Candidates for the House of Keys in Glenfaba and Peel were confronted with questions from voters at a public meeting.
Geoffrey Boot, Trevor Cowin, Tim Crookall, Leo Cussons, Ray Harmer, Mikey Lee (who could not attend) and Kate Lord-Brennan are vying for the two available seats in the constituency.
The cost of having children was among the topics they were asked about during the meeting at QEII High School.
They discussed maternity benefits, child care and the island’s birth rate.
Geoffrey Boot (independent) said the decision on whether or not to start a family is “always complex”, and warnings about global overpopulation and the cost of raising a child “put people off”.
“However, that does not prevent us as a government or parliament from looking at the benefits and what is available to people as incentives to help the process,” he said.
The supply of nurseries in particular should be reviewed as it “allows people to return to work, which is important for the economy of the Isle of Man” and allows parents to maintain their income, he said. added.
Trevor Cowin (independent) said the government had been reluctant to introduce statutory maternity benefit paid by companies in the past due to the potential burden on small employers.
He called for a review of statutory maternity benefits, maternity allowances, childcare and nursery costs, adding: “It all really ties together.
“There should be a review of all of these things so that you get the proper funding, if you want, to allow you to have children.”
Tim Crookall (independent) said young families today are “our future” and people should be able to have families whenever they want “with government help”.
“Not all companies will give you maternity leave,” he said, “which is obviously a big deal for young parents in particular, or for all parents, when they want to be with their families. “.
The drop in the island’s birth rate was “staggering” and the government should make sure it “helps in the right places” in the future, he added.
Leo Cussons (Isle of Man Green Party) said that starting a family was “one of the greatest moments” for people, and that they were currently “terribly” disappointed.
He said: “Obviously we need to help people enjoy this moment, because frankly, there isn’t much that is as good as this moment, and we don’t.”
Changing the island’s legislation to “work for the modern family” by allowing families to choose which parent returns to work would help “increase the labor force,” he added.
Ray Harmer (freelance) said the amount paid in maternity allowance was too low and that kindergarten preschool credits should be increased.
He said: “I don’t think we are paying enough and I would look to see that increase. And I also believe in family allowances, to really give that support.”
The island “was not attracting enough young people”, which could be corrected by encouraging virtual work to offer “more flexible work for parents”, he added.
Mikey Lee (independent) said the maternity allowance should keep pace with the increase in other benefits as it “has not increased for a very long time”.
“It should follow everything else, you know, if they increase one, it should be increases for everyone,” he said.
The offer of free childcare should be “more open” to parents because the cost of living on the island “is extraordinary, just for rent and food, it starts to add up very, very quickly” , he added.
Kate Lord-Brennan (independent) called for more women in leadership positions in government to give a broader perspective of “what the issues are on the ground”.
She said the island should “value moms and babies” and should be “a great place to have a child and be a child”.
“I really think that an appropriate group needs to be put in place to look at these issues, decide what can be done from a government perspective to support new families, to support new mothers,” he said. she added.
At the same time, the candidates also discussed proposals for a sewage treatment plant for the region, timeshare and the digitization of government services.
The two seats in Glenfaba and Peel have been held by Geoffrey Boot and Ray Harmer for the past five years.
Polling stations will be open between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. BST on September 23.
Learn more about the Isle of Man elections:
BBC Isle of Man will present the 12 constituencies of the House of Keys in the upcoming general election ahead of the September 23 poll.