Ottawa - “Today’s Fiscal and Economic Update shows that Stephen Harper’s government is trying to buy the votes of Canadians with the promise of more tax cuts that could lead to deep spending cuts in the future,” said Paul Moist, national president of Canada’s largest union - CUPE.
“Their business friendly “Advantage Canada ” plan shows a narrowness of economic vision that ignores the most pressing problems facing Canada: increasing regional and social inequalities,” added Moist. “Instead of more vague promises, we need direct public investments in our future. Tax cuts and privatization have failed to improve productivity and have not increased the standard of living for most hardworking Canadians.
“This plan reflects more of the same from conservative and liberal governments. Corporate profits have reached record highs and executives have granted themselves massive pay hikes. But ordinary hardworking Canadians have gained little from the past few years of economic growth. Average wages have barely kept up with inflation while the cost of living and fees for public services have been increased.
“Instead of more corporate tax breaks, we need greater direct public investments that produce real and long-lasting benefits for Canadians,” Moist said. “The federal government needs to restore and increase transfers for education to reduce the cost of tuition, restore funding for child care programs, community literacy programs and social services.
“We’ve heard this promise of stable and predictable funding for post-secondary education and to provinces and territories. But federal government also needs to provide increased funding and this they haven’t done.
“Steven Harper’s plan for modernizing infrastructure isn’t what municipalities – or Canadians – need. It is clear that the conservatives want to use federal money through a new federal P3 office to try and force municipalities and provinces into public private partnerships for infrastructure projects.
“Our experience has shown that P3 projects cost more, reduce citizen control through privatization and cloak projects in a shroud of secrecy so the public has almost no information on what they are paying for. Municipalities need increased transfers without being forced into costly and wasteful P3 deals,” explained Moist.
“Canadians know what to think about Harper’s first set of five priorities, which included ending federal funding for child care programs and a failed proposal that hasn’t increased child care spaces, a health care wait times guarantee that hasn’t improved health care, a GST cut that did little to reduce the cost of living, and an Accountability Act that leaves government contracts with private companies off the hook. Other promises are being increasingly ignored or broken.
“This plan has repeated the promise to introduce a Working Income Tax Benefit for low income workers which could be a positive move, but low income Canadians really need an increase in the minimum wage – not more public subsidies to low wage employers.
“ Harper appears to be backing away from his promise to fix and improve the fiscal imbalance and the equalization program. Increasing the Canada Social Transfer and fixing the equalization program would provide provinces with funding needed to improve education and social programs.
“ Canada is already in the best fiscal state of all the G7 countries. The promise to eliminate Canada’s net debt within a generation and apply the savings to tax cuts is a recipe for reducing public services and increasing our social deficits.”
For more information:
Paul Moist, CUPE National President – 613-558-2873 (cell)
Toby Sanger, CUPE Senior Economist – 613-237-1590 ext. 241, 613-720-6955 (cell)