One of a series comparing federal election platforms.
Parents are spending the money and feeling the love like never before from parties contesting the Oct. 19 federal election.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper expanded his favoured approach of direct payments, increasing the Conservative government's child care benefit plan that has been compared to the former Family Allowance.
The increase was set up to produce bonus cheques to eligible parents in July, retroactive to the start of the year. Payments went up from $100 to $160 a month for each child under six, with a new $60 payment for those aged seven to 17, payable to families regardless of income or method of child care.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau responded by promising a modified version that would phase out the benefit for high-income families and increase payments for the rest.
Building into its calculations a proposed income tax cut for middle and low-income people, the party estimates a two-parent family with an income of $90,000 and two children would receive $490 a month tax free, compared to the Conservative program of $275 a month after taxes.
The Liberals calculate that a single parent with $30,000 income and one child would receive $533 a month, up from $440 under Conservative child benefit and tax rules.
NDP leader Thomas Mulcair has offered to retain the Conservative payments and expand Quebec's subsidized daycare program across the country, with a maximum payment of $15 a day and a long-term goal of creating one million new spaces across the country.
Mulcair has said the Quebec program allowed 70,000 mothers to return to the workforce, and the NDP program would be available to private daycare operators as long as they are independent and not "big box" operations.
Green Party leader Elizabeth May is also offering a universal federally-funded child care program, including support for workplace daycare through a direct tax credit to employers of $1,500 a year.
The Green Party also wants to appoint a national children's commissioner to advise government on policy.