Who Should I Vote For? 2021 Platform Comparison of Canada's Political Parties

By Scholarships Canada Modified on September 10, 2021

We run through the platforms of Canada's major political parties to break down their most relevant and interesting policy positions!

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Who Should I Vote For? Platform Comparison of Canada's Political Parties

Table of Contents


Introduction

Canada will soon hold a federal election to help decide on the next steps of our pandemic response. But there's much more at stake this year than just Covid. Each of the national parties are working hard to earn your vote, throwing out new and exciting policy proposals designed to grab your attention.

Of course, you're a busy student, and can't be expected to follow every policy pronouncement from coast to coast! That's why we've broken down the major parties' platforms to bring you the most important plans and proposals so you can make a good decision on Election Day, September 20.

Wondering how to vote? Check out our piece on How to Vote in the Canadian Federal Election to get all the details! Otherwise, let's learn a little more about our political parties...


Liberal Party of Canada

The Liberal Party of Canada, led by Justin Trudeau, called this early election in the hopes of winning and earning a majority government. If they did win, what would that mean for you as a student or recent graduate?

Let's look at part of their platform that will affect you the most.

Education

The Liberal party is definitely keeping students in mind for their plans for the future.

Previously, the Liberals have doubled the Canada Student Grant amount from $3,000 to $6,000. This has helped ease some financial burden and debt for students, and if re-elected, he promises to keep this amount of $6,000 in effect until July 2023 for full-time students.

They want to permanently eliminate federal interest on Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprenticeship Loans.

The Liberals are hoping to help post-secondary schools that are in minority languages by increasing funding to $80 million a year.

Good news for Aurora College students in the Northwest Territories – the Liberals want to transform your school into a polytechnic university with $8 million over two years.

As for you grad students, the Liberals would like to add 1,000 Canada Research Chairs to help attract and retain top talent at Canadian universities to support graduate research. This means that your mentors will be the best of the best!

Jobs

Whether you're thinking about your future career or your part-time job while in school, the Liberals are making plenty of promises that could benefit you!

The main change that may affect you as a student is the minimum wage increasing to $15 an hour.

For those of you thinking about your future careers, the Liberals are hoping to help make more jobs available for certain sectors by working to:

  • Hire up to 50,000 more PSWs to support seniors in long-term care
  • Train 1,000 new wildfire firefighters
  • Provide tourism industry with temporary wage and rent support of up to 75% of their expenses to help them get through the winter months
  • Establish a new apprentice service to help first-year apprentices in Red Seal trades connect with opportunities in smaller employers
  • Create at least 85,000 on-the-job learning opportunities through work placements from the non-profit Mitacs
  • Create a Labour Mobility Tax Credit so construction workers can deduct up to $4,000 in travel expenses

Climate and the environment

The Liberals main goal with the environment is to reduce emissions by investing in zero-emission vehicles in Canada, require all plastic packaging in Canada to be made of at least 50% recycled content, and to conserve 30% of Canada's lands and waters.

One thing that the Liberals want to do that other parties haven't mentioned is to create 10 new national parks and 10 new national marine conservation areas in next 5 years. That means more opportunities for hiking and picnics to get away from the stress of school!

What else?

The Liberal party wants to revitalize farmers' markets, main streets, and other local gathering sites which will be great for uptown shopping!

As for the Covid-19 vaccine, the Liberals want to provide everyone with free booster shots and to require all travellers to be fully vaccinated.

Learn what you need to vote in Canada's federal election on September 20.

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Conservative Party of Canada

The Conservative Party of Canada, led by Erin O'Toole, came out swinging this year, releasing a dense, 160 page platform document just two days into the election period. The platform positions O'Toole's Conservatives as practical, down-to-earth, and serious about policy.

But what's in the Conservative platform for you, a student just trying to survive the semester? Let's take a look.

Education

Supporting college and university students is not a big priority for the Conservatives this year — a shame, considering how comprehensive their policy document is. In fact, the platform doesn't even mention students once!

In the same vein, O'Toole makes no mention of cost or tuition, so don't expect any price breaks at school after voting Conservative this time around. At least they don't talk about making school any more expensive, either!

What the Conservative platform does mention is free expression on campus — ardent supporters of free speech, the Conversatives will help promote a more open exchange of ideas in colleges and universities.

Finally, the Conservatives have also promised $30 million per year in additional funding for French-language institutions outside Quebec, including the newly-established Université de l'Ontario français.

Skills training

While college and university may not be big areas of focus for O'Toole's Conservatives, skills training certainly is.

The Conservatives have promised $250 million per year for the Canada Job Training fund, which willl grant money to unions, employers, schools, and other organizations, to help laid-off workers and members of underrepresented groups find meaningful employment. This could help new grads and career-changers make their first moves into the workplace.

The Conservatives have also announced what they call the Working Canadian Training Loan, worth $10,000 for each applicant, that helps people upskill to more future-ready careers — so if you're looking to make a change in your skillset, this program may be helpful.

Jobs

The biggest focus of the Conservatives in the 2021 federal election is jobs, jobs, jobs. O'Toole is committed to restoring the million jobs lost during the pandemic in just a single year.

The Conservatives are also subsidizing new employees based on their previous unemployment — so if you've been out of work for a while, this plan may help you down the line.

These subsidies will also target skills gaps in the trades sector, by encouraging people to pursue apprenticeships and take positions in the trades, strengthening Canada's economy overall.

What else?

Affordable housing is another prominent plank of O'Toole's platform. His goal is to build a million new homes over the course of three years, while paring down the federal government's real estate holdings to permit more housing development.

The Conservatives are pro-pipeline, and will work hard to ensure the Trans Mountain pipeline is expanded and the Keystone XL pipeline is built.

O'Toole won't mandate COVID vaccines for anyone, but will fund rapid testing where necessary, and will invest more in mental health care and Canada's emergency stockpile.

So, if you're thinking about buying your first home, you're considering retraining or upskilling into the skilled trades, or you're looking for a job after a long, rough pandemic, Erin O'Toole's Conservative Party may be for you.

Learn what you need to vote in Canada's federal election on September 20.

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New Democratic Party

The New Democratic Party (NDP) and their leader, Jagmeet Singh, have been increasing in popularity. Their platform focuses on making Canada the best it can be by addressing social, indigenous, racial, and financial issues.

That's a great idea, but what specifically are their plans that could affect you as a student?

Education

The NDP wants to make tuition free, eventually. But until that happens, they want to work with individual provinces to cap and reduce tuition fees.

During the pandemic, the NDP wants to put an immediate stop to student loan payments.

As for student debt, the NDP promises to cancel up to $20,000 per student for their federal loans! That's pretty generous! On top of that, they want to permanently eliminate interest on all federal student loans and ultimately work towards making education more accessible by moving away from loans and doubling non-repayable Canada Student Grants. This is a huge financial break for you as a student!

As for loan repayments, they want to introduce a five-year grace period for new graduates. This is a big increase from the current six months!

Jobs

The NDP wants to make some big changes for the job market that can be beneficial for you!

First, they want to make minimum wage $20 to help guarantee a livable income for all Canadians! If you're working part-time while in school this could help you with your school payments.

They also want to create more than one million jobs! This should help alleviate your stress about finding a job after graduation. Once you find a job, they also want to require large employers to spend at least 1% of payroll to train you!

Another great goal they have is to prioritize gender-based pay equity which will require employers to be transparent about pay!

Climate and the environment

The NDP wants to make public transit fare-free to encourage Canadians to help eliminate emissions by vehicles.

They also want to create an Office of Environmental Justice so that disproportionate impacts of pollution and loss of biodiversity on low-income, racialized, and other marginalized communities can be addressed.

What else?

As for the Covid-19 vaccine, the NDP wants to introduce a vaccine passport to show proof of vaccination.

One interesting issue that NDP wants to address is cell phones and internet prices. They want to put a price cap on cell phone and internet bills while expanding cell coverage and delivering high-speed internet to every Canadian community.

The NDP wants to ensure mental healthcare is available for Canadians without work or school benefits at no cost.

They also want to lower the voting age to 16!

Learn what you need to vote in Canada's federal election on September 20.

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Green Party of Canada

The Green Party of Canada, led by Annamie Paul, is one of Canada's smallest national parties, and Paul is the newest party leader at the federal level. The Greens are generally known for their commitment to helping the environment, reversing climate change, and implementing democratic reforms.

But you're a student, doing your best to survive another September! What's in the Green policy book for you? Let's find out.

Education

The Greens are making a big play for the student vote this year, with a promise to make post-secondary education completely tuition-free. This means college, university, apprenticeship training — whichever route you want to take, the government will support you.

Paul's goal is to tear down barriers to education so all Canadians can reach their full potential in school and at work.

That's not all, though — if you're a former student working on paying down your student loans, there's good news for you too. The Greens have promised to cut all federally-owned student debt, which means your repayments would suddenly be a lot lighter!

Paul's "Education for All" plan is estimated to cost about $10 billion per year, which she says is completely worth every nickel, as Canada lags behind many other rich countries in making post-secondary education available to everyone.

Climate and the environment

Environmental issues are the Greens' bread and butter — after all, that's where their name comes from! Paul's Green Party has put forward an ambitious climate agenda that aims to get the country to zero emissions by 2050.

The party also plans to revamp Canada's industrial sectors to drastically reduce the greenhouse gases emitted, especially in manufacturing and resource extraction.

Jobs

Not surprisingly, the Greens are focused on green investments, meaning most new job gains under a Paul administration would likely be in renewable energy, reclamation, and other environmentally-friendly industries. The Greens also recognize the need to support workers as they retrain for new fields.

Beyond just jobs, though, the Greens are proponents of a "guaranteed livable income." This guaranteed income would be a minimum threshold for a safe and healthy life, available to any Canadian who needs it, no questions asked. This may sound like a utopic notion, but the idea is growing in popularity, and there's evidence that it works to keep people healthier and happier.

What else?

The Greens' National Housing Strategy focuses on rental housing, rather than ownership, which may be a refreshing change if you're in no position to take on a mortgage.

The Greens are also working to end colonialism and rebuild relationships with Canada's Indigenous peoples, while supporting democratic reform at the national level. Paul also wants to implement a national pharmacare and dental care plan to help struggling families with their medical bills.

So, if you're sick of high tuition costs and student loan payments, you're concerned about climate change, or you're ready for a new path forward alongside Canada's Indigenous communities, Annamie Paul's Green Party may be for you.

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Bloc Québécois

The Bloc Québécois party (Bloc), run by Yves-François Blanchet, is a smaller party that focuses primarily on issues regarding Quebec.

If you are a student in Quebec, these are the pieces of their platform that could affect you.

Education

The Bloc want to provide greater financing for university research. This could increase your opportunity to assist on major research projects!

They also want to increase funding to provinces and territories to help pay for post-secondary education.

Jobs

As for jobs in Canada, the Bloc wishes to suspend CRB, a financial aid program that helped Canadians during the pandemic, while making sure it can be reactivated if necessary and remain active for heavily impacted sectors.

They also want to hire more workers for long-term cares which is great if you're in a healthcare program!

Climate and environment

The Bloc wants to help eliminate emissions from Canada by supporting the transition to green energies and continuing to demand an end to subsidies for fossil fuels.

What else?

The main interest of the Bloc is Quebec. So, most of their platform discusses how to help la belle province. Here are some of their ideas to address the concerns in Quebec:

  • They want to introduce a bill making sufficient knowledge of French a condition to obtain citizenship in Quebec
  • To oppose censorship and promote free speech
  • They want stronger and more severe sentences for crimes related to femicide, violence against women, and domestic violence
  • To increase restriction of illegal guns and parts in Canada

Learn what you need to vote in Canada's federal election on September 20.

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Closing thoughts

Now that you have a better idea on what each political party stands for, it's time to vote! Remember, Election Day is September 20!

Whichever party wins the election, there will be changes that affect you as a student, so make sure you have a say in your education! Not sure what the next steps are? Check out our article on How to Vote in the Upcoming Canadian Federal Election.


Visit Elections Canada and vote!

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