OTTAWA – “As the prime minister prepares for his economic chat over dinner with the premiers, the crisis in the manufacturing sector worsens, energy costs continue to soar, the loonie is overvalued and risks of a recession in the U.S. are on the rise. The economic forecast merits more than dinner – Harper must call a national conference on the economy,” said Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
That conference should prepare a hearty menu to relieve hard-hit communities and eliminate the threats to our national economy. Federal surpluses squandered in inefficient, massive tax cuts must be redirected to the real issues:
- Stemming the tide of massive job loss in manufacturing, forestry and other hard-hit sectors with concerted actions;
- Addressing the $100 billion-plus infrastructure deficit that cripples our municipalities – infrastructure investment without the trap of P3s is a powerhouse that keeps the economy growing;
- Increasing economic security for Canadians, including improved employment insurance benefits, better public pensions and a strengthened regulation of financial markets;
- Anti-poverty measures including a higher minimum wage and programs to eliminate child poverty;
- Solving the shortage in skilled labour with more skills training and literacy programs, along with a long-overdue national child care program;
- A real and substantial climate change program that would upgrade the Canadian economy and reduce its addiction to carbon – the longer we wait to act on climate change the more economic damage we will suffer.