Monday, May 2, 2011

The Collective Canadian Pocket & Why Voting Matters

I just finished writing a financial literacy lesson plan for preteens called "An Intro to Making Money." In this lesson I use a pocket to demonstrate what income and expenses are: income puts money in your pocket while expenses take money out.

With today being election day, I got to thinking about our collective Canadian pocket and how an election is all about deciding which party will be in charge of what goes in and what goes out. By the way, did you know that in the recently defeated budget our collective pocket takes in $235.6 billion in total revenue and pays out $276 billion in total expenses. That's a lot of loose change!

The funny thing (or perhaps disturbing thing) is that about half of us don't really seem to care about which party controls our collective cash. According to Elections Canada, only 58.8% of eligible voters turned out for the last federal election in 2008. Are we going to do any better this time?

I know the old complaint (often made by really smart people who are really good at managing their personal pockets) that the parties are all the same so there's no point in voting. Well, I'd  like to challenge that truism with some examples of how significantly the parties differ in how they want to manage Canada's cash.

How the Parties will Manage OUR Money

Arts & Culture
The Conservatives will establish a Children's Arts Tax Credit of up to $500 per child. The Liberals will double the annual budget of the Canada Arts Council from $180 million to $360 million over the next four years. The NDP will increase public funding for the Canada Council and implement tax averaging for artists and cultural workers.

The Conservatives will extend support for the Canada Youth Business Foundation which provides loans and mentoring to young entrepreneurs. The Liberals will establish a new Early Childhood Learning and Care Fund beginning with $500 million in the first year, rising to an annual commitment of $1 billion by the fourth year. The NDP will raise the education tax credit from $4,800 per year to $5,760 per year.

Families & Households
The Conservatives will establish a Family Caregiver Tax Credit, on the amount of $2000, to support Canadians caring for infirm loved ones. The Liberals will invest $1 billion annually in a new Family Care Plan. The NDP will improve Family and Maternity Leave Benefits.

Health & Health Care
The Conservatives will double the value of the Children's Fitness Tax Credit up to $1000 per child. The Liberals will invest $40 million over four years to implement a new Healthy Start program to help children from low-income families access healthy, home-grown foods. The NDP will introduce an intergenerational Home Forgivable Loan Program to help up to 200,000 families a year retrofit their homes to create self-contained secondary residences for senior family members...up to a maximum of $35,000 per family.

Yours, Mine & Ours
You can do more party platform comparisons online and I hope you do. I mean really, if you care about money at all, yours, mine and ours, this is a great way to show it. The winners today will be in charge of our collective pocket. And having your say in which party is going to have that control is worth a trip to the voting booth. After all, your personal pocket has a stake in it too.

And don't forget to drag the kids along. As with financial literacy and the language of money, you can start teaching your kids to speak democracy at any age.

Copyright 2011. Laura Thomas. All Rights Reserved.
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  1. This election is filled with bad actors. If you care about money or being able to retire then you can't vote for NDP. But then the Conservatives are opaque dishonest bullies this time around (like Cretien was back in the day) so you can't vote for people with that kind of character. Liberals are pretty much impotent and seem to be saying whatever might get them elected so you can't even believe anything they say.

    Who to vote for?

  2. Character flaws aside, I think this really is a party election. Why not let the money decide for you? Pick one issue that you really care about and see what spending/saving/growing/sharing plans each party has. This webpage will help: