Pierre Poilievre: Trudeau’s “new plan will take away every benefit our Conservative party has delivered for families … and [will] take away Tax-Free Savings Accounts entirely.”
By: Jacob Schroeder on
Pierre Poilievre, Conservative MP for Nepean—Carleton, in an email on May 8, 2015
At least three benefits would not be cut. Under Trudeau’s plan, the Universal Child Care Benefit would be rolled into the new Canada Child Benefit. Trudeau has said he would roll back the recent increase to contribution limits, but his office denies any plans to cancel TFSAs. And the Liberals have promised not to cancel pension income-splitting.FactsCan Score: Farcical
In an email to supporters, Pierre Poilievre, the Minister of Employment and Social Development, criticized Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s recently released plan, “Fairness for the Middle Class.” (PDF) Two claims made by Poilievre are that the “new plan will take away every benefit [the] Conservative party has delivered for families,” and that Trudeau will “take away Tax-Free Savings Accounts entirely.”
To check this, we need to first look at a handful of benefits the Conservative Party has implemented for families, and then what Trudeau wants to do with them. Because of the way the statement is worded, it could be proven false if only one benefit would get preserved under the Liberals. But we look at three benefits that have recently been in the news.
Benefits for families
On the party’s website is a list of ways Conservatives say they have supported families, which we can interpret as benefits for families. Included are the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB), Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs), and pension income-splitting.
Introduced by the Conservatives in 2006, the UCCB gives families $100 per month for each child under six years old. This is currently being expanded to $160 per month, along with a new benefit of $60 per month for children ages six to seventeen years old. This benefit is not tied to income, and is taxable.
TFSAs were introduced by the Conservative government in 2009. The accounts allow Canadians to save and invest without paying tax on interest or investment income earned in the account. Previously, Canadians could put away $5,500 per year, with unused amounts rolling over into the next year. In April, the federal budget announced an increase in the contribution limit to $10,000 per year.
Also introduced by the Conservatives, pension income-splitting allows married or common-law pensioners to split pension income for tax purposes. If one person’s pension puts them into a higher tax bracket than their partner’s, this additional income can be split to the partner and taxed at a lower rate.
A key piece of Trudeau’s plan for families is his proposed Canada Child Benefit (CCB). According to the Liberal proposal (PDF), this benefit “builds on the existing … Canada Child Tax Benefit … the National Child Benefit Supplement [and] replaces the Universal Child Care Benefit.”
There are two big differences between the CCB and the UCCB it means to replace. The first is that the CCB would tie benefits to a family’s income, with higher earners receiving a smaller benefit. The second is that these benefits would be tax-free. The Liberals claim that under this plan, families with incomes under $150,000 per year would receive more money than they currently do under the Conservatives.
Regarding TFSAs, Trudeau has said that if elected, the Liberals would reverse the newly enacted increase in account limits. Asked about cancelling TFSAs altogether, a senior Liberal in Trudeau’s office said the party has “zero plans to axe the program entirely.”
As for pension income-splitting, while the Liberals have promised to cancel regular income-splitting, Trudeau’s office said it’s a “promise” to keep the benefit for pensioners.
If the Liberals planned to preserve just one benefit, Poilievre’s claim would be false, but at least three benefits for families would not be cut entirely. According to Trudeau’s plan, the CCB would replace the UCCB, so on this count, the claim is misleading at best. And Trudeau’s office denies plans to cancel TFSAs or pension income-splitting, nor is there other evidence to suggest this is the case.
Because Poilievre’s claim runs contrary to all available information and appears almost completely baseless, we score this as farcical. Poilievre did not respond to requests for comment.
An Te Chu contributed reporting.