T-minus 26 days until the federal election — but who’s counting? — and campaigning continues apace.
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We’ve been doing our best to keep up with the electoral spin cycle. And we’ve been consistently deluged with reader queries on everything from when, where and how to vote; to the practical implications of the feds’ new health care transfers formula (spoiler: too early to say).
Here are a few of the questions we keep getting. Send us your pressing election question using the form below.
“What are the NDP and the Liberals going to do about ISIS?”
– Eric, health care worker in Alberta
Both NDP leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau have slammed the Conservatives’ actions in the Middle East, where Canadian troops have been engaged in a bombing mission against ISIS, the so-called Islamic State, in Iraq and Syria.
Conservative leader Stephen Harper, for his part, argues Canada needs to be there — that pulling out would mean Canada’s burying its head in the sand when it comes to international terror threats that could target this country as well as others.
So what would the opposition parties do differently?
Mulcair has pledged to get Canada’s military out of Iraq and Syria “immediately.”
Trudeau has said he wants to end Canada’s bombing mission but keep troops there to train the Iraqi military.
“What are the parties’ views on a Universal Pharmacare Program for Canada?”
– Valerie, single working mom of a university student in Orleans, Ont.
The NDP has promised to sit down with the provinces and hammer out a universal drug coverage program if elected. Last week Mulcair pledged $2.6 billion over four years, which in all likelihood wouldn’t cover the feds’ share of the cost: Canadians spend a total of $30 billion a year on prescription drugs, of which about $18 million is either covered by private insurance or out-of-pocket payments.
The Liberals have promised to sit down with the provinces and talk about how to make drugs cheaper, but haven’t said how they’ll do that.
The Conservatives like the idea of coordinating bulk purchases to lower the cost of drugs overall, but don’t like the idea of a national drug coverage program.
“Why is it that all the focus is always on families? What about those of us who are single and have to pay ALL the bills on one income? What tax breaks or programs are there out there to help us single people out??”
– Shawna, Regina
We get this question a lot.
And it’s true: One phrase campaign-watchers keep hearing is “working families.”
For one thing, it’s good politics. Kids are adorable. Families tickle the interpersonal-obligation parts of our limbic systems and remind us we haven’t called in ages.
But there’s also an economic argument in favour of targeting underprivileged families, says Wilfrid Laurier University economist Tammy Schirle.
“There’s a very good case to be made for the parties to think about issues of poverty, especially child poverty, and how they might shape policies to help those kids who need it the most,” she said.
“These are early investments in kids that can pay off huge dividends in the long run.”
So what about Canadians with no children to get child benefits, no spouses with whom to split incomes?
There are precious few programs specifically targeted at single, working-age adults, period. But chances are you fit into a group targeted by a different political promise — whether because of your income, employment or housing status, health or (dis)ability. There’s no shortage of promises, but we have a handy link for you here.
Tell us your story and send us your questions. We’ll do our best to get a coherent answer.