BC FORUM News - from The Advocate, Spring 2015
Its time for real change in Ottawa
by Diane Wood, President BC FORUM
When the federal election is finally called – it’s scheduled for October but some say it could come earlier – I will be thinking about how the current government is making life harder for seniors, our children and our grandchildren.
The Harper government claims to be good at managing the economy. If you grant them that claim, you have to ask on whose behalf they are managing it.
They have doled out huge tax giveaways to corporations and wealthy Canadians. They said this would spur investment and create jobs. Instead, there are now billions of our tax dollars gathering dust in corporate bank accounts.
While the rich get richer, and contribute less to society as a whole, many other Canadians are struggling.
Household debt has increased to a new record high. Statistics Canada says the ratio of household debt to disposable income hit a new high of 163.3 percent in the fourth quarter as incomes failed to keep up with the needs of ordinary Canadian families.
Good jobs are few and far between. Young people with college and university degrees are unemployed or under-employed, and in many cases still relying on their parents and grandparents for support.
At the same time, the number of temporary foreign workers in Canada tripled between 2002 and 2012.
The Harper government’s new income-splitting scheme – another example of how they manage the economy – will further deepen the divide between the rich and everyone else.
An analysis by the Broadbent Institute found that nine out of ten Canadian households would receive no benefit at all. On the other hand, under 1 percent of all households would be eligible for benefits in excess of $5,000.
It’s one more Harper government tax giveaway to the richest Canadian families, to those who need it least.
And there’s even more. The Tories plan to double the contribution limit on Tax Free Savings Accounts will, over time, cost $9 billion a year.
It helps those who have money in the bank at a time when the only thing a record number of Canadians have in the bank is debt. Some middle income families will benefit, but even they help pay the cost of the continuing giveaways to the few.
Every time the Harper government shifts benefits to the richest among us, the rest of us end up paying for it, either in higher user fees or taxes, or in reduced public services.
Since they came to power, the Tories have relentlessly eroded the compassionate Canada that you and I helped to build.
Public services that help make Canada a more equal, caring society are being slashed.
Even looking at a partial list like the one that follows is painful.
The Harper Conservatives have:
• Slashed the federal contribution to Medicare, and refused to negotiate a new health accord to guarantee equal access to public health care.
• Announced that our children and grandchildren will have to work to age 67 before receiving Old Age Security, the most basic public pension.
• Changed the rules so only 37 percent of jobless workers qualify for employment insurance.
• Cut or eliminated funding for dozens of groups dedicated to improving human rights or the well-being of the most vulnerable.
• Cancelled the national child care program.
• Torn up the Kelowna Accord, a federal-provincial agreement to tackle the third world living conditions of many aboriginals.
• Cut environmental protection and fired scientists.
• Weakened equal pay rules.
• Targeted advocacy groups in politically motivated tax audits.
• Refused to introduce a national pharmacare program, forcing us to pay 30 percent more than the OECD average for drugs.
• Appointed self-centred, greedy people as Conservative senators.
We can do better.
In the next election, whenever it comes, let’s elect representatives who will stand up for families like ours.