OTTAWA, Ontario, March 30, 2011 ( – Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s income-splitting proposal is “a promise to continue abusing [single-income] families for another 5 years,” says Phil Lees, head of the Family Coalition Party, Ontario’s pro-life and pro-family party.

On Monday, Harper announced that the Conservatives will put forward a Family Tax Cut that would allow families with children under 18 to share up to $50,000 of their household income for federal tax purposes.

While the plan was welcomed in theory by pro-family groups, it won’t take effect until the budget is balanced, which the Conservatives aren’t promising until at least 2015-2016.

“By that time we’re into the throes of another election,” said Jim Hnatiuk, leader of the Christian Heritage Party (CHP), which is Canada’s only pro-life party at the federal level.  “This is a pretty easy thing to promise families in Canada when you may not even be in power when it’s time to bring it in.”

In a Wednesday editorial, the National Post agreed.  “Why wait five years to bring it about?” they asked. “Fiscal prudence is a virtue, but in this case it’s misplaced.”

“Tantalizing voters with the prospect of a tax break in 2016 is a waste of time, and likely to upset the very constituency the Tories are hoping to court: middle income families with preschool children,” they added.

Hnatiuk says his party has promoted income splitting from its beginning.  “It builds the family and that’s a good thing, but it should be happening now.  He should be coming up with solutions for today,” he said.  “You’ve got to be scratching at the bottom of the barrel.”

Harper says his plan will provide tax relief to about 1.8 million families who will save, on average, $1,300 per year.  It is projected to cost $2.5 billion per year.

But Hnatiuk said Harper should consider promoting the CHP’s “Family Care Allowance,” which would provide $1000 per month to assist families who choose to have one parent stay at home to care for children up to age 18.  It would also apply where an immediate family member must leave work to act as a primary caregiver.  The party notes that their surveys suggest 70 percent of Canadian families with two working parents would have one parent stay home if they could afford it.

Pro-family groups have praised the idea of income-splitting, saying it curtails unjust discrimination in the current tax system – which treats spouses as individuals – against single-income families and those where one spouse earns significantly more than the other.

Under the current tax system, two families with the same household income can end up paying different amounts of tax.  For example, a family with parents earning $60,000 and $20,000 would pay $1,292 more in tax than where each spouse earns $40,000.  And a family with one parent earning $70,000 and the other staying at home will pay $1,992 more than a family where each spouse earns $35,000.

Lees said the government must work to assist families “who are sacrificing by having one spouse remain home to raise and nurture the next generation,” and that this should be a priority along with “balancing the books.”

He said it’s “unacceptable” that the government added the burden of HST to previously non-taxed goods and services while already “reaching deeper into the pockets of these families for a long time.”

“Mr. Harper, show us you are serious about bringing taxation fairness to these families,” he said.  “Address both important principles – balancing the budget over time and reducing the undue tax burden for families.”

“At the very least, begin to address the needs of families now with an income splitting plan that will gradually be implemented over the next 5 years,” he added.