Federal Election 2011: What Is Each Political Party Promising Young Canadians?


Young Canadians have a lot at stake in the upcoming federal election on May 2, 2011.

But after watching the leaders’ debates and attack ads, it’s not always clear which candidates or party has your best interests at heart.

And, let’s be honest, few politicians understand how to appeal to youth.

You can wait to vote until election day, May 2, or you can vote in advance polls on Friday, April 22; Saturday, April 23 and Monday, April 25.

Analyzing each party’s platform can be time consuming, so we’ve created a breakdown of what each party has promised students and young professionals when it comes to education and employment.

But first, here’s a bit of info about how to vote in the 41st general election:

You may vote in this federal election if you are a Canadian citizen, will be 18 or older on election day, Monday, May 2, 2011, and are registered to vote.

Not sure if you’re registered? Check out the instructions on the Elections Canada website.

If you’re a student and you live away from home to attend school, you can choose to vote in either your “home” riding (i.e., where your parents live) or your school riding. You just need to register to vote in one of those ridings, and show proof of your address and your identity.

Also, you can wait to vote until election day, May 2, or you can vote in advance polls on Friday, April 22; Saturday, April 23 and Monday, April 25.


The Liberal Party of Canada

Leader: Michael Ignatieff (@M_Ignatieff)


  • The Learning Passport
    • Post-secondary bursary of $1,000 a year over four years for every high school student ($1,500 a year for low-income families) to go toward college of university
    • Students must have certain marks to qualify

“A Liberal government will create new incentives to hire youth, new opportunities to gain valuable volunteer experience at home and abroad, and change our politics so that it directly engages young Canadians.” (source)

  • $1,500 in Canada Student Loans will be forgiven for young Canadians who donate at least 150 hours of service a year in a Canada Service Corps position
  • Funding for Aboriginal post-secondary education will be increased by $200 million over the next two years
  • A new national Métis scholarship program will be established to help Métis students access post-secondary education


  • A Youth Hiring Initiative will give small and medium-sized businesses a 100% rebate on Employment Insurance premiums for every young Canadian hired, creating up to 170,000 new jobs
  • New tax incentives will boost investment and create jobs in start-up businesses in the clean resources, health and biosciences and digital technologies industries
  • Student loan debt will be forgiven for doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners who practice in rural Canadian communities

Visit the official Liberal Party of Canada website at liberal.ca or click here to read the official platform.

The Conservative Party of Canada

Leader: Stephen Harper (@pmharper)


  • 30 Industrial Research Chairs will be established at colleges and polytechnics so that students can interact with innovative researchers
  • Partnerships between college and university researchers and students will be supported through Canada’s research granting councils

“I think the most important thing we want to do for students is to make sure our economy is strong so they will have jobs when they leave school in the fields they’re studying.” (source)

  • The Canada Student Loans Program will be enhanced for part-time students
  • A portion of federal student loans will be forgiven for those who agree to practice in under-served rural or remote areas


  • Increased training, trade and low taxes will help create jobs for unemployed Canadians
  • The work exemption from Canada Student Loans Program will be doubled so students can benefit more from part-time employment
  • A Hiring Credit for Small Businesses will be introduced (a one-year EI break for 525,000 small businesses)
  • Support will be extended for the Canada Youth Business Foundation
  • Adult basic education programming in the territories will help increase education and employment levels in Canada’s northern regions
  • The purchase of the F-35 fighter jets will strengthen the Canadian Armed Forces and support thousands of jobs for Canadian aerospace workers
  • The Mineral Exploration Tax Credit will be extended to help sustain and create jobs in the Canadian mining industry

Visit the official Conservative Party of Canada website at conservative.ca or click here to read the official platform.

The New Democratic Party of Canada

Leader: Jack Layton (@JackLayton)


  • A transfer of $800 million to the provinces and territories will lower post-secondary education fees
  • Funding to the Canada Student Grants Program will be increased by $200 million a year, targeting accessibility for Aboriginal, disabled and low-income students

“We will make post-secondary education more affordable by directly attacking skyrocketing tuition costs with a designated $800 million transfer to the provinces and territories to lower tuition fees, as per the NDP’s Post Secondary Education Act.” (source)

  • The education tax credit will be raised from $4,800 per year to $5,760 per year
  • Provincial programs will focus on recruiting and supporting low-income, rural and Aboriginal medical students
  • $1 billion per year will be put toward the education deficit for the next four years


  • The federal minimum wage law will be re-introduced
  • Employment Insurance stimulus measures will continue until unemployment returns to pre-recession levels
  • The small business tax rate will be reduced from 11% to 9%
  • A Job Creation Tax Credit will give companies $4,500 per new hire
    • Employers will receive a one-year rebate on the employer contributions for the Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance premiums for each new employee hired
    • Companies that keep a new employee for 12 months or more will be eligible for a retention bonus: a $1,000 non-refundable tax credit
  • Tradespeople and apprentices who work at least 80 km away from home will receive a tax reduction for travel and accommodation costs
  • 1,200 new doctors will be trained over the next 10 years; 6,000 new training spaces will be made available for nurses over the next six years; and the number of training spaces for other health care professionals will substantially increase
  • Green energy engineers, technicians, construction workers, maintenance and audit professionals will have access to an increased number of training programs
  • Eligibility for the Mineral Exploration Tax will be extended for three years
  • 200 new food inspectors will be hired for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to increase food safety
  • 2,500 new police officers will eventually be hired across Canada
  • A pro-active pay equity regime will be established

Visit the official New Democrat Party website here at ndp.ca or click here to read the official platform.

Bloc Quebecois

Leader: Gilles Duceppe (@GillesDuceppe)


  • A tax credit will be implemented for young graduates who decide to work in a rural region
  • Post-secondary education transfers wil be increased


“L’engagement et la contribution actuelle des jeunes à la vitalité du mouvement souverainiste sont garants de l’avenir de notre cause.” (source)

  • Changes to the Canada Labour Code will allow for the precautionary cessation of work and ban scabs
  • The forestry industry will be supported and further developed
  • Fishermen affected by the financial crisis will be supported
  • A new bill will be tabled to ensure that Bill 101, which affirms the right of all Quebec workers to work in French, applies to companies of federal jurisdiction

Visit the official Bloc Quebecois website at blocquebecois.org or click here to read the official platform.

Green Party of Canada

Leader: Elizabeth May (@ElizabethMay)


  • A municipal youth employment program and tuition credit will be implemented
  • Post-secondary education bursaries will be increased
  • First Nations education will improve

“Young people deserve a quality education that doesn’t leave them with a debt sentence. Today students are hit by a double penalty, where they must pay onerous tuition fees and then interest on the money they were forced to borrow to pay for tuition. To make matters worse, this is at a financially vulnerable point of most students’ lives.” (source)


  • Thousands of jobs will be created through investment in renewable energy, expanding passenger rail and modernizing freight and refitting thousands of buildings to high standards for energy efficiency
  • EI and Canada Pension Plan contributions for businesses will be reduced and access to employment insurance will be expanded
  • More Canadians will work fewer hours
  • It will be easier to telecommute or work from home with flexible hours
  • Forestry workers will be re-trained

Visit the official Green Party website at greenparty.ca or click here to read the official platform.

Make an informed decision before you vote! Together, youth have the power to choose a bright future for Canada.

What issues are important to you? Who are you going to vote for? Do you think the parties are going far enough to help students finance their education and then help them transition into meaningful employment? Tell us what you think in the comments!


Photo credits:
Michael Ignatieff’s 20/11 Tour: Liberal meet and greet with Hamilton area Liberals by Mark Ungar on Flickr
Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper addresses the worlds media by London Summit on Flickr
Jack Layton, Leaders Tour – Tournée du Chef – Dartmouth Rally by Matt Jiggins on Flickr
Bloc Québécois launches Parlons Qc campaign theme by Matthew Burpee on Flickr
Elizabeth May at Pride 2008 by Shaun Merritt on Flickr
About the author

Erin MacFarlane is a recent graduate of Queen’s University, where she majored in Political Studies. Currently enrolled in the Public Relations program at Humber College, she loves experimenting with new forms of media and hopes to one day become as influential as her idol, Barack Obama. Check out her blog, pr chatter.