Ted Talks: Family Tax Cuts

Ted Falk began his column this past week by commending the people in Provencher for being the most generous in Canada. I couldn’t agree more, and was not at all surprised to see Steinbach at the top of the list of generous cities in McLean’s rankings. And I know that the people in Provencher aren’t generous for the sake of recognition or rankings – it’s just in their nature. So I was pleased to see Ted’s congratulations, but I was concerned: what if I agreed with Ted about everything in his column, and had nothing to write about this week?

Thankfully, Ted quickly used the generosity of the people of Provencher as a segue to discuss the generosity of the Conservative government in regard to tax cuts. But even there, I have little to argue with (except the fact that he argues that two thirds of the tax cuts go to lower and middle income families as if that’s a good thing, when by most measures – it’s complicated – the lower and middle class make up as much as 80% of Canadians, making these tax cuts still lean in favour of the richest Canadians). My son Sam is six months old, and I very much appreciate the Universal Child Care Benefit; combined with parental leave, it’s currently affording me the opportunity to spend more time with my family without worrying too much about income. I can’t say that I see an increase in UCCB as a bad thing.

What I would like to say about the Conservative tax cuts is simply that they’re further complicating an already extremely complicated system. The Green Party also believes in leaving more money in the hands of Canadians, but we propose to do it by changing the system to something far simpler. Instead of taxing a good thing, like your income, we propose to tax bad things, like pollution. While the Conservative plan will lead to higher tax rebates for Canadians in the Spring, the Green tax plan would allow Canadians to take home their whole paycheck, taxing them on their consumption instead of on their output. This would give Canadians the ability to direct more of their money to where they think it best used, and give them more control over the actual amount that they’re taxed. (Plus, they’d have less need to hire an accountant every tax season.)

Finally, I take exception to Ted’s claim that “our Conservative Government is the only party who believes parents are the ones who know what is best for their children.” That’s a low blow, Ted, and obviously false. Ask any parent, including any Liberal and NDP members, and they’ll all tell you that they know what is best for their children. Nobody is saying otherwise. The Liberals and NDP are merely proposing other systems of helping Canadians pay for child care, because they believe those systems to be more efficient. It’s unfair and deceptive to say otherwise. The real difference is that the Liberal and NDP plans are aimed at making it easier for families to afford child care and thus maintain work outside the home, while the Conservative plan strikes a middle path of giving families a subsidy for having children and optional child-care subsidies so that they can choose to stay home or not. Ted neglected to mention the Green Party at all, but for the record our tax reforms are designed to not only increase the amount of take-home pay Canadians receive, but to also help Canadians spend more time with their families; we will also encourage Canadians to do so, as we value the family and recognize that healthy families make for a healthy society. (See pages 89-90 of Vision Green.) So no, Ted, the Conservatives are NOT the only party that thinks that parents know what is best for their children, nor are the Conservatives the only party that values families.

Provencher, your families (and your generosity) are too important to be used as a tool for partisan politics. I encourage you to ask all of the candidates in the upcoming election about their party’s plans are for child care and taxation. As always, I’d love to hear from you.

Your candidate,

Jeff Wheeldon

Jeff Wheeldon

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2 thoughts on “Ted Talks: Family Tax Cuts

  1. Well said, Jeff.

    I think there are some elements to the Conservative’s “generosity” that needs further scrutiny. They’ve made some serious cuts to healthcare programs, offloading the burden to provinces. They’ve made cuts to social program funding and some feel that they are using the CRA to shut down left-leaning charities because they dare to advocate for their social ideals. They’ve harassed charities that would seek to reduce poverty, they’ve ignored 1000 missing and murdered indigenous women, they’ve sold out the environment.

    I don’t think they are generous at all; I think they know that the “lower taxes” message will resonate with a lot of people and they are buying votes by selling out our society and future.

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    1. Thanks for the comment. I think you’re right, more or less. I think that part of the problem is that most people aren’t aware of what taxes actually pay for. Income tax is a single, arbitrary tax that pays for most government programs, and there isn’t exactly an easy-to-access list of all government programs; and even if there were, most people aren’t aware of which programs they benefit from. It’s easy for people to see taxes as an arbitrary way for the government to take their money and give it to other people, rather than the way that we all work together for all of our benefit; and it’s therefore easy for a government to cut programs as a way to win the support of people, even if many of those people actually benefit from the programs that have been cut (and didn’t even know it).

      This is another example of why I think that greater clarity in our tax system is necessary. A simpler tax structure that is a direct response to an issue that costs us money (such as a carbon tax in recognition of the economic, health, and social cost of pollution) will make taxes less arbitrary; and greater communication about the value we receive for our tax dollars (e.g., how services benefit us) would keep us from rejoicing over cut programs quite so much. And all of this would make us less vulnerable to being manipulated by the kind of political rhetoric that we so often see in columns like this.

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