The three main federal party leaders were were on the campaign trail Thursday where they focused on their party's respective promises to help Canadian families. 

Stephen Harper said a re-elected Conservative government would increase tax relief for families adopting children, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair promoted his universal child-care plan which promises a spot for every Canadian child at $15 per day, and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau vowed to give Canadians caring for a seriously ill family member greater access to benefits.

"We believe that there is no higher calling than that of raising a child," Harper said during a campaign stop in Newmarket, Ont. "Nor can there be any greater reward."

Harper said the Conservatives would increase the value of the Adoption Expense Tax Credit, which is designed to defray the costs associated with adopting children. 

'We recognize that adoption costs can be high and, in some cases, prohibitive for parents.'  - Stephen Harper, Conservative leader 

Currently, the non-refundable tax credit allows families to claim 15 per cent of adoption costs to a maximum of $15,000. 

Harper vowed Thursday that a re-elected government would increase the maximum eligible adoption expenses to $20,000. At 15 per cent, that works out to $3,000 per child.

The Conservatives would also make the credit fully refundable. While both refundable and non-refundable tax credits reduce the amount of tax a person owes, a refundable credit can result in a tax refund.

Stephen Harper adopting kids tax credit

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, second from left, swings Beatrice as her father, Conservative candidate Jeff Watson, holds her other hand during a campaign stop in Newmarket , Ont. Thursday, with Watson's son Elijah, left, and Laureen Harper. Watson adopted Bea, as they like to call her, from Iqaluit. Harper promised to increase a tax credit to defray the costs of adopting children. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

"What this means is lower-income families who pay little or no income tax will still be able to receive the full assistance of the government to help cover the cost of adoption," Harper said. 

If the Conservatives are re-elected Oct. 19, the increase in the tax credit would be implemented in 2016 and cost the government an additional $4 million in foregone revenue.

About 3,000 children are adopted every year in Canada, according to the Adoption Council of Canada. As well:

  • Public adoption can cost up to $3,000.
  • Adoption through private agencies can go as high as $20,000.
  • International adoptions can cost as much as $30,000.

NDP promotes $15 a day child-care plan

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair was in Vancouver on Thursday where he promoted the NDP's plan for universal child care.

Mulcair promised to create 110,000 child-care spaces in B.C., where Vancouver parents pay some of the highest fees in the country.

Tom Mulcair 20150819

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, right, greets a young boy during a campaign stop in Surrey, B.C., on Wednesday. Mulcair promised 110,000 child-care spaces in B.C. (Darryl Dyck/CANADIAN PRESS)

He said his plan will make it easier for families in a province where two out of three children don't have access to regulated child care.

Children giggled and played with colourful toys during Mulcair's announcement, which came during a campaign stop in the riding of Vancouver Granville.

Mulcair said it's women who are forced to make difficult life decisions based on their children's needs.

He said he's spoken to mothers who say they're being forced to choose between their careers and their children.

Mulcair said his goal is to guarantee a child care spot for every Canadian child at $15 per day.

Liberals to offer more support for caregivers

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was in Victoria, B.C., where he pledged that a Liberal government would give Canadians greater access to benefits when caring for a seriously ill family member.

If elected, Trudeau said a Liberal government would invest $190 million to expand the compassionate-care benefit and make it accessible to any Canadian looking after a seriously ill family member.

Justin Trudeau 20150812

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, left, holds baby Adalyn Hayes while Erika Golem, right, laughs during a campaign visit to the Regina Farmers' Market in Regina last week. (Michael Bell/CANADIAN PRESS)

He said the expanded program wouldn't lead to Canadians paying higher employment insurance premiums.

Trudeau said under a Liberal government the six-month benefit could also be claimed incrementally over a one-year period.

The Liberal Party traditionally hasn't performed well on Vancouver Island, though Trudeau appears to be looking to gain traction in the southern region, where there's been a historical spattering of support.

The party hasn't been represented on the island since its last MP stepped down in 2011, after which they were soundly trounced in a tight two-way race between the Conservatives and the NDP.

With files from The Canadian Press