Well, the Conservatives' long-awaited budget has been tabled and, as my Star colleague Chantal Hebert pointed out on CBC Newsworld just now, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority players have thrown darts all over the board wit their $35 billion plan to give even more tax cuts to the rich.
Sure the middle class got a bone but there's no guarantee it will use the extra couple of hun or so anything that would benefit the Canadian economy. After all, how much is there for Canadians when you go to a U.S.-owned big box store to buy a made-in-China TV?
This budget has a jobs! jobs! jobs! patina too it but what good is it to get a 15 per cent tax credit for home renovations when you don't have the cash to do them in the first place or, worse, you're losing your home?
More to the point, the budget doesn't redress the wrongs set out in Finance Minister's James Flaherty's ill-fated statement of last November, the one that triggered all the talk of a coalition government between the Liberals and NDP, with the Bloc's support.
Pay equity and employment insurance problems are still there -- and we all know that those directly impact women. As for childcare, you're dreaming.
“This budget fails to restore confidence in Mr. Harper’s ability to protect the vulnerable in Canada,” said Layton.
“In today’s budget, he prioritized $60 billion in corporate tax cuts and only $1.15 billion for the unemployed,” said Layton. He also noted Harper’s failure to reform Employment Insurance by freezing payments, maintaining the two-week waiting period and not improving eligibility requirements.
The budget also contains no mention of childcare spaces and maintains the attack on women’s ability to pursue pay equity complaints.
At the same time, ignoring the advice of virtually every economist in the country, the Harper government is charging ahead with broad-based personal income tax cuts that will cost about $2 billion a year and provide the greatest benefit to those with the highest incomes.
Hidden, but still included in this budget are the cuts to transfers, controls on program spending, weakening pay equity for federal employees and the privatization plans announced in Harper’s disastrous November Economic and Fiscal Update.
Tax reduction is Stephen Harper’s, the Fraser Institute’s, and the Calgary School of Neo-Conservative Economic’s mantra. The neo-cons believe in this so fervently that it is second to only the Rapture in their hearts.
It is for this reason, because of the covert meanness underlying the inclusion of yet another permanent tax reduction, that the aristocratic Michael Ignatieff should oppose the budget of January 2009, and replace Stephen Harper’s Conservatives with a coalition government that will help all Canadians equally through this difficult time.
The likelihood, though, is that he won’t.
Should be an interesting few days.
UPPITY WOMEN DATE: This just in from the YWCA:
YWCA Canada recognizes the confidence placed in us by the government targeting $15 million in youth internship spending to YWCA and YMCA.
“The government has set up some very inclusive spending with this budget for First Nations, seniors and people with disabilities, but we don’t see an awareness that Canadian women are very vulnerable in hard times,” says YWCA Canada CEO Paulette Senior. “Two-thirds of Canadians working for minimum wage are women, many taking any work they can find to hold family and community together. Government stimulus spending must take this into account.”
"The hole in this budget is child care services. For Canadian women and their families, child care is missing, and it is vital,” says Senior. “Everything we know about building strong families says child care services are essential. And that goes double for women needing to leave violent situations. They need affordable, quality care for their children so they can go out and work. Childcare not only creates jobs but it supports women and their families. Now is the time.” The budget announced $200 million for social housing in the north, a much needed investment.
Unlike the November economic update there was no mention of pay equity in the budget. “We are very sorry to hear a resounding silence from the government on this issue,” says Paulette Senior. “Especially as job stimulus spending is concentrated in employment sectors heavily dominated by men. The government needs to rethink its position on this equality issue and take the advice of its own task force.”
“Today’s budget announcement recognizes the urgent need for spending across sectors,” says Senior. “With this promise now on the horizon, we look forward to working with the government to help implement a gender focus in the rolling out of new programs and services that will truly support Canada’s most vulnerable women and their families”.
UP YOURS DATE: More from the Progressive Economics Forum:
Starting to look like an EPIC FAIL ...
UP WITH THE PEOPLE DATE: Here's the budget from the point-of-view of the two low-income ladies at Challenging the Commonplace.
The new federal budget has nothing for the working poor of this country. Yet we are precisely the people who would be most likely to spend, rather than save, any money given us to bolster our starved budgets.
Go read their whole post.
I've written to Michael Ignatieff and told him how this budget blows off the environment and working women, 2/3rds of whom make minimum wage. Here's his email address, and if you write, please copy Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe.
Cc: 'email@example.com'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'
Ignatieff is said to be making his decision on this tonight.