Federal Party Leaders—Our Questions, Their Replies

vote 2006 Winston Carter,
CTF President

It is important to note that although the responsibility for education lies with the provinces and territories, federal government policies on a host of issues have direct impact on the learning environment in the classroom.

In preparation for the January 23, 2006, federal election, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) asked federal party leaders a series of questions related to education, children and youth. Issue sheets on many of these topics, as well as the replies received from the federal political parties, are available on the CTF website (www.ctf-fce.ca) or the ATA website (www.teachers.ab.ca).

Well-educated children and youth are essential to Canada’s capability of providing strong, accessible public education and health systems in the future. They are our best guarantee of quality accessible public services. CTF believes that investing in children and youth will pay more dividends and create more prosperity for all Canadians over the long term than any combination of tax relief or debt reduction measures.

Please discuss education related issues with candidates in your federal riding and seek their views. Share the replies to our questions with your colleagues, friends and relatives and encourage them to support those candidates who commit to making Canada’s children and youth a top priority in the next parliament.

Editor’s note: Additional questions and answers are available on the CTF website (www.ctf-fce.ca). Bloc Québécois responses are featured on the CTF website.

Immigrant and Refugee Children

Question: Many schools and school boards are struggling to provide language and other settlement services to immigrant and refugee children. What is your position on support for schools and school boards, considering that immigration is under federal jurisdiction? What can the federal government do, in collaboration with the provinces, to assist in meeting the needs of these students?

Liberal Party of Canada

Answer: The Liberal Party of Canada recognizes the challenges faced by teachers and school boards coping with large numbers of new Canadians. That’s why, in 2005, the Liberal government invested $298 million over five years to enhance settlement and integration programs. This is in addition to the current $173.35 million which is provided annually for basic settlement services outside of Québec (Québec receives a grant under the 1991 Canada-Québec Accord). Attracting and retaining skilled immigrants and ensuring they are able to reach their full potential sustains economic growth, promotes innovation, and keeps city and community economies strong. Furthermore, in an effort to enhance services to prospective immigrants and temporary residents, we invested $100 million over five years in our 2005 Budget to improve client services delivery for newcomers to Canada, including more efficient and responsive services and improvements to the availability of client information and assistance. The funding also supports and enhances the Going to Canada Portal—a website to integrate immigrants into the Canadian labour market and society if they apply and are accepted.

Our last two budgets made significant investments on the recognition of foreign credentials, and to support language training. In 2004, we invested $75 million over five years under the Ten-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care, to accelerate and expand the assessment and integration of health care professionals educated abroad. We also committed $20 million a year to the Enhanced Language Training initiative, which helps immigrants acquire the language skills necessary to obtain and retain jobs suited to their skills and experience.

Conservative Party of Canada

Answer: The Conservative Party of Canada recognizes that it can be challenging for schools to provide comprehensive services for immigrant and refugee children. We believe it is important to ensure that refugees, immigrants, and their children, have the best possible opportunity to contribute to Canada’s economic and social well-being. For immigrant and refugee children, getting the most out of their education experience is crucial to their own personal development and to their future prosperity. A Conservative Government would support a multi-pronged approach to work cooperatively with the provinces and municipalities on policy relating to settlement support for refugees, immigrants, and their children. We will address the need for adequate and equitable resources to provide language instruction, encourage community mentoring, build job search skills and offer other settlement services to meet the needs of immigrants, refuges, and their children. Additionally, we examine the feasibility of having federal funds for settlement services follow the movement of newcomers from one region to another.

New Democratic Party

Answer: We are committed to increasing federal funding for immigrant settlement, education and skills training in Canada. We are committed to work with provinces and territories to respect foreign qualifications of professionals so immigrants can start working in their field of training and improve their families’ financial situation.

Healthy Schools—Children and Youth with Physical and Mental Challenges

Question: Do you support the broadening of federal government policies that promote healthy diet and physical fitness to include the dimensions of mental health and school infrastructure? More specifically, what role would you see for the federal government in meeting the needs of youngsters with physical and mental health challenges?

Liberal Party of Canada

Answer: The Liberal government believes that maintaining a healthy population demands not only a high quality of public health care, but a sustained public effort to promote health and disease prevention. That is why this Liberal government created the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) in September 2004. The agency’s mandate is to strengthen Canada’s public health and emergency response capacity and to develop national strategies for managing infectious and chronic disease. In Budget 2005, we built on the initial investments to the PHAC by providing $300 million over five years for an integrated Strategy on Healthy Living and Chronic Disease. The Strategy includes a series of activities to promote healthy eating, encourage physical activity and healthy weight, which can help to prevent and control chronic diseases.

The Liberal government is also committed to assisting families of children with disabilities. In 2005, we announced measures that

• broaden and clarify the eligibility criteria of the Disability Tax Credit;

• expand the list of disability supports allowable under the Disability Supports Deduction;

• increase the maximum credit under the Refundable Medical Expense Supplement from $571 to $750 per year, and raised the supplement to $1,000 as recommended by the Technical Advisory Committee;

• increase the Child Disability Benefit moving claims from $1,681 to $2,000 per year and further raised the Child Disability Benefit to $2,300;

• double the amount that caregivers may claim for medical expenses under the Disability Tax Credit from $5,000 to $10,000; and,

• make a $6 million dollar investment for 2005-06 and $1 million in ongoing funding to help the CNIB enhance its library services across the county.

Conservative Party of Canada

Answer: Children with physical and mental challenges must be afforded the opportunity to participate fully in society. The Conservative Party of Canada is committed to working with the provinces and territories to develop ways to improve the lives of youngsters with physical and mental health challenges.

New Democratic Party

Answer: We support promoting healthy diet and physical fitness for all Canadians and especially young Canadians. Last November 2004, Pat Martin the Winnipeg Centre MP introduced a motion in the House of Commons to effectively ban trans fats. The motion passed with 193 votes against 73, with the support of MPs from all parties. We have always called to aggressively pursue a major federal plan for the prevention of illness and injury, focusing on good nutrition and physical fitness, a clean and healthy environment, quality housing and attacking poverty.

Where do the feberal parties stand on education issues? Visit www.teachers.ab.ca or www.ctf-fce.ca.

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