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Ontario NDP to unveil tax credit for caregivers

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath speaks during an election rally in Kitchener, Ont, on May 16.


New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath is expected to promise a family caregiver tax credit when she unveils her platform Thursday morning, The Globe and Mail has learned.

The credit, which would provide $1,275 annually to people caring for an ill or aging family member at home, is part of Ms. Horwath's attempt to position the NDP as the party of the "middle class," in a bid to broaden its base of support.

The measure, an NDP source said, would be primarily targeted at the so-called "sandwich generation" of baby boomers who must care for their parents while raising their own children. It is designed to help alleviate the demographic crunch of an aging population by keeping people out of costly long-term care as long as possible.

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Ms. Horwath is the last of the party leaders to roll out her plan for the province ahead of the June 12 vote. She is scheduled to make the announcement at 10.30 a.m. at Hart House at the University of Toronto, across the street from the legislature.

So far, the NDP has campaigned on bread-and-butter pocketbook promises, eschewing the grand plans of the other two major parties.

Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne is essentially campaigning on her budget – which Ms. Horwath rejected – including a new provincial pension plan to provide extra retirement savings on top of the Canada Pension Plan and $29-billion for public transit expansion.

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, meanwhile, has promised to swiftly bring the budget to balance by cutting 100,000 jobs in the public sector. He is also pledging a massive corporate tax cut and to reduce personal income taxes by 10 per cent, measures he says will create one million jobs. Mr. Hudak has been rolling his policy out for the last two years.

Ms. Horwath's promises so far have included $100 hydro rebates and a pledge to cut hospital wait times in half, in part by opening new, 24-hour health clinics.

On Wednesday, she pledged $60-million to help community organisations run recreational activities in underused schools.

The caregiver tax credit looks set to continue that pocketbook thread.

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The credit will not be income-tested – meaning people of all financial means can qualify for it – and fully-refundable, allowing low-income people who pay too little tax to claim the credit to still get a cash payout, the source said.

Ms. Horwath is expected to estimate the credit, which would be available starting next year, would cost $230-million in its first year, rising to $260-million by 2018-19.

Although the credit would be primarily aimed at people with aging parents, it would be available to anyone caring for an ill relative or child, the source said. It would be available to people caring for up to three dependents, so the maximum payout is $3825 per year per caregiver.

Other provinces, including Quebec, Nova Scotia and Manitoba already provide similar credits.

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