On Friday, the Conservative Party outlined their spending plans in a 103-page document, which included repealing the Carbon Tax set out by the Liberal government, pursuing universal basic tax cuts, removing GST from home energy bills, and a slew of additional cuts to government spending.
The Party released the document with only 10 days to go until the election and was comprised primarily of various policy plans Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer had promised throughout his campaign.
Rather than promising additional spending, services, and subsidies, the Conservative Party budget promises cut after cut after cut in a bid to return to a balanced budget over the course of 5 years, with the hope being a net surplus by the 2024-25.
The biggest tax cut will be the Universal Tax Cut, which will “reduce the tax rate on income under $47,630 from 15 per cent to 13.75 per cent,” in a bid to address the concerns of lower-income people and families. According to CTV News, this would cost approximately $548 million in 2020-21, and would likely grow in price as the Conservatives plan on progressively lowering the tax burden.
The next big cut on taxes would be removing GST from home energy bills, which would save each household roughly $100 dollars after being implemented.
Another cut to expenses comes in the form of a repeal to the Carbon Tax. According to the document, “For Canadians, if Justin Trudeau is given four more years, the price of gas will increase by 31.1 cents per litre and natural gas will increase by $469 per year.” This increase would be due to the emissions targets set by the Trudeau government, which would need progressive increases to the price of gas to incentivize alternative means of energy production.
However, to promote environmentally friendly alternatives, the Conservative have proposed creating a Green Home Renovation Tax Credit. This would be “To encourage Canadians to lower emissions from their homes, we will introduce a two-year, 20 per cent refundable tax credit to help cover the cost of green home renovations between $1,000 and $20,000,” the Conservative Party explains
“This would apply to things like solar panels, insulation, or energy efficient windows and doors that improve your home’s energy efficiency,” they write. “These green home improvements will save you money in the long term by lowering your monthly energy bill. These renovations also have the potential to increase the value of your home. This two-year tax credit will be available in the 2020 and 2021 calendar years.”
Another item on the list of addressing environmental concerns will be promoting public transit use by introducing a Green Public Transit Tax Credit, which the Conservatives believe would save a family reliant on services such as the TTC in Toronto up to $1,000 per year.
The Conservatives have also chosen to slash the taxing of maternity and parental benefits by “remov[ing] federal income tax from EI maternity and EI parental benefits by providing a tax credit for any income earned under these two programs.” They added that the savings from the tax credit will be paid up front so that new parents have access to the funds immediately.
They have also pledged to support adoptive parents.
All these tax cuts and credits will, of course, put a major strain on the government’s overall budget and is expected to save Canadians an estimated $69 billion over the next five years. To balance this cost, the Party says they will implement numerous cuts to various social service programs, as well as making major cuts to foreign spending, including a $1.5 billion cut to foreign aid in the first year. It will also run a $23 billion deficit in the first year if elected, easing into a surplus over a five-year period as infrastructure investments begin paying off.
This plan was heavily criticized by Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau.
“The Conservatives are proposing $53 billion worth of cuts. Deeper cuts than even Doug Ford is putting forward,” Trudeau said. “That’s why they waited until Friday night, of a long weekend, at the end of the election, before sharing with Canadians their plan to cut services.”
When asked about the cuts to various services, Scheer, again, promised that his Party will not slash any of the core services which people rely on.
“We are committed to increasing the transfer payments for health, education and social programs. That is a guaranteed,” Scheer said. “We’ve said where we’re going to get the money from. We’re going to get it from corporate welfare; we’re going to get it from foreign aid.
“We’re going to make sure that government real estate is allocated responsibly, so the government is wasting money with empty office space all over the country.”