Friday, August 25, 2006

Kennedy Offers Bold Proposal

My only gripe with the Kennedy campaign has been their failure to address the criticism that he is light on policy. Today, Kennedy too a big stride with an impressive and, frankly, bold initiative on female equality. The highlights:

-A commitment of 0.7 per cent of GDP to childcare and early learning programs in Canada by 2012. In Canada, the share of GDP devoted to total public expenditures on formal daycare and pre-primary education is 0.3 per cent compared to the OECD average of 0.7 per cent. Denmark spends 2.7 per cent of GDP, which is considered one reason it ranks among the top-three OECD countries with the highest female workforce participation rates...

-Review the tax rate that is charged on second-earners relative to single earners in Canada, thereby discouraging female labour force participation. Canada ranks near the top of all OECD countries with one of the highest disincentives to two-income couples. The ratio of tax rates between a second earner and a single earner is 1.4 in Canada compared to an average of 1.2 across the OECD. We will look at reducing this disparity in marginal tax rates or eliminating it entirely...

-Promotion of apprenticeship programs in the skilled trades to women to achieve greater participation: According to 2001 data from Statistics Canada, men accounted for 91 per cent of total registrations in formal apprenticeship programs.

Kennedy's plan on childcare goes well beyond the previous Liberal government's commitment. Kennedy's commitment offers an even more striking descrepancy with the Conservatives plan, which would make for an interesting election debate. It's a bold plan, with considerable money required, but it demonstrates Kennedy's commitment to a progressive agenda.

Eliminating the flaws in the tax code that put two income families at a disadvantage should help close the gender gap and create a more equitable environment. Encouraging female participation in traditional male dominated trades (which are high paying jobs) also moves the agenda forward, toward an eventual goal of real equality.

Planting a flag on the progressive landscape beyond the easy platitudes. This type of policy paper is exactly what Kennedy needs to do to demonstrate he has a vision for the country. I'm impressed with today's release because it sets the bar high and demonstrates a real, concrete, commitment that compliments the rhetoric. Good stuff.

6 comments:

bigcitylib said...

Good moves from Kennedy. Of course he will have to overcome skepticism on the daycare issue--promising yet again that Libs will do something. But good to see him actually DOING something.

Glyn (Zaphod) Evans said...

Yeah these policy announcements actually make a lot of sense!

Great stuff :)

Steve V said...

The size of the commitment might speak to any cynicism about flowery promises.

Pete said...

0.7% eh? Hopefully, unlike the last time I heard someone promise 0.7 (foreign aid..) it'll be met. From the little I'm following of this campaign (it's gone on for far too long, and still has months to go :() Kennedy seems to be the one I'd like to see in the Liberal leadership seat...

bigcitylib said...

Talk about this at my blog. Hat tipped you.

I'd like to see Kennedy actually stake something on this being a serious promise. (Like I'll get something through in first session if I become PM, sort of thing).

Steve V said...

bigcity

Whether you support Kennedy or not, I think everyone can agree that during his tenure in Ontario's cabinet he made things happen. Talk is cheap, but I'm inclined to take him at face value.