New Democratic Party candidate Sheila Malcolmson

New Democratic Party candidate Sheila Malcolmson

Election 2015: All-candidates’ meeting touches on child care

NANAIMO – Conservative candidate Mark MacDonald absent from Tuesday's debate.

Caring for the nation’s youngest was front and centre at the latest all-candidates’ meeting.

Hosted by the Greater Nanaimo Early Years Partnership, candidates from three of the four major parties gathered at Beban Park social centre on Tuesday night.

Mark MacDonald, Conservative candidate, was absent from the meeting due to a scheduling conflict, but the remaining three Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidates outlined their parties’ plans around childcare and other social issues in front of a crowd of a roughly 150 people.

Sheila Malcolmson, NDP candidate, stressed her party’s plan to implement its childcare plan, which promises to create one million childcare spaces, as well as the NDP’s plan to give parents additional maternity leave.

“The New Democratic proposal is a universal and accessible program that would cost families no more than $15 a day,” Malcolmson said. “We have a practical, achievable way to do this in a respectful, co-operative manner that would work with provinces, territories and indigenous communities and the existing childcare providers.”

Tim Tessier, Liberal candidate, says the approach to childcare in Canada should not be a “one-size-fits-all approach” and touched on the his party’s Canada Child Benefit and National Early Learning Child Care Framework, with the latter calling for the investment of roughly $20 billion over the next 10 years.

“We will provide an immediate seven per cent tax break, our first bill in the house, to the families that need it most. To pay for this tax cut we are going to ask that one per cent of the wealthiest Canadians pay a little bit more,” Tessier said. “We will introduce the Canada Child Benefit … which pay an additional $205 per month over and above the Universal Child Care benefit that is available now.”

Paul Manly, Green Party candidate, says his party has a commitment to a “high-quality” federally funded childcare program in Canada that is accessible to any family, adding that the Greens plan to restore and revise the early learning and childcare agreements that were signed between the federal government and the provinces, but were cancelled by the Conservatives in 2005.

“My mom was an early childhood educator and I understand the importance of this and I understand the importance of it for my own children,” Manly said. “We would work with the provinces and territories to implement this program and we would restore and revise the 2005 agreement with the federal government to establish a universal childcare program in Canada. It wouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all program.”

Malcolmson says her party will work with the provinces and childcare providers and plans to raise corporate taxes to help pay for many of its planned social programs.

“We are looking for a mandate to ask the big corporations to pay a little bit more, To go from a 15 per cent tax rates up to 17 per cent and that would still be globally competitive,” Malcolmson said. “We will reverse the Conservatives’ spending tax loopholes, allowing CEOs to pay their fair share and end the tax programs that the Conservatives have brought in that only benefit the elite – that’s income splitting for the wealthy and increased limits for tax-free savings accounts.”

Candidates also touched on other social issues such as affordable housing and poverty, with Tessier saying that the poverty rate in the Nanaimo area is a growing concern.

“When you hear the numbers of the children in poverty in this community it is a shame,” Tessier said. “It is time we stop it. It’s not just from government. I challenge the private sector to get involved. Throughout this campaign tens of thousands of dollars have gone into signs, I’d love to have seen that been put into organizations.”Manly says that Canada  can do much better for its people.

“We live in a very rich country and we have a lot of wealth in this country,” Manly said. “We have a lot of resource wealth and a lot of knowledge, skills and ability and there is no reason why we can’t do these things.”

arts@nanaimobulletin.comTwitter: @npescod

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