Duelling War Rooms: Ignatieff’s RESP thing redux


The Conservative and Liberal war rooms both signed up for a second round of the debate that kicked off below. Here they go again. What follows is in the two parties’ words, verbatim as they sent them, not my arguments:

The Conservative Reply:

The evolution of Ignatieff’s education policy scramble:

9:00 am – Michael Ignatieff announces what he and senior Liberals call “a game changer”

11:15 am – Michael Ignatieff’s war room says the Liberal platform announcement needs “tweaking” after reporters raise questions about whether CEGEP students, who pay less in tuition than Ignatieff’s proposed program, would make a profit off Ignatieff’s Liberal program.

1:29 pm – Michael Ignatieff’s war room makes another policy amendment on the fly when it becomes clear his policy would, if implemented, make many students ineligible for Canada Student Loans or Canada Student Grants. They announce that the “value of the passport is excluded for the purpose of calculating a STUDENT’S ASSETS” for grants and loans.

3:25 PM – Yet another Michael Ignatieff policy scramble as the Liberals announce the “passport would not count against FAMILY INCOME for student loan calculations.” Still no word on what guarantees they can provide that provinces and territories will make the same changes to their student loan and grant programs, or whether Ignatieff’s program will make students involuntarily ineligible for means-tested scholarship programs. Nor has Ignatieff explained how the low-income portion of his policy will be delivered through RESPs, which currently don’t require banks to obtain information on family income for the purposes of administering them.

The Ignatieff Liberals are clearly making up policy on the fly to cover his many oversights. There are several other questions that must be answered in this Ignatieff policy mess:

1) How will their latest policy “tweaks” impact the overall cost of this new program? When will Ignatieff come clean on the true cost of the program? Does he even know?

2) If they are planning to exempt these funds from the asset calculation for student loans and grants, have they consulted with provinces and territories on coordinating the treatment of provincial/territorial loans and grants? Will they repay any provinces and territories that see cost increases as a result of this new policy?

3) Banks already find RESPs to be administratively onerous. If Michael Ignatieff plans to introduce a new income-tested grant for some students administered through RESPs, can he guarantee that no banks will stop offering RESPs altogether due to the greater administrative burden of Ignatieff’s policy, which will require them to collect family income information for RESP purposes? Have the Liberals consulted to make sure that banks will continue to offer RESPs with these new, more onerous requirements?

4) How will the funds from Ignatieff’s program be separated from other funds in an RESP contributed by a student or his/her parent? If the student doesn’t go to school, who gets to keep the interest on the entire RESP amount? How does the money get repaid to government?

5) Michael Ignatieff’s plan will take away the Education and Textbook tax credits that benefit students and families. Why is Michael Ignatieff choosing to fund his new $1-billion program by raising taxes on students and their families by $700 million?


The Liberal Response:

It is clear that the Conservative know they cannot argue against the Learning Passport on the substance.

1. Fortunately, there are many in Canada who understand better than the Conservatives how our student financial assistance programs actually work. As a result, The Learning Passport has received endorsements from the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ), and la Fédération des associations étudiantes du campus de l’Université de Montréal (FAÉCUM).

2. The Conservatives are desperate to attack something they didn’t have the imagination or vision to produce themselves. They should go back to making promises that wouldn’t be delivered until 2015 and later.





Filed under:

Duelling War Rooms: Ignatieff’s RESP thing redux

  1. The Learning Passport has received endorsements from the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ), and la Fédération des associations étudiantes du campus de l'Université de Montréal (FAÉCUM).

    So, a plan to give students $1000 a year is endorsed by…a bunch of students.


  2. LOL Bravo!

  3. The times they are a changing. Did you catch the tory run CTV news tonight? The top story was not about the election. Shows that the tories are scrambling and their 'press' is shifting focus. Then the CBC exposed that the so called 2008 'Coalition' was NOT signed by the Bloc. The whole coalition thing is back firing on Harper. Now lets here some more name calling, slander, fear mongering. "The angry white men" are losing it. Canadians are getting the real Tory story.
    ON MAY 2

  4. Why is Michael Ignatieff choosing to fund his new $1-billion program by raising taxes on students and their families by $700 million?

    Bull Meter – What say you?

  5. Well they aren't a bunch of kids if that's what you're trying to imply…grown adults.

  6. Did they really?? Fantastic!

  7. That was the best the Liberal war room came up with? Ouch.

  8. No endorsment from the Canadian Federation of Students I notice. They represent over 500,000 students in Canada….but at least this is policy we can debate, and not more rhetoric and scare tactics about a supposed coalition.

  9. I think the folks in the Liberal camp are learning.
    KIS Keep It Simple

    the Cons sound like those pointy head officials who invent administrivia to deny you whatever

  10. Have to say, it takes a certain amount of huevos grandes to say this:

    "1) How will their latest policy “tweaks” impact the overall cost of this new program? When will Ignatieff come clean on the true cost of the program? Does he even know?"

    When the whole reason we're in an election is because the Conservative government was found in contempt of Parliament for not disclosing the costs of their legislative agenda.

  11. The fact that this program that is NOTHING LIKE an RESP is being forced into the RESP is just weird.

    The Liberal statement on the web site earlier today had bupkus, but The National report clarified that the "contributions" at ages 14, 15, 16 and 17 are a silly meaningless shell game. There is no interest to accumulate because the money is not even there. It's basically a grand per year of post-secondary education. Really, at this rate they should just get the university to send in the social insurance numbers of their students. University rebates the thousand bucks tuition, and Ottawa sends the university $850,000, or whatever. But that would be too simple.

  12. LOL no it's not.

    It's done this way because the structure already exists….there is no need for a new bureaucracy.

  13. No, there is a very good reason for doing it through RESPs — to get people to open RESPs. Part of the problem with these tax-sheltered savings plans, which are a good deal and encourage savings for education, is that people weren't making use of them. Which you can understand, particularly for lower-income families. By offering money for students through the RESPs, you encourage people to open the accounts and, hopefully, once the accounts are open, to save some money in them. And these accounts can remain good and useful for lifelong learning — but only if people actually use them.

    By structuring the policy this way, the attempt is to make two, individually, good education-funding policies (encourage savings and give a tax break for it, and direct transfers to students) into more than the sum of their parts by having them be self-reinforcing.

  14. "Hey! The anonymous executive committees of some student organizations like our plan! And you guys suck, anyhow".

    The Libs really kicked ass and took names on that one.

  15. You make an interesting case for lying to Canadians that $4,000 is accumulating in the kid's name when, in fact, it isn't.

  16. "Then the CBC exposed that the so called 2008 'Coalition' was NOT signed by the Bloc"

    Ummmmmmm, this was a secret?

  17. Stated another way, under Michael Ignatieff, the Liberals are in even worse shape going into an election in Quebec than they were under Stéphane Dion in September 2008, when they were at 16 per cent.

  18. Considering Liberals will not answer these questions. I think someone should ask these groups to answer it for them.
    Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ), and la Fédération des associations étudiantes du campus de l'Université de Montréal (FAÉCUM).

  19. Can you just look at this as a policy, for a second, without seeing it through some reality-distorting partisan looking glass? Had your "team" proposed this, would you still be saying the same silly things as if they meant something?

    No one is going to be "lied" to — it's their own accounts, they get the balance if they look online. They get the money _through_ the RESP _if_ they open one. How hard is that to understand? And is it really so challenging to see the policy benefits of this? For pity sake, doing things through "personalized savings accounts" is a tradiationally *right wing* approach to funding things — look at the attempts in the states to push retirement and health-care funding this way — and sometimes it makes sense. This is a perfectly reasonable approach to a worthy policy goal, and hyperventilating makes _you_, not the policy, look a little loopy.

  20. It piggybacks on an existing bureaucracy for: depositing funds (when they are deposited after the 4 years, drawing on the funds, verifying that the funds are being drawn for qualifying education, returned to the government if not used, etc.

    It makes a ton of sense, even if you don't like the program.

  21. It was apparently kept from Harper….he's been screaming 'coaltion with the separatists' for ages now.

  22. Thank you. Well put.

  23. Today was a policy announcement. The full policy with details and costing will be out at the end of the week.

  24. These bloody Ivy league professors are so out of touch with people other than students Tthey all try and act like are Mr Cool they are as young as the bunch they teach.These kids will be so damn happy and so will the college bars near the universities.I wonder what a thousand a year tax free would do for the parent who has kids in primary school.What would it do for and old ill person trying to survive on small pensions.Five years ago a survey was carried out it found out that kids who go for the trades end up making bigger money as those who get a degree in arts who usually end up working in the local fast food outlet.Talk to any of them and they will tell you they had a blast in university,party time from day one and most have no idea how or when they will ever pay back the student loan or should i say a forgiving loan from us taxpayers..when you educate yourcountry you alao mst have an idea of how to employ them,

  25. Nice example of hyperventilating, Jonathan. Here, you'll need this paper bag. Not that you (should) care, but if you do, click through my Intense Debate history to read around to get a grip on my partisanship.

    I get the policy.

    The policy is to undo a couple of tax credits and to jack up corporate taxation in order to rebate education expenses at a grand per year of postsecondary education (for up to four years). Rebates that get "telegraphed" (but nothing else) during the student's teen years.

    The policy is to lie to Canadians that the money is "just sitting there" during high school waiting to be magically unlocked later. And why lie to them? To encourage their parents to pony up some of their own money into the kid's RESP, because they wouldn't decide to do so unless they were lied to.

    The policy is to show them "the balance" of non-existent money that earns no interest or investment growth because it does not yet exist.

    The policy is to "administer" these non-existent dollars through the RESP program, but using rules that in no way follow the current rules of the RESP program.

    The "personalized savings accounts" are pretty much EXACTLY what the RESP and CESG are. This "Passport" is a shell game. It might be a virtuous shell game. Maybe it is good policy to lie to Canadians. And I suppose I am not helping by looking behind the curtain like this, if that is the express policy. I just happen to be a fan of the truth. Sue me.

  26. There is NO DEPOSIT. If the kid doesn't go to college, there is NO RECLAIM. The funds are fictional for years until the student pays tuition. It's all an exercise in deception, administered by a federal bureaucracy.

    Phony Passport "redemption" follows rules that are NOT AT ALL like the truthful redemption rules of the EAP.

    The only thing that looks like the RESP is that if the kid doesn't go to school, the government swallows these non-existent dollars as they clawback the real CESG contributions from earlier years, and the contributor hopefully has enough RRSP contribution room to park the personal contribution component.

    And I might even like the program! It kills off a couple of lines in the "tax credit" column of our income tax forms. And maybe this country has reached the point where lying to our kids is peachy. But make no mistake: those dollars that "appear" during each of four years of high school are bogus.

  27. Well, the Conservatives' criticism is that it wouldn't actually help students, so that endorsement is meaningful in that context. If the Conservatives' objection was that it was too costly, for example, you'd be quite right not to put much weight in the student organizations' endorsement.

  28. You have a problem with young adults? Because that's what they are, adults. I don't know of any kids in university or trade schools.

  29. The CFS is typically pretty hard-line on demanding direct tuition reductions, so the lack of endorsement may be on account of that. It's also possible that they just haven't gotten their ducks in a row yet, since the announcement just came out today.

    Anyway, CFS is normally well to the left of the groups listed, so it's unlikely that their lack of endorsement reflects sympathy for the Conservative position.

  30. The CPC doesn't seem capable of sticking to actual information and they include so much spin (such as more information being a change – maybe it's just more information) that it's difficult to find the content (assuming there is some) in their propaganda. But they do seem pretty worried about this. Maybe they will be worried about every announcement. from the Liberals.

  31. The CFS is typically pretty hard-line on demanding direct tuition reductions, so the lack of endorsement may be on account of that. It's also possible that they just haven't gotten their ducks in a row yet, since the announcement just came out today.

  32. Apologies for the double post – I don't know why, but none of my comments seem to show up for me until I've duplicated them.

  33. Well, there are plenty of 17 year olds, if we want to split hairs; now we can debate whether "kid" has a meaning distinct from "minor", and "adult" can mean something other than "someone having achieved the age of majority".

  34. It's a little comical that some are arguing the Liberals haven't answered all their questions with regard to this education initiative yet, when they only announce it today. Yet Harper will only answer 5 prescreened questions a day, and he has much more explaining to do to the Canadian people than Mr.Ignatieff!

    I like where there going with Education policy. It's a step in the right direction. I'm looking forward to what else their planning to bring forward this week!

  35. Cons of the 'best plane, only plane' rationalization for spending billions taking on a Liberal policy. Seriously?

  36. Yes, that 5 restricted questions makes one wonder why it is so easy to restrict Canadian press and why they put up with it. What happens to them if they ask a question and publish "refused to answer"? That would seem the more honest way to go. But at least some journalists were honest enough to tell us about this situation.

  37. The negative impression of Gar's post was kids= young punks.

  38. Apparently it was a secret to the CPC and their minions.

  39. It's not like trying to explain it to the Cons hasn't been attempted…

  40. They want tuition controls too. Here's their main point:

    The Liberal proposal to commit an additional $1 billion in non-repayable student financial aid would provide much needed assistance to students and their families. However, without a larger vision to address increasing tuition fees, the funding provided through the "Learning Passport" will be continually eroded.

  41. I see you read the ad on Craig's List.

  42. Sigh.

  43. This isn't a duel … it's children playing pick up sticks with soggy licorice … Neither Libs nor Cons were actually prepared for this election it would seem, and this? This is the best they can come up with?

  44. Because tuition is a provincial responsibility, the issue going to require something like Martin's Health Accord.

  45. Seeing as you cannot answer you must not be part of the "many in Canada who understand better".

  46. Why am I supposed to answer it at all….I merely told you what was said on here this morning …it's right on the board.

  47. Just how will the recipients cash in these non existent $ and pay for their very much existent education costs? You need to elaborate further because you're making no sense to this RESP contributer. The personalizes SA are NOT exactly what RESPs are at all. The RESPs recieve a 20% grant from the feds, up to a certain maximum.
    But i think JD is wrong on one count. They are not tax sheltered – at least not for me.

  48. It's a tuition rebate plan. That's all it is. That is several hundred dollars more generous than the (disappearing) income tax credits.

    Drawing numbers and dollar signs on a piece of paper or in an on-line "account" while the kid is popping zits in grade nine is a meaningless exercise in bureaucratic window-dressing falsehood. Excuse me. Make that a costly and meaningless exercise in bureaucratic window-dressing falsehood. Except for the lie-that-might-encourage-RESP-contributions bit that Jonathan highlights. I guess he cannot see anyone conclude that this phony gift to the teen might justify a decreased contribution from the parent.

  49. "4) How will the funds from Ignatieff's program be separated from other funds in an RESP contributed by a student or his/her parent? If the student doesn't go to school, who gets to keep the interest on the entire RESP amount? How does the money get repaid to government"

    If the rest of the cons objections are as dumb as this one, why bother. Why do the funds need to be separated at all – the student can't cash in his or her RESP until their 17 or 18.
    My bank is a pain in the ass. They wont open say a GIC until you contribute at least $500. So the money has to sit in the money market for a month or two until it's rolled into the instument of my choice. I really can't see how a yearly deposit is going to be a big deal for the banks.As for repayment – there is already an existing mechanism within the RESP programme if your kid opts not to go to school.
    In away i hope the libs don't answer. It seems they're using the CPC's own tactics against them: Make your opponent give longwinded replys, while you keep yours short and snappy and hope no one asks too many questions. Is it right? Hell no! Do the CPC deserve it? Hell yes!

  50. Except that the 2 Independent MPs voted with the Government.

    So 3 parties voted against 1 party and 2 Independents voted with Government. 3 vs 3

    And why does Mr. Ignatieff refer to jets and prisons in the budget when neither are in the budget?

  51. I hope they target your spelling… : )

  52. Perhaps a more helpful answer would be to get you to look at your kid at fourteen, and fifteen, and sixteen, and seventeen. A thousand dollars suddenly arrive from nowhere on a statement in your kid's name. At this point, the Liberals are telling us you have to have an RESP for this to work (but you don't have to contribute to one — oh goody, here's another box with nothing in it…), so I guess your financial institution will have to play along with Santa and show this, um, asset, somewhere on your statement.

    Of what value is the thousand dollars to you, or your kid, in the year it's issued? Nil. Did Ottawa cut a cheque to anybody? No. Will they have to invoice anyone later if your kid doesn't go to post-secondary? Nope. It is all an illusion until the first tuition bill is paid.

  53. Can't speak to your first point.Although i think the libs have at least denied it is just a shell game. But i usually run this sort of thing by the infinitely more qualified spouse[ teacher] who isn't all that political[ no time] and she thinks the might encourage to contribute idea is a good one [ in particular the one aimed at the poor folks]. As for a decreased contribution – that's absurd.

  54. Smith: Well john at least it has engaged young people in the election.

    john g: Yes, Stewart we now have a bunch of student politicians interested in politics…. Shocker.

    Smith: point conceded.

  55. They're more like TFSAs than RRSPs — you don't get tax deductions for contributing, but the interest isn't taxed as it accumulates. When you pull the money out, you _do_ get taxed — but if you're a full-time student at the time, you're probably not making any income to speak of, so you're mostly exempt. I'd like to see RESPs become better deals for doing part-time studies, eventually.

  56. They're amounts of money that you're eligible to recieve through the RESP if you go to college or University. It's a benefit you can cash out if you choose to. How is that bogus, or lying?

  57. The money is there if you choose to go to college or University. How is this a lie?

    And yes, the personalized savings accounts _are_ exactly what the RESPs are, and this is an incentive to open one, as if you have one you'll get an extra $4k/$6k towards education costs. Again, how is this a lie? Are you seriously telling us that the form of statements you haven't yet seen from unknown banks aren't honest enough for you?

  58. With the passing 24 hrs, it seems your previous (quite legitimate) objection that this could lead to a $4k 1 year party fest is gone, but now this latest seems like inaccurate quibbling to me. Quibbling because I suspect you are really just displeased that the Liberal party continues to ignore this or even this ( which they shoved down our collective throats!) Overspending on jets is simply overspending, investing in students is unconstitutional!

    Inaccurate, because your preferred process would actually be pretty expensive for the universities to administer.
    1) Even though the vast majority of students would be eligible, every single case would have to be reviewed to ensure compliance with regulations.
    2) The low-income provision would dramatically complicate 1)
    So although it sounds simpler to just move the money directly to the universities it would actually be harder. Under the current scheme those administrative costs are carried by the nasty banks, which is at least a decent use of their ill-gotten booty obtained from outrageous interest rates.

  59. So, imagine some parents are contributing, contributing, kid gets to high school and magically there's an extra thousand bucks from the government there….hmmmmm, sure would be nice to go to the poconos this year honey, but things are a little tight….well, the government gave a grand to little susy, let's stop our contribution and pack our bags!

    There's one of many (many!) possible scenarios (and probably not even the most likely one – I mean the poconos? c'mon) in which there is a decrease in the parents contribution as a direct result of the government contribution.

  60. Oh wow. Hours after so many on here claimed that the Conservatives were thumped on this issue during the first round of exchanges, the Liberals come up empty on the second round. Again, if the Liberals can't even get a long-awaited policy plank in the platform correct, how can they be expected to govern? Well, the usual suspects on here will come up with some doozies in defence. That's for sure. lol

  61. Sign of bias number 43:

    The media will scrutinize Harper directly, saying there is this or that problem with what he's saying.

    Rather than directly criticizing Iggy's policies, they will put it through the "Conservatives say" or "Conservatives allege" – it's just another partisan attack filter.

    Watch for it, it happens all the time.

  62. No, it engaged organized student groups. There's a big difference.

  63. Wow, you're endorsing Conservative triumph in this round. Bravo! lol

  64. CBC's the National said that this "$1000 for all high school students for post-secondary education which gets put in their bank accounts for the 4 years before attending"

    1. Students get it only after starting university (it does not go in their bank accounts and collect interest) and it is not dolled out in a lump some it is $1000 for every year in school up to 4 years.

    2. It replaces an existing grant so its not $1000 new dollars a year. It is a little over $400…relatively small potatoes for such 'innovative policy'

  65. Here's also a fun one:

    Iggy's attack on a Harper policy will actually preceed the policy announcment, so you actually have to read through the attack first. Whereas Iggy's policy announcements are given full airing on their own – nice, free, scrutiny free advertising.

    So many,

    So many.

    The media – which is overwhelmingly left leaning, is going "all in" in actively advocating to stop a majority conservative government.

    Query what would happen to other professionals, if they put their personal desires ahead of the job at hand. Imagine a doctor, for instance, who decided not to treat a patient a certain way because of his personal ideological beliefs.

    Of course many would argue that journalists bear none of the hallmarks of true professionals. I think they would be right.

  66. "As for repayment – there is already an existing mechanism within the RESP programme if your kid opts not to go to school."

    You don't get anything from Iggy put into your RESP unless the student enrolls in university. Here is what CBC said about this:

    "So, let's say you are a 16-year-old high school student planning to go to the University of British Columbia in 2013. How do you get your hands on the money? The short answer is – you don't. Not right away and not while you are still in high school. For future students, this grant acts more like an IOU or promissory note. You don't receive a single dollar until your first day of school, at a college, university or CEGEP, when the $1,000 is released to your Registered Educational Savings Plan. You will receive another $1,000 the following year, up to a maximum of four years. That means you cannot collect interest or accumulate savings with this plan. And if you end up not going to school, you don't get a cent."

  67. Do you still really not get that the dollars do not really exist while the fruit of your loins is in high school? Or are YOU the partisan hack trying desperately to defend the deception?

  68. Do you really not get that the dollars do not really exist while the fruit of your loins is in high school?

    Oh, and point taken on the complexity of the low-income differential. So rather than add up a complex list of numbers (because some are a thousand, some are fifteen hundred, maybe many are in between) and writing one cheque, we shall now individually review each case and write hundreds of thousands of cheques, because this latter idea is indeed the simpler one.

  69. But the best examples of course, come from the mouths of the "journalists" themselves,

    in their "tweets" their blog posts etc.

    It's difficult to tell the difference between a raving leftist commenter, like many on this thread, and the professional…..ahem….journalist.

    Because they all inhabit the same world, have all the same leftist friends, and all of their colleagues are leftist, they think they are being "objective". Harper being evil, is as true as the Earth being round.

    Then comes the polling approval numbers. What's the media narrative on that? Well the public is being tricked by (using the words of a recent "respectable" Globe columnist) CPC "smoke and mirrors".

    That's right, the ignorant public just MUST be wrong….fooled by the evil CPC. Funny, but if you go to a CPC rally, you'll hear Harper list of a long list of accomplishments (even though the media is there, they'd dare not report those very true facts, lowering the GST to name just one of many). It couldn't be those accomplishments, no. The public is being duped.

  70. btw, I just saw a clip of Iggy's appearance at Sheridan College in Oakville. He said that this billion dollar program is on top of what the federal government already does for students. However, given the criticisms of the program, Iggy's claim clearly appears to be false. In some respects, the Liberals are giving with one hand, and taking from the other. On top of that, they don't even seem to have a clue as to how the hands are supposed to interact with one another in the first place – in conjunction with the provinces.

    I wonder if this will make Maclean's "Bull Meter" or if Wherry runs that thing. lol

  71. Cash out? I guess you still really don't get that the dollars do not really exist while the fruit of your loins is in high school.

  72. I've got terrible news for you, friend. Canada Pension Plan stuff, which one sometimes gets a "statement" describing what you're eligible for? Not actually in a bag of money somewhere with your name on it. EI? Not actually in an account with your account number. Medicare? If you take your health card to the bank, you'll find there's no actual cash there you can withdraw.

    No one's lying here except you. You get the money _through_ the RESP. HS students are eligible for $1k per year of highschool, which (a) encourages high school completion, (b) encourages RESP account formation, and (c) subsidizes PSE. If someone, some day, issues a statement that makes it look like the cash is in the account accumulating interest, I'll agree with you that it's a poorly designed document. But *that* *hasn't* *happened*, and I know that because the *statements* *don't* *even* *exist* *yet*.

    But I admire your delicate soul. If these _potential_, _possible_, _future_ innacuracies in *banking statements* bother you so badly, I shudder to think what the election campaign must be doing to you. What Harper is saying about parliamentary democracy and the "illegitimacy" of coalition governments must be driving you to tears. Poor thing.

  73. Organized student's associations are well known for being overwhelmingly left leaning, and hence hostile to Harper.

    Chances are if Iggy proposed Satan be brought from the underworld to administer our Universities, they'd find a way to support the initiative.

  74. Of course the dollars *exist* (what, the government poofs them into existance?). They are transfered at time of use, given eligability requirements. Which makes it exactly like EI, CPP, Medicare, etc. The mechanism for delivery of the dollars is the RESP. Seriously, it's not that complicated.

  75. US Social Security is indeed a dishonest shell game. CPP, at least, has some real investments. EI is (allegedly) an insurance product, so if you think it should distress me that every policy holder has to share the risk pool rather than sit on a bag of gold coins, then you don't get insurance, either. Medicare is an insurance product, see above.

    I have repeatedly stated that Harper is offering his highest compliments to the legal legitimacy of coalition governments by warning Canadians it might actually happen.

    Got anything else?

  76. They're a bit like TFSAa and a bit like a spousal RRSP. I would guess more like a spousal RRSP. Contributor puts in $, and government offers an instant reward for the contribution (tax deduction for the RRSP, CESG for the RESP). Cashout is taxed in the hands of the beneficiary.

    Something I haven't seen, maybe I missed it: The Learning Passport tuition fee rebate: will that also count as taxable income in the hands of the student? Or maybe it will reduce the tuition fee deduction on the income taxes? I have heard from news reports (not the LIberal release, but from news reports) that the education and textbook amounts will disappear; I guess the tuition fee deduction stays?

    Final point that Jonathan will no doubt love enough to reach for that paper bag: the Passport payment does not count as taxable income; here we have yet one more feature that makes it nothing like the RESP…

  77. Putting them down on a piece of paper years before they actually exist is the dishonest complication. At least you are coming around to the concept of the deception. I respond to your "exactly like" other taxpayer-coerced generosity elsewhere on this page.

  78. We say we want a policy-focused election, but then we tear any proposed policies to pieces. With the exception of the Conservatives, the other parties don't have access to an army of departments, bureaucrats, and lawyers to fully vet any policy idea. What is important is the overall policy framework and objectives. I think we can assume (perhaps naively?) that whichever party wins government will have their policy ideas fully fleshed out by the civil service to minimize unintended consequences.

    That being said, I am happy that for at least a couple of days we've been talking about real ideas like income splitting, credit card rates, and financing education. I'm sure we'll be back to the crap soon.

  79. Your description of the RESP is better than mine.

    As to the passport – you are right, and I completely (and have already) agreed, it isn't *an* RESP; It's a benefit paid _through_ the RESP program, which has the three benefits I've already mentioned: encouraging HS completion, encouraging RESP account creation, and directly funding students PSE goals. These are three genuinely good reasons for doing it through an RESP, and I haven't heard you criticize any of those points, except to repeat the completely uncontroversial fact that the passport is not, in and of itself, an RESP.

    The fact that the cash isn't sitting there in the account is exactly like a bunch of other things we do every day, and I am genuinely baffled by why you think this is problematic. My private insurance plans do _not_ have fully funded "In case something happens to Jonathan's health/stuff" accounts. CPP, EI, Medicare do not have fully funded "In case Jonathan retires/gets laid off/gets sick" accounts. They are pooled, for a variety of excellent reasons, but that doesn't make the reality of the commitment any less. Students will accumulate eligibility for the passport with each grade of 9/10/11/12 they complete, that eligibilty will be noted, and then they can draw it through the RESP. I just genuinely don't see any "dishonesty" there at all, and I can't for the life of me see any good-faith reasons why anyone would.

  80. "In some respects, the Liberals are giving with one hand, and taking from the other"

    This is true to a degree, but I think it's a good thing. When we're in deficit times like this I think we should be looking for ways that we can reallocate the money government currently spends in better ways. It's pretty easy to propose 'new' programs that spend new money, but what we need are ideas that show how government can make exisiting measures more effective.

  81. That was exactly, john g's point above, which I duly conceded.

  82. But pooled commitments are not especially wierd. My *non*-insurance benefits at work are like this; there isn't special funded accounts for each of the employees that each can access if they make use of a benefit; it's pooled, and one draws from the pool if one makes use of that benefit, but that doens't make the committment any less real.

    Insurance products are like this too, but it isn't an exclusvely insurance thing. Pooling commitments results in much more flexibility than having separate cash compartments for every possible benficicary. Why is this so weird? And why is it "dishonest" for this particular education program, but not for work benefits, not for insurance, or anything else?

    Update – actually, that's a better example than I realized. Work offers a tuition credit (under much more stringent conditions than the passport plan, of course). So let's do a thought experiment, and you can tell me where the dishonesty starts.

    * Is it dishonest to offer this benefit to me even though there is no money in an account for me specifically? I'm sure you'd agree, no.

    * Would it be dishonest for them to add a statement saying "Available eligable tuition credits: $xxxx" on my paystub every month (as long as it was clear what the limitations were)? I'm sure you'd also agree, no.

    * Would it be dishonest for them to make getting that credit contingent on opening an RESP? I think the answer is clearly no.

    * Would it be dishonest for them to contract with the RESP provider print at the bottom of my RESP statement somewhere: "Available through work tuition credit program: $xxx"? I really don't see how.

    * Would it be dishonest for them to somehow arrange the payment of the credit to be through the RESP, as vs directly through direct deposit? (Leaving aside how they'd actually do that). I just can't see how.

    So where — and this is a genuine question — does the dishonesty inherent in this passport program come from? There are differences — the work benefit would be taxable income, of course, but the company _could_, if they wanted, choose to make as part of the benefit that they'd eat any extra tax I had to pay, and make that difference go away.

  83. Note to self: add this "chet" to the list for the reeducation camps once our Coalition seizes power.

  84. But where's the evidence that this is an improved measure? In fact, the Liberals can't even explain the huge holes it seems to have.

  85. "And why does Mr. Ignatieff refer to jets and prisons in the budget when neither are in the budget?"

    Likely because the new spending in the "budget" is peanuts in comparison to the budget required from Canadians to fund the jets and prisons.

  86. I'm in my 5th year of school completing my Master's and I'm familiar with how the current system works. This will end up taking away from the amount students receive from student loans.

    RESPs are considered as income in the student loan application therefore the more I have the less I get from student loans. The $558 tax break that I get isn't considered in my student loan and I get back what I pay in taxes.

    I normally get $4000 student loan and $558 back on my tax return (so I get $4558). Iggys plan would mean that I'd receive an extra $442 on top of the $558 tax break. Because the $558 would now be given as a grant (considered income) I would receive $1000 less in student loans.

    So in the end instead of getting a combined $4558 in student loans/tax break, I'd receive $1000 grant (considered income) which would decrease my loan to $3000. Iggy's plan would mean that I'd receive $4000 in loans/grants (instead of a $4000 loan) but I'd no longer receive an additional $558 back in taxes. The end result of Iggy's plan would be to limit my access to debt by $558. I would therefore have $558 less to live off of.

  87. LOL what are you mixing with your kool-aid?

  88. Tax credits are pretty horrible tools for stimulating access, so moving the money up front is an improvement. The use of the RESP system strikes me as pretty odd, but it's better than a tax credit.

  89. This mobile reply chart stream is a mess, so I’m not sure if what I’m saying is popping up in the right place.

    But to whoever quoted Greg Weston’s CBC analysis as proof that the Liberal proposal doesn’t help ordinary students, note that the CBC analysis is outrageously superficial. Iggy’s plan only “gives and takes away” if you were (a) eligible for the tax credit and (b) actually using them in the first place. Tax credits are notoriously ineffective tools for delivering tax relief, because many people literally don’t know they’re eligible, just as many don’t know how to use them properly.

    So the Grit proposal does have a virtue that Weston/CBC analysis doesn’t give it credit for: it assigns the benefits of the grant outside of the tax system. An administrative nightmare, as some note above, but that’s a different, long gun registry sort of issue.

    Attack it as impractical? Sure. But attacking it as a financial step backward? That’s unfair.

  90. Yes, but as the Conservative claims suggest, and the Liberal non-answers expose, it's very unclear that the mechanisms are in place to transform the current provisions into this "passport" that the Liberals are proposing.

    You're saying the idea in theory is a good one. But, in practice, and as this current Liberal attempt reveals, the theory doesn't seem to be very implementable.

    In other words, did the Liberals really think this thing through? Apparently , they've been working on it for months. Really?

  91. So, your problem is that they don't get the education money until they start their education?

  92. Are you making the "beer and popcorn" argument, here?
    Because the counter-argument, made by the Conservatives, is to let individuals decide the best options for their circumstances.

  93. So, is your point that giving the students this money is fine, so long as you keep it totally secret from them until the moment they're given it? Is it OK to mail then a cheque or something one day after the start university, or should we hire government employees to ambush students on the street so they really don't see it coming?

    I have ALL SORTS of benefits I'm eligible for that my work tells me I can access if I do X, Y or Z. Is my employer being dishonest by telling me that these benefits exist for me before I decide to take advantage of them?

    I've got to say, what you're saying here makes no sense to me whatsoever.

  94. Do you really not get that the dollars do not really exist while the fruit of your loins is in high school?

    OK, seriously, was this in this week's talking points or something???

  95. I didn’t realize Harper was concurrently running for President of the UN.

  96. This policy does nothing and in fact removes tax credits for adults who continue their education.

  97. I hink he just likes writing "fruit of your loins" over and over again.

  98. For some clarity, the LPC’s proposal touches on a long-time ask of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations: the replacement of a system of tax credits with a system of up front grants. Notwithstanding the promises to increase the total envelop of funding, as a financing mechanism, tax credits have been consistently been proven in the literature as a mechanism which is inefficient at increasing access to post-secondary. Up front grants are more effective.

    RESPs have their own issues. On the balance though, this is a move that should increase access to students who otherwise have trouble accessing further schooling.

    Further reading:

    English: http://www.scribd.com/doc/51912528
    Français: http://www.scribd.com/doc/51912783

    Alex Lougheed

    CASA Policy Analyst

  99. That's normally what Prime Minister's (who aren't big fat sucky babies) can expect from the media.

  100. Again, why do people buy into this stuff?

    Take away the tax credit for mom and dad and give junior $1000.

    And Junior only gets the money if his parents are in the low income demographic or else squat.

    Looks like another blantant tax that some people for whatever reason think is a good idea.


  101. This is a fair point. But there's a benefit to having it up-front and more transparent, all other things equal (which they may or may not be).

  102. Blatent tax grab.
    Take tax credit from mom and dad to give $1000 to junior but only if he is from a poor family then nothing but more taxes on his folks.
    Unbelievable that people think this is good policy.

  103. If ever a fake word was needed in reality, it's "administrivia". I can't believe this is the first I've ever heard of it.

  104. Also, all those Arts students in Burger King uniforms need to get of his lawn.

  105. Keep trying, you're 0 for 2 now but eventually you'll get "blatant" right.

  106. I just wanted to drop by and say "fruit of your loins".

  107. Why bother? You'd have to go back to Dick and Jane, and even then he'd swear those two were brainwashed liberal cyphers.

  108. When you choose to locate yourself out on planet Mars everything starts to look leftist. Earth to planet chet, your mum called she thinks it's time to grow up now.

  109. I guess you would know better then i how all this is going to mesh with your loans. It all sounds needlessly complicated to me. Although it does seem to me to be preferable to have any portion of your indebtedness replaced by a non repayable grant.
    Why don't you email this post as is to the libs? I for one would love to know what their answer is. But it is an election, so good luck with getting an answer if you happen to be right.

  110. Tax-breaks aren't considered in student loan applications grants are. Iggy's plan would limit the ability of students to access debt (through student loans) at low interest rates. Over a 4 year period students would be trading access to $4000 in debt and $2232 in tax breaks for $4000 in grants. In the end students would leave university with less debt but would have access to less cash while in school.

    Iggy said today in Vancouver that he'd raise taxes on businesses to pay for his education plan. I'd rather have more money while in university and a job to pay off my debt afterwards (status quo) than a degree with no job, slightly less debt, and a crowded labour market (Iggy's policy).

  111. Thx for that. Seems i should have looked a little deeper before commenting. But it doesn't do anything to shore up the CPC criticism that this will put an additional burden on the banks.

  112. Good point! Another possibility it's as likely parents might more responsibly say: " Wow that's nice! That means even less debt for little susy, let's keep contributing"

    "No dear that does not mean we can afford to go on a bender to Vagas. Absolutely not!!"

  113. I have a bit of a problem with that. Doesn't it undermine, at least somewhat, the it's an incentive to open an account message. I was originally under the impression they would sit in the kid's RESP for up to 4 years. Now i'm puzzled.

  114. MYL seems to feel that spending the money you don't yet have in your account amounts to theft from a generation that's still playing with its toys.Being fully funded seems to be his watch word – very commendable…i'm sure my granddad would have concurred. Times change. He must have a hell of a time with his credit card balance?

  115. I sent my last post to info@liberals.ca and my MP Geoff Regen. I'll post the message here if I get a reply.

    "…it does seem to me to be preferable to have any portion of your indebtedness replaced by a non repayable grant."

    To pursue a BA in Halifax each year of university costs approx. $8000 ($32, 000 total for the BA). Ignatiff's policy would pay for 1/8 of a BA. However, the student would (over a four year degree) trade access to $4000 in debt (at 0% interest while in university) and $2232 in tax breaks for $4000 in grants. When you look at the level of debt incurred I'd prefer to have the extra $2232 so that I can avoid use of my student line of credit (w/ interest at market rate).

    I think the CPC is trying to craft an argument that by limiting access to 0% interest Canada Student Loans (until the student leaves university) they'll have to turn the big banks to get additional funding. Although I can see where they are coming from (I've had to rely on a student line of credit at times) their argument seems like a bit of a stretch to me. The CPC would be better off just criticizing the bare bones of the policy and not hypothetical scenarios.

  116. My understanding is that you get the credit only for the period that your RESP exists, though it's not literally "sitting" anywhere in those early years. So, if you open an RESP at 14, then at 18 you'll be eligible for $4000 from the passport program. If you wait until 16 to open an RESP, then at 18 you'll be eligible for $2000 from the passport program.

    Again, not that the money is literally sitting in an account for those years between 14 and 18, (or 16 and 18), but the amount you're eligible to get when you're 18 and start PS education is dependent on how early you started an RESP, and when you start your RESP, there'll be a line in your RESP statement telling you how much you're eligible for from the passport program once you turn 18 and start your education.

  117. Because he's not. Thats made up. Students will get an additional $1000 per year. Take away the $458 or so they now get in tax credits and they end up with an additional $552 dollars. That is an increase in post secondary assistance. Of course right winger would rather discourage education. Those damn educated people are ruining the country! That explains why every right winger in the country is trying to make Canadians believe that a Harvard education is a bad thing! If we are educated big business cant fool the people. So tell me agian why funding education is a bad thing! Oh I know, because Harper didn't come up with the idea.

  118. I forgot to add that Canada Student Loan repayments are tax-deductable which is another incentive for students to utlize Canada Student Loans over other options.

  119. Thx, that's clearer. So there will still be an element of personal responsibility involved – that 's fine. But it's clear for the programme to have any meaningful success the govt will have to have an effective information outreach programme.

  120. I'll certainly come back if you get an answer – good luck.

  121. john g is so good, he wins debates he didn't even know he was in!

  122. But they said on the news yesterday that even postsecondary students THIS FALL would get their thousand dollars. It's really just a tuition rebate program. As much as many around here fail to recognize it, or who excuse it, or who even celebrate it, the high school "appearance" of numbers is a total sham.

  123. The more we discuss this, the more this Learning Passport actually resembles a tuition insurance product. The premiums are free for the kid, paid for through compulsory taxation of everyone else. The "benefit" of $1,000 to $1,500 per year gets paid out over four years if there is a claim (postsecondary tuition paid). There is no benefit paid if there is no claim.

    But here it's like my life insurer is saying to me "you have five hundred thousand dollars in your account, but we take it back from you if you live past the maturity of your insurance policy." There is no five hundred thousand dollars in "my account." That money in "my account" is false.

  124. I attribute it to the new avatar.

  125. Woo! Almost-free university education from MUN!

  126. Which is precisely why I was looking for a Bull Meter count.
    The CPC war room was pulling out the $700million amount when it had already been reported it was approx. 450million in tax credits was being replaced with 1 billion upfront dollars.
    I'm all for funding education. I have 2 getting ready to go to college myself. I don't mind being misunderstood though. It happens sometimes.

  127. It's called #winning.

  128. But they said on the news yesterday that even postsecondary students THIS FALL would get their thousand dollars.<i/>

    That's cause this is the first year, isn't it? This year people will be eligible for $1000. Next year $2000. The year after that $3000. The year after that, $4000. Isn't that how it's rolling out?

  129. Ah, so tuition fees can get fixed for a microscopic generation, too. Wonderful.

  130. The program, at least the last version I have heard of it, was kids 14-17 "accumulate" this nothingness to the tune of $1,000 to $1,500 for each of four years. Then they "redeem" for each of four years of PSE.

    Existing post-sec students will start getting the cash as early as the fall semester under a Liberal government (if it keeps it promise), even though they are already older than 17. Which is easy enough, because every single detail about the 14-17 years of age thing is a meaningless puff of nothing, anyways.

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