hospitality are promised up to $200,000 in loan relief that will be partially forgiven, and there’s encouragement to invest in small business by way of a 25% tax credit on amounts of up to $100,000 over the next two years.

These are big picture platform issues, but let’s get more granular.

Securing full-time employment has been a challenge for gig economy workers including independent contractors, contract and on-call temporary workers. This cohort often falls through the cracks, due to insufficient insurable hours for government support or financial safety nets. The Conservatives want to change that by making gig economy companies pay contributions, equivalent to CPP and EI premiums, into a new portable Employee Savings Account every time they pay their workers. The money will grow tax-free and can be withdrawn by the worker when needed.

Women have been hit hardest during the pandemic and childcare costs for families remain a financial burden. The Conservatives plan to convert the childcare expense deduction into a refundable tax credit covering up to 75% of the cost of child care for lower income families. While all families with income under $150,000 will be better off, the biggest benefit will go to those families with less than $50,000. Bottom line here for families is: more disposable income to raise children, and bringing women back into the workforce by making childcare more affordable. For some families, that’s a pocketbook game-changer.

The Liberals in the coming days will be sharing more details of their key platform issues focused on childcare and job creation, but have already outlined their desire to help struggling sectors such as live theatre and performing arts and support job creation by continuing the Canada Recovery Hiring Program through March 31, 2022.

The NDP pre-empted the election announcement with a different approach that focused on the super-rich with a promise of a 1% wealth tax for households with more than $10 million in assets and a plan to impose an additional 15% levy on corporations that received pandemic subsidies at the same time they profited during the pandemic.

Clearly this is just the start and it is early days.

All parties face the challenge of grabbing your attention while they try to hit where it matters most to you and your family – money in your pocket.

It is really too soon to say where you will get the biggest bang for your voting buck with only the Conservatives clearly laying out their plan in a 160-page document. However, it is fair to say we will be watching and listening closely.

Kitchen table politics is about to get interesting.

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