The Harper Government’s third austerity budget brought in by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on March 21 is a stand-pat, do-nothing budget. This budget lacks a comprehensive jobs strategy to stimulate the economy and does little to assist the 1.3 million Canadians who are looking for work. The Harper Government is fighting the deficit on the backs of everyday Canadians and the public services that they rely on. Since Finance Minister Flaherty started cutting public services in 2011, the Canadian economy and job market have declined. Today, the number of Canadians out of work is 300,000 higher than before the recession and the youth unemployment rate stands at 13.5%.
This austerity budget sees another $4 billion in spending cuts in the public service yet does not provide any details on department spending for 2013-14. It is no wonder that many people refer to this budget as a public relations, political propaganda exercise. The Canada Jobs Grant for job training is really a reallocation of existing federal money and is dependent on matching funding from the provinces and the private sector and would not begin for at least another year. The new 10-year infrastructure fund of $14.4 billion for municipalities beginning in 2014 is much less than Canada’s municipalities need to rebuild their crumbling infrastructure.
The Federal Government should be working to make life better and more affordable for all Canadians, not worse. Rather than making reckless cuts to public services, pensions, healthcare, employment insurance, and environmental programs, the Harper Government should ensure that the large, profitable corporations pay their fair share of taxes. At the present time, the federal government spends billions of dollars each year on tax benefits for the large, profitable corporations. That money could be redeployed to pay for public services and programs that will promote jobs, prosperity and equality for everyone and to help balance the books.
The Federal NDP has put forward practical proposals for the 2013 federal budget that take a balanced, responsible approach to dealing with the serious economic challenges facing Canadians. These proposals include long-term infrastructure investment, jobs for young people, small business investment, fair pensions, and long-term healthcare for all veterans. As an urgent first step to strengthen retirement security, the NDP is calling on the Harper Government to restore the Canadian retirement age to 65.
We can build a fairer, greener , more prosperous Canada when we create and protect good jobs, make life more affordable, improve public healthcare, education, pensions, employment insurance, and provide a fairer tax system.
–Brian Lynch, President, SDSG Federal NDP riding association, Cornwall, ON.