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Conservatives Unveil Bold Platform Promising Billions in Pandemic Aid

The Conservative Party of Canada has recently unveiled its comprehensive 160-page election platform, which presents an ambitious agenda aimed at revitalizing the economy following the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike previous Conservative platforms,...

The Conservative Party of Canada has recently unveiled its comprehensive 160-page election platform, which presents an ambitious agenda aimed at revitalizing the economy following the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike previous Conservative platforms, this one embraces a more active role for government in the economy, with substantial cash injections to support businesses during the next two years.

While the multi-billion dollar plan has not yet been fully costed, the party asserts that the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) is currently analyzing the numbers. The platform outlines a commitment by Conservative leader Erin O'Toole to balance the budget within ten years, despite the projected federal deficit of $381.6 billion for this fiscal year alone.

In a departure from traditional conservative positions, O'Toole acknowledges the growing issue of inequality in the country and emphasizes the need for Conservatives to take it seriously. The platform promises to end the Liberal party's proposed national child care program, opting instead to provide direct financial support to parents to cover child care costs.

The platform also pledges to allocate significantly more funding to healthcare by increasing the annual growth rate of the Canada Health Transfer to a minimum of six percent, with a floor of three percent. The Conservative Party estimates that this more generous health transfer to the provinces will amount to nearly $60 billion over the next decade.

The centerpiece of the platform is a commitment to create one million jobs. To achieve this goal, the party plans to offer even more financial support to pandemic-affected employers than what has been already budgeted by the Liberal government. This move is intended to recover all jobs lost during the past 18 months, a period that saw the COVID-19 pandemic claim the lives of nearly 27,000 Canadians and drive unemployment rates to levels not seen since the 2008-09 financial crisis.

For businesses: 'Investment Accelerator' and a Hiring Subsidy

The Conservative Party's Canada Jobs Surge Plan promises to pay up to 50 percent of the salaries of new hires once the existing Canadian emergency wage subsidy (CEWS) is phased out. The platform also includes initiatives such as the creation of a "Canada Investment Accelerator," which would provide a five percent tax credit for capital investments made in 2022 and 2023. Additionally, it proposes the "rebuild Main Street tax credit," offering a 25 percent tax credit for personal investments of up to $100,000 in small businesses over the next two years. Furthermore, the platform outlines a "Main Street business loan" that would provide loans of up to $200,000 to small and medium-sized businesses in the hospitality, retail, and tourism sectors. This loan would come with the possibility of up to 25 percent forgiveness, depending on a company's revenue.

The Conservative Party criticizes the current Canada emergency business account (CEBA) program, which offers $60,000 loans to small businesses, deeming it insufficient and calls for its improvement.

To support the struggling restaurant industry, the Conservative Party promises a billion-dollar benefit. Under a Conservative government, a 50 percent rebate for food and non-alcoholic drinks purchased for dining in at restaurants between Monday and Wednesday would be provided for one month.

GST 'Holiday' and Affordable Housing Measures

The Conservative Party proposes a "GST holiday" as a means to assist struggling retailers. This month-long break on federal sales tax would apply to all purchases made at retail stores during the designated period, providing temporary relief to businesses affected by public health measures such as lockdowns.

Moreover, the platform addresses the issue of affordable housing by advocating for a two-year ban on foreign investors purchasing homes in Canada. This measure aims to alleviate the inflationary pressures on housing prices driven by overseas buyers. Notably, the recent federal budget proposed a one percent tax on foreign-owned vacant homes to mitigate home price inflation resulting from foreign buyers.

Climate Change and Media Reform

The platform also highlights O'Toole's climate plan, which proposes a revised version of the existing carbon pricing system. The Conservative Party's plan would see levies paid on fossil fuels deposited into personal "low carbon savings accounts." The objective is to enable all Canadians to contribute to the fight against climate change in a manner that aligns with their preferences and at an affordable carbon price.

Regarding media reform, the platform clarifies O'Toole's stance on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and proposes a review of the mandate of CBC English television, CBC News Network, and CBC English online. The Conservative Party aims to explore the viability of refocusing these services on a public interest model similar to that of PBS in the United States. The goal is to ensure that CBC no longer competes with private Canadian broadcasters and digital providers.

Through their comprehensive election platform, the Conservatives seek to address the challenges facing Canadians, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their proposals involve substantial investments, job creation initiatives, and measures to support businesses and families in various sectors. Should the Conservatives secure a mandate, these policies would chart a new path for the Canadian government, emphasizing the importance of economic recovery and growth.