OTTAWA—Today’s federal budget may be a short-term attempt to buy votes but it fails to address the long-term priorities of most Canadians, says the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
Two recent national polls – one by Environics Research, the other by Strategic Counsel – show overwhelming public support for government investment in social programs that benefit all Canadians and that tackle persistent poverty as well as income inequality—the other “inconvenient truth” of our time.
“This is a budget that attempts to buy off low- and middle-income families with tax cuts and provinces with transfers,” says Ellen Russell, senior economist for the Centre. “The Harper government has opted for a second round of targeted tax cuts instead of building through social programs that Canadians say they really want.”
“There are many things tax cuts just can’t do. Tax cuts cannot create child care spaces, build affordable housing, or lower the cost of post-secondary education. Any government serious about helping working families would invest in these services.”
The Centre is also critical of the budget promise to transfer almost $5 billion to the provinces over two years with no strings attached.
“Without strings attached, the provinces are free to spend the money on lawn mowers instead of guaranteeing they will tackle poverty and inequality head-on,” says Bruce Campbell, executive director of the Centre.
“The Harper budget is about nation dismantling, not nation building. A transfer without any conditions or standards is an abdication of leadership. Nation building is far more than being a tax collector for the provinces,” concludes Campbell.