Each of the three main political parties are promising to help families in this election, taking starkly different positions on how best to help parents manage their child care needs.

CTV’s Canada AM sat down with candidates from three federal parties to hear why they think their approaches are best for families.

Lisa Raitt, Conservative candidate for Halton

Lisa Raitt, Conservative candidate for Milton

The Conservatives have promised to continue the Universal Child Care Benefit, which provides monthly benefits to the primary caregivers of every Canadian child under the age of 18.

The benefit is available to all parents, regardless of income. Raitt says the Conservatives’ point of view is that every Canadian family has different plans for child care and all should be treated fairly.

“We take the philosophy that you support the family and the family can then make the choice of how to support their children. That’s why we have the Universal Child Care Benefit. It goes to every family in Canada who has children,” Raitt said.

“What I hear at the doors in Milton is... we need flexibility. A lot of moms decide they want to stay home and this is the best way they can manage their child care demands.”

She added that the Conservatives’ approach is affordable.

“Fundamentally, every child deserves public support. (The UCCB) is something that’s been costed. It’s affordable. We’re not going to have to run deficits.”

Peggy Nash, NDP candidate in Parkdale-High Park

Peggy Nash, NDP candidate in Parkdale-High Park

The NDP is putting its focus on daycare, promising to create 1 million child care spaces over eight years at a cost of no more than $15 a day. Nash says that’s what families are saying they need the most.

“What parents are struggling with is the lack of child care. They can’t find spaces and there are long lineups. They are also struggling with the costs of child care. A universal day care program is the ideal,” Nash said.

“What is different about our plan is that we would actually be creating child care spaces. Parents don’t have to put their child in child care but when they need it and they can’t get it, it’s a huge problem.”

She added that a universal child care program would offer quality care.

“Sometimes, programs targeted only at low-income families become poor programs. We want to make sure that it’s a good quality program, with early childhood educators.”

Asked how the NDP would fund universal child care, Nash responded her party would eliminate income-splitting and redirect money toward child care. An NDP government would also partner with the provinces to help support the program.

“There are other decisions that we’ll make that will fund this program. It will be fully costed. It’s not going to happen overnight but we will begin to roll it out quite quickly.”

Chrystia Freeland, Liberal candidate in Toronto Ce

Chrystia Freeland, the Liberal candidate in the riding of Toronto Centre

The Liberals are pledging to help families by lowering the federal income tax rate for the middle class, and raising taxes on the richest one per cent.

A Liberal government would also replace the Universal Child Care Benefit with a single, tax-free child benefit for middle and lower–income families.

“We want to provide programs to those who need them the most and not be delivering those services to those at the very top who can afford to take care of their children. That makes practical sense to Canadians,” Freeland said.

She added that such a system is affordable and can be implemented quickly.

“This is something we can do in the first 100 days; it doesn’t take new systems, it doesn’t take new bureaucracies.”

“The problem with the Conservative approach is it spreads the peanut butter too thinly, which means people at the bottom and people in the middle don’t get the help they need,” she added.

“The problem with the NDP program is it is a mirage. People are rightly asking about how to pay for it because the NDP hasn’t said how they will pay for it.”