Conservatives debate grad-specific tax cut
By Anton Vidgen
Leadership candidates for the new Conservative Party of Canada
are trying to court the youth vote with fiscal and economic
policies aimed at lessening the burden on graduates’ wallets.
Former Ontario health minister Tony Clement is promoting his “Jump
Start 250” program, which would exempt young taxpayers
from being taxed on the first $250,000 they earn, said Gord
Haugh, a spokesperson for the Clement campaign.
“This is a way for people to stay at home, to stay in
Canada,” Haugh said, adding young professionals often
face immediate costs like buying a house.
Though he acknowledged the potentially high price tag of the
program, Haugh stressed the importance of keeping qualified
professionals — such as healthcare workers and professors — in
the Canadian economy to minimize the detrimental effects of
the so-called “brain drain” to the United States.
“The policy is really about giving people an incentive
to live, work and raise a family in Canada,” said Rohit
Gupta, policy chair for Clement’s campaign, adding only
youth 18 and older would qualify, and not other groups such
as landed immigrants.
A spokesperson for the Belinda Stronach campaign said Clement’s
program is a “good addition to the debate,” but
it failed to address the main concerns of graduates. “The
real issue is creating jobs for our young people when they
graduate,” said Stacey Gray.
Another Stronach proposal would allow students to deduct the
amount they pay in tuition from their income tax, confirmed
Rob Savage, a media relations officer for the campaign. “It’s
important that we are supporting our young people,” Savage
“The Canadian Taxpayers Federation does not support
specific tax breaks,” said the organization’s research
director Bruce Winchester. “We favour broadly-based tax
reduction measures that favour all Canadians.”
The campaign team of the third leadership contender, Stephen
Harper, did not return calls for comment.