Hard on Families, Light on Crime: Some Thoughts on the Throne Speech

Kate McInturff, CCPA Blog Behind the Numbers [Kate McInturff is a CCPA research associate and an expert on gender budgeting and women’s human rights.]

The Throne Speech had a lot to say about Canadian families. The Government promised to make “the right choices” for Canadian families. Just like the choices it has made so far. The Government promised safety and security for Canadian families. Not to mention lower cable bills.

How do those promises measure up against reality?

First, let’s be clear about which Canadian family we are talking about. The Throne Speech, like the 2013 Federal Budget, claimed that the “average family” was now saving an additional $3220 in taxes as a result of specific tax measure introduced in the past 5 years. Measures like the reduction in GST and new child tax credits. However, the Government’s math on this one is a little tricky. So is their definition of “average.”

Assuming the “average family” in the Throne Speech is the same “average family” in the Federal Budget, that family is defined as two parents with two children. However, not all two-parent, two-children families are created equal. Depending on how many parents are working and which parent is working, average family incomes can range from $37,500/year to $136,700/year. The only way the Government’s tax math makes sense is if the family in question is a two-earner, two-parent family with an average pre-tax income of $115,000/year, ruling out the 73% of Canadian families who earn less than that.

Here is a little more tricky math for Canadian families: in order for that particular double-earner family of four to save that extra $3220, they have to spend $2000 on fitness and art classes for their children (to get the maximum $300 tax credit) and they will have to spend a whopping $50,000 on taxable goods and services (to save $1000 from that 2% reduction in GST).

The final irony is that with two working parents and two children, this “average” family will certainly need childcare. For a government that claims to understand “the daily pressures ordinary Canadian families face,” they seem to be significantly underestimating the pressure of finding affordable and safe childcare spaces. The government has done nothing to increase the number of safe, affordable childcare spaces available to working parents, and the Universal Child Care Benefit, at a maximum of $1,200/year, doesn’t come close to the cost of having two children in childcare (which can exceed $24,000/year depending on where you live).

The majority of Canadian families are left out of this picture. Not to mention the majority of Canadians. While the Government promises to be guided by the choices families make in its own economic policies, those policies have consistently left the female half of Canadian families out in the cold….

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