Party Leaders Trot Out Promises as Election Nears

April 21, 2011 Updated: April 21, 2011

Conservatives: Seniors Income Supplement and Research

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Wednesday that his government, if re-elected, would carry on with its budget commitment to strengthen its support for seniors.

The Conservatives plan to increase the monthly Guaranteed Income Supplement for low-income Canadian seniors and provide additional benefits of up to $600 for each single senior and $840 for couples.

Canada’s seniors helped build this country for future generations,” Harper said in a release. “Our seniors deserve a secure and dignified retirement that recognizes the contributions they have made.”

Harper noted that the Conservatives’ plan includes an additional investment of $300 million per year in seniors is affordable without raising taxes.

The plan also features creating jobs through training, trade, and low taxes; eliminating the deficit by 2014-2015 by controlling spending and cutting waste; making the streets safer through new laws to protect elderly and children; cracking down on human smuggling; strengthening the Canadian Armed Forces; and developing Canada’s North.

Harper said his government would invest $100 million to establish the Canada Brain Research Fund to support brain research and neuroscience, as one in three Canadians are affected by brain disorders.

The Conservatives are also dedicated to improving the process to speed up the deportation of serious foreign criminals and terrorists from Canada, as well as working with its private sector and territorial partners to connect the nation’s highway system from coast to coast to coast, as a year-round highway link to the Arctic coastline will “support economic development in the territories and strengthen Canada’s sovereignty.”

Liberals: Health Care Reform and Social Programs

In the last two weeks before the May 2 general election, the Liberals are striving hard to win votes from families.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, a believer of universal public health care, said that if the Liberals secure the government, they would convene a First Ministers meeting within 60 days after being sworn in to start new funding arrangements and system-wide health care reforms.

“Health care must never depend on your wallet or your postal code,” Ignatieff tweeted on Monday. “We’re committed to health for Northern and rural communities.”

Ignatieff said he is committed to a sustained 6 percent annual increase in health care funding as a “foundation for crucial reforms,” with the two core priorities being home care (reducing hospital costs and increasing health care quality) and drug coverage (increasing accessibility and reducing the cost of prescription drugs).

Health care has been the top issue in polls since the election campaign began in the end of March. The Liberals are questioning whether a re-elected Conservative government would have enough money to pay for projected Medicare funding increases.

In addition to health care reforms, the Liberals are promising a “Family Pack” of five programs to help Canadians without raising taxes. They include a “Learning Passport” of $4,000 – $6,000 for college or university students; a fund for early childhood education; tax credits and other support for Canadians caring for elderly or ill family members (the Conservatives promised similar tax credits); stronger public pensions; and a green renovation tax credit.

New Democrats: Farmers and Consumers

New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton announced his support for farmers on Wednesday while visiting a farm in Essex, Ontario.

The NDP strategy will give enhanced supports for local producers and ensure Canada’s supply of food is healthy and safe via a food safety component. The plan also includes help for young farmers through skill training and mentorship programs.

“My plan will reverse years of neglect, fix income stability programs, and give farmers the support they need to thrive and grow,” Layton said in a release.

In addition to supporting farmers, Layton advocates for investment in clean energy sources to replace the Conservatives’ multi-billion-dollar fossil fuel subsidies.

Layton’s campaign also supports training and hiring more doctors and nurses; doubling public pensions and offering Canadians more choice over their retirement savings; give businesses a 2 percent point tax cut; cap credit card feeds; give consumers control over cell phone bills; and abolishing the Harmonized Sales Tax, a key political issue in British Columbia.