Federal election candidates are offering different perspectives on how to help the Canadian economy heal from the ravages of the pandemic.
The Canadian economy unexpectedly contracted by 1.1 per cent in the second quarter. Although businesses in Ontario no longer face lockdowns, the fourth wave of COVID-19 is adding to concerns about future economic recovery.
Each of the parties is putting forward a vision for the future of the economy. Here is where they, and Newmarket-Aurora local candidates, stand:
The Liberal Party points to its record in its platform and said 92 per cent of the jobs lost in the pandemic have been recovered. It also points to support programs it implemented to help support the public during the pandemic crisis.
It emphasizes a $10-per-day child care plan, with deals already brokered with some provinces like Quebec, as a key economic recovery position.
“That creates jobs and allows parents to get back to work. The business case is there,” Newmarket-Aurora candidate Tony Van Bynen said. “Every dollar that’s invested in affordable child care generates between a dollar and a half to $2 of economic growth.”
The Liberals also plan to introduce a new EI benefit for self-employed Canadians. They also plan to provide the tourism sector with wage and rent support of up to 75 per cent this winter.
Van Bynen said the country still needs to get through the pandemic to realize recovery, and worker supports need to remain in place.
As far as taxation, the Liberals are promising to raise taxes on banks and insurance companies making more than $1 billion per year.
“They made huge windfalls in the pandemic,” Van Bynen said of banks. “It’s important they contribute to recovery in a very significant way.”
They would also create a minimum tax rule so top earners cannot avoid paying anything through deductions and credits, implement a tax on luxury vehicles, and tax non-residents, non-Canadians holding onto vacant land and residential property.
Van Bynen said the government can deal with the debt levels it is currently experiencing, which will get better as the economy recovers. He said the government needs to achieve balance, but not just in the books.
"Making sure no one is left behind, and at the same time, we are careful about how we spend our money. So as we go forward, the burden the next generation will be facing is manageable,” he said.
The Conservative Party is planning to help the economy with a push for vaccination rates. They state they will get them to 90 per cent within two months of taking office, through federal funding for paid time off for vaccination and free clinic transportation.
The Conservatives are planning four major initiatives to spur job creation. These include paying up to 50 per cent of salary for new hires for six months following the end of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, a five per cent investment tax credit for any capital investment made in 2022 and 2023, a 25 per cent tax credit for money invested in small businesses in amounts up to $100,000, and loans of up to $200,000 for small and medium businesses in hospitality, retail, and tourism, with up to 25 per cent forgiven.
“Every part of the Conservative platform is future-focused and every platform is not a one-size-fits-all to get Canadians through today. Conservatives believe that Canadians value choice about every element of their lives, including about their work, and want to start planning for the future,” the Newmarket-Aurora candidate Harold Kim campaign said.
As far as taxation, the Conservative platform states it will go harder after large corporations have slipped through the Liberals' high-end-worth compliance program. The party promises to have foreign tax companies pay a digital services tax representing three per cent of their gross Canadian revenue.
However, Kim’s campaign said low tax rates attract business.
“Canada is one of the highest-taxed jurisdictions in the world, which is often why businesses go south and take their company’s profits and talent with them,” the campaign said. “Part of the incentive to attract investment in Canada will be to provide favourable tax rates for products made in Canada."
The Conservatives plan to eliminate the deficit in a decade by repairing the economy and promise to wind down emergency spending responsibility. The platform references finding more efficiencies through methods like moving more of the federal public service to remote work.
“Conservatives are confident that through a comprehensive program that addresses every element of Canadian life, Canada’s economy will recover and flourish, and the budget will be balanced in ten years,” the campaign said.
The NDP promises to improve EI by ensuring no one relying on it or special benefits receives less than $2,000 per month. The party would also expand eligibility to include people quitting work for school, child care, or to protect the health of immunocompromised family members.
The NDP is also promising a guaranteed livable income for all Canadians, a universal $10 per day child care, as well as introducing a federal minimum wage starting at $15, rising to $20.
Newmarket-Aurora NDP candidate Yvonne Kelly said their vision for kickstarting the economy is the same as how they wanted to manage the pre-pandemic economy, and the pandemic highlighted disparities.
“When you invest in people, especially those who are really just trying to get by and those who are doing OK but could use a little more support, that’s money that goes into the community. It boosts growth,” Kelly said.
The NDP is promising new taxation measures, including a COVID-19 excess profit tax of 15 per cent on large corporations, boosting the top marginal tax rate by two per cent, and a new wealth tax for the richest multi-millionaires. It would also increase the corporate tax rate by three per cent to 2010 levels and seek to close loopholes.
“The problem is having the courage to enforce and strengthen enforcement, to prevent tax evasion and close those loopholes,” Kelly said. “Those are the things that disable us in terms of being able to invest in people right across the country.”
The NDP indicates it would manage debt and deficit responsibility, moving to balanced books when prudent.
“When the time is right, we can start to pull back a bit,” Kelly said. “We need to invest.”
The Green Party promises to push to a decarbonized economy, replacing fossil-fuel sector jobs with green sector jobs through wage insurance, training and early retirement plans. It also proposes a guaranteed livable income and universal child care,
“It would be available with few or no restrictions and be enough to protect Canadians from financial catastrophes,” the party said of a guaranteed income. “It will also be simpler and therefore less expensive to administrate.
Like other parties, the Greens promise to close tax loopholes. The Green Party also plans to increase the corporate tax rate from 15 to 21 per cent, a five per cent surtax on commercial bank profits, a 0.5 per cent financial transaction tax in the finance sector, and a one per cent tax on family wealth above $20 million.
The party said corporations are holding onto money in their bank accounts instead of investing it.
“This dead money needs to be mobilized for the transition to a green, renewable economy,” the party platform states.
People’s Party of Canada
The party is promising to phase out all COVID spending programs and new spending programs announced by the Trudeau government, in a bid to eliminate the deficit by the end of its first mandate. It also promises to end corporate welfare, foreign development aid, and the CBC to help achieve that.
“Debts and deficits are nothing more than deferred taxes on our children and grandchildren,” the party states. “Instead of buying votes with borrowed money, a responsible government should aggressively cut spending.”
The party platform also promises to reduce the corporate income tax from 15 per cent to 10 per cent over a single term. The party also plans to eliminate the capital gains tax and reduce income taxes when the deficit is eliminated. This is paired with the ending corporate subsidies.
“Ottawa should stop taking billions of dollars from the private sector and redistributing them through subsidies,” the party said. “It should lower taxes for all businesses and encourage saving and investment to make our economy more productive.”
Dorian Baxter, Independent
Newmarket-Aurora independent candidate Dorian Baxter said a key to economic recovery is to eliminating vaccine mandates and taking care of minimum wage increases.
“I do think there has to be a very clear change in the manner in which small businesses are being taxed,” Baxter said. “We have to be much more realistic with the minimum wage. We can’t keep expanding that without understanding the mechanics of how that works for the small businesses.”
He further said Canadian politicians are making far too much. He said he would personally donate half his salary within the riding.
As for taxation, Baxter said he wants it as low as possible, comparing himself to American Republicans.
“For me, the less we can tax people, the more we can inject into the economy the kind of energy that we need,” Baxter said.
He said the government can improve the economy by taking advantage of Canada as a bilingual nation, with access to English and French-speaking nations as trading partners.
“We have the opportunity of literally seizing the leadership of the world from, sadly, a failing United States,” he said. “The economy can be absolutely energized on a level that’s never been imagined.”