Erin O'Toole's Conservative leadership platform promises tax help for students, young workers

Conservative leadership candidate Erin O'Toole is vowing that if he becomes prime minister, he would give new graduates an extra $100,000 in tax breaks over their first three years out of school.

Durham, Ont. MP one of 14 in croweded field contesting Conservative Party of Canada leadership next spring

Conservative leadership candidate Erin O'Toole is proposing large tax breaks for students and young workers to help address skills shortages. (Liam Richards/Canadian Press)

A candidate for the federal Conservative leadership wants to give new graduates a tax break out of school.

The promise from Erin O'Toole is the first tax policy he has proposed in the campaign, and targets young voters who were critical to the Liberals' electoral success in 2015.

Higher-than-average unemployment rates for students and young workers — along with comments the country's finance minister Bill Morneau made about "job churn" becoming commonplace for Canadians entering the workforce — has stirred unrest among student groups.

O'Toole is vowing that if he becomes prime minister, he would give new graduates an extra $100,000 in tax breaks over their first three years out of school.

The expansion of the basic personal tax exemption would be available to Canadians under age 30 who successfully complete an accredited apprenticeship, college diploma, or university degree.

Students who graduate as engineers, coders or in the skilled trades would see a more lucrative tax exemption: $200,000 over their first five years out of school.

O'Toole says the hope is that the exemption acts as an incentive for those skilled workers to stay in Canada rather than taking up jobs in, say, California.

O'Toole is also promising to review acute skills shortages every five years to ensure the tax exemption continues to target occupations in need.

In a statement, O'Toole says the country needs this new generation of workers to succeed so that the economy can grow and fund the social programs Canadians rely upon.

Also Tuesday, fellow leadership candidate Maxime Bernier used a speech to the Economic Club in Ottawa to criticize the Bank of Canada's policy of keeping interest rates close to zero per cent since 2009, arguing it hasn't had the stimulative effect on the economy that was intended, but instead encouraged higher debt levels.

Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz needs to be more impartial in his approach to the federal government's fiscal policy decisions, Bernier said.

With files from CBC News


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