A political parade of pre-election promises

Comparing major federal parties’ commitments on business issues

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In hopes of shining some light in the fog surrounding major federal party platforms, Business in Vancouver has compiled a summary of comparable data on five key business planks in the three major federal party platforms.

There is little clarity yet over which major federal political party has earned the attention of business leaders in B.C. and elsewhere across the country.

Each of the three suffers from a considerable leadership deficit, which in the business world is a major marketplace handicap.

Televised debates have, by and large, served primarily to illustrate how far the standard of discourse has been lowered in North American politics and how counterproductive the current televised debate format is for anyone hungry for leadership or party platform information on substantive business and social issues.

But political personalities aside, there is far more clarity on Canadian business concerns as the country heads into federal election 2019’s home stretch.

Signs of a slowing global economy and worries over a looming recession are growing.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, for example, has projected global growth in 2019 and 2020 to slow to its lowest annual rate since the 2007-08 global financial crisis.

Ongoing trade uncertainty and tariff tensions between Canada’s two largest trading partners are eroding the country’s business confidence.

Debt and deficit accumulation appears to have become standard operating procedure for the incumbent Liberals. That disregard for the dangers of deepening public debt will be a fundamental  concern for any business trying to survive in the competitive private-sector marketplace.

Other economic and investment worries are intensifying over Canada’s inability to develop its rich natural resource sector.

Delays and federal fumbling over pipeline projects have, for example, cost the country and its taxpayers an estimated $6.2 billion in revenue since 2013. So now the spectre of a minority government for Canada looms large.

That result is rarely good news for political and economic progress.

– trenshaw@biv.com

@timothyrenshaw

 

HOUSING

Liberal

•Keep the new first-time homebuyer incentive, which gives people up to 10% off the purchase price of their first home

•Increase the qualifying value for that incentive to nearly $800,000 in the places where houses cost more

•Create a national tax on vacant residential properties owned by non-Canadians who don’t live in Canada

•Work with interested provinces, territories and communities to establish a national approach to beneficial ownership so that law enforcement and tax authorities have the tools necessary to crack down on financial crime in the real estate sector

•Build new, purpose-built, accessible and affordable housing units, with a full range of health, social and employment supports for veterans who need extra help

 

NDP

•Provide an additional $5 billion to fund new affordable housing

•Create 250,000 units of quality, affordable housing in the next five years and another 250,000 units in the following five years

•Establish “fast-start funds” to facilitate the construction of co-ops and social and non-profit housing

•Waive the federal portion of the GST/HST on the construction of new affordable rental units 

•Reintroduce 30-year terms to CMHC insured mortgages on entry-level homes for first-time homebuyers.

•Double the Home Buyers’ Tax Credit to $1,500

•Resources to facilitate co-housing

•Implement a new foreign-buyer’s tax on the sale of homes to individuals who aren’t Canadian citizens or permanent residents

 

Conservative

•Change the mortgage stress test to ensure that first-time homebuyers aren’t unnecessarily prevented from getting mortgages, and work with Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions to remove the stress test from mortgage renewals to give homeowners more options

•Increase amortization periods on insured mortgages to 30 years for first-time homebuyers to lower monthly payments

•Launch an inquiry into money laundering in the real estate sector and work with industry partners to root out corrupt practices that inflate housing prices

•Make surplus federal real estate available for development to increase the supply of housing

 

TRANSPORTATION

Liberal

•Committed to a national infrastructure fund that supports “nation-building” connective projects. The only project currently specified is a fixed link between Newfoundland and Labrador

•Promising a  $3 billion increase in “stable” funding to public transit and a requirement for federal funding to go to projects with zero-emission vehicles by 2023

•Ppromising a shift toward low-emission tankers for Trans Mountain pipeline shipments and added support for marine vessel conversion from oil/diesel

•Promising the installation of up to 5,000 electrical charging stations along Trans-Canada Highway and other roads

•Would expand electric car rebate to used vehicles (10% of price, up to $2,000)

•Would increase annual investment in small craft harbours by $40 million

 

NDP

•Promising larger cash incentives  of up to $15,000 to encourage consumers to buy zero-emission vehicles, especially those built in Canada

•Promising to convert all public transit systems in Canada to electric by 2030 and move toward “fare-free” public transit

Would commit $30 million to reduce BC Ferries fares

•Promising to use transportation upgrades as key greenhouse gas emissions reduction projects

•Promising to commit $6.5 billion to cleaner transit alternatives

•Would re-establish rural bus routes abandoned by Greyhound and expand bus services in rural regions

 

Conservative

•Promising to cancel the federal carbon tax program

•Promising to scrap the $35 billion federal infrastructure bank due to red tape and lack of transparency

•Committed to reintroducing the 15% Green Public Transit Tax Credit (estimated at $229 million in 2020) on weekly/monthly transit passes and long-term fare cards to help cut the cost of public transit and encourage additional ridership

•Committed to prioritize infrastructure projects, such as the replacement of the George Massey Tunnel between Richmond and Delta, that reduce commute times

•Promising to fund a new $10.9 billion subway line and a $5.6 billion extension to an existing line in Toronto

 

TAXATION

Liberal

•Increase the basic exception to $15,000 from $12,069, resulting in tax savings of $600 per family annually

•10% tax on luxury cars, boats and aircraft

•A corporate tax cut of 50% for companies developing or manufacturing zero-emission technologies

 

NDP

•Increase the capital gains inclusion rate to 75% from 50%

•Roll back Harper-era corporate tax cuts, raising corporate taxes to 18% from 15%

•Wealth tax of 1% annually on wealth exceeding $20 million

•Increase the top marginal personal income tax rate two percentage points to 35%

•15% foreign-buyer’s tax on residential properties

•Close stock option loopholes and crack down on shell companies operating in tax havens

 

Conservative

•Cut tax rate on income under $47,640 to 13.75% from 15%, resulting in tax savings of $850 per family annually

•Bring back several Harper-era tax credits, including for public transit as well as children’s fitness and arts programs

•Relaunch income sprinkling and reduce passive income tax rate for Canadian-controlled private corporations earning more that $50,000 in passive income

•Increase the government’s RESP contribution to 30% from 20% up to $2,500

 

LABOUR, SKILLS AND TRAINING

Liberal

•Create a Canada Training Benefit to help workers pay for training and provide income support during training

•Guaranteed job training for apprentices

•Career insurance benefit for workers laid off after working continuously for the same employer for five years or more. Provides an additional 20% of insured earnings in the first year following a layoff

•Federal minimum wage of $15 an hour beginning in 2020 and rising with inflation

 

NDP

•Change employment insurance (EI) rules to allow workers who quit their jobs to go to school to qualify for EI benefits

•Require employers to pay at least 1% of payroll annually on training employees

•Create a Workers Development and Opportunities Fund to offer additional training options beyond people who qualify for EI

•Rederal minimum wage of $15 an hour

•Ban unpaid internships outside educational programs

 

Conservative

•Create jobs by launching a national energy corridor, employing resource-sector workers

Commission an agriculture and agri-food labour strategy to deal with chronic labour shortages

Government re-training programs to meet demand in tech sector 

Expand the Red Seal program and harmonize apprenticeship training and trade certification between provinces and territories

 

RESOURCES AND ENERGY

Liberal

•Complete expansion of Trans Mountain pipeline and earmark $500 million in annual tax revenue from pipeline to climate change initiatives and clean energy

•Cut corporate taxes in half for clean-technology companies developing and manufacturing zero-emission technology

•Establish a $5 billion Clean Power Fund to build new transmission lines to electrify industry and move remote communities from diesel power to clean power

 

NDP

•Cancel Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

•Eliminate fossil fuel subsidies

•Establish Canadian Climate Bank to invest in renewable energy, energy efficiency, increased grid connections and made-in-Canada renewable energy components

•Work with Indigenous communities to get them off diesel generator power

 

Conservative

•Assert federal authority over new pipelines by declaring them to be in the national interest

•Cancel national carbon tax, repeal bills C-69 (new environmental act) and C-48 (B.C. oil tanker moratorium)

•Develop a national energy corridor for pipelines, transmission lines and telecommunications

•Make Canada energy self-sufficient by 2030