OTTAWA - Canadian workers are being told to fend for themselves in today’s re-tabled 2011 Federal Budget. In their first majority government budget, the Harper Conservatives recommitted to their Bay Street backers by following through with irresponsible corporate tax cuts.
“Tens of thousands of Canadian are without jobs and many of our communities are still struggling to recover from the global economic crisis, yet all the help is going to banks and oil companies,” says Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). “We are not fostering the economic growth Canadian workers and communities need with more corporate tax breaks.”
At least $4 billion in revenue is being lost from the corporate tax cuts in this fiscal year alone. In return for this generous tax break, there is little evidence to show any substantial job creation. A much more beneficial approach for the economy would be more stimulus investments in Canada’s crumbling municipal infrastructure.
“There is overwhelming public support for the federal government to offer more support to Canada’s cities and towns in tackling the $125 billion infrastructure deficit,” says Moist, referring to a recent Environics / CUPE poll showing more than nine in ten Canadians support the federal government increasing infrastructure funding to municipalities.
“While there is modest support for infrastructure funding from the gas tax, we could be doing much more,” says Moist. “Not only do Canadians support this spending, these investments are proven job creators.”
Moist is also concerned with the lack of any revisions to health care spending. The upcoming renegotiations of the health care transfer agreements with the provinces and territories were a prominent issue in the election campaign, yet the budget remains silent on long-term plans to strengthen the public health care system.
“The Harper Conservatives claim a commitment to public health care, but they’re still being vague and evasive about what their plans actually mean for Canadians,” says Moist. “Strengthening the health care services we all depend on requires some vision and leadership, qualities seriously lacking in this budget.”
CUPE is also concerned with the Harper Conservatives’ continuing resistance to addressing retirement security. While modest enhancements to the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) were re-introduced for Canada’s poorest seniors, there are no concrete measures for expanding public pensions. This means the over 11 million Canadians without a workplace pension will continue to have inadequate retirement income coverage.
“There is overwhelming public support for enhancing the Canada Pension Plan and the Quebec Pension Plan,” says Moist. “The longer the Harper Conservatives put off dealing with public pensions, the worse our retirement income insecurity crisis will get.”
For more information:
CUPE Media Relations