Tax credits or cash? Federal parties spar over what’s best for parental benefits

Liberals promise to expand existing benefit, while Conservatives are promising a tax credit

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau makes a campaign stop at a daycare in St. John’s, N.L., on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Is it better to be paid in credit or with cash?

That’s a question Liberals and Conservatives tusseled over Tuesday in the ongoing federal election competition for the votes of middle-class families.

The Liberals promised an expansion to existing child and parent benefit programs, including a pledge to make maternity and parental benefits tax-free, effectively one-upping their Conservative rivals who’d made a similar pitch last week.

For the Liberals, the promise came in the form of a commitment to removing the taxes from the benefits.

“You’ll get every dollar right when you need it, since no taxes will be taken off the EI cheque when new parents receive it,” Trudeau said at an event in St. John’s, N.L.

The Conservatives, who have also claimed to be making the benefits tax-free, are promising a tax credit. So parents would still see their benefits taxed by the government, but they’d get a tax credit in return.

The duelling pitches underscore the differing ideological approaches taken by the parties on how best to woo voters.

Since the campaign began last Wednesday, the Conservatives have focused nearly exclusively on promising a wide array of tax cuts.

By contrast, the Liberals have focused on increased program spending and, in the case of benefits for families, straight cash — both in taking the taxes off the benefits, and via the promise Tuesday to expand the existing Canada Child Benefit to give more money to parents with children under the age of one.

READ MORE: Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for misleading meme

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer argued the Liberals were in fact adopting a Tory tone by expanding the CCB.

The CCB sends parents a monthly cheque if their income is below a certain threshold. Under the previous Conservative government, there had been a similar program that saw all families — regardless of income — also receive a monthly payment.

“That is a Conservative principle, knowing that moms and dads make choices for their kids better than bureaucrats in Ottawa,” Scheer said at an event in Winnipeg.

He was there to promote his latest policy idea, a commitment to increase the amount of money the federal government puts into Registered Education Savings Plans. Like several others so far this campaign, it’s an updated version of something the Conservatives promised in 2015.

But behind the scenes, Scheer’s team was working furiously to explain why their parental benefit package was better then Trudeau’s. They’d already come under criticism for calling it “tax free,” as the benefits actually remain taxed.

In a background document circulated to reporters, they argued that with a 15 per cent tax credit applied across the board, people would benefit from the program equally, and in some cases see their tax savings be higher than the amount of money that’s currently deducted for taxes on the benefit cheques.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pitt Meadows ball hockey goalie gets call up to Team Canada

Matteo Petrelli will mind net for U20 team at world championships in Switzerland this summer

Maple Ridge’s Brandon Yip to play in KHL all star game in Moscow Sunday morning

Yip currently captains the Kunlun Red Stars who are based in Beijing

The value of a prison education

Kevin Heinze teaches continuing education at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre in Maple Ridge.

Along the Fraser: RIP Parker (1991-2019)

The Canadian Liver Foundation raises funds by recycling or scrapping old vehicles.

Letter: Allen Way rail crossing proposed in 1980

Pitt Meadows mayor at time wanted it at north Bonson.

BC Green Party leader visits northern B.C. pipeline protest site

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada, British Columbia and First Nations

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

VIDEO: Highway 1 left looking like winter war zone with dozens of stranded vehicles

Tow-truck driver says 30 vehicles still dot snowy landscape, including one rolled-over dairy truck

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Canada Post driver in hospital after ice smashes windshield at Massey Tunnel

Incident happened on Richmond side of the Massey Tunnel

Most Read