Public Values

Why we need a coalition government

Conservative government flounders in the face of a global economic crisis and the prospect of fast rising unemployment.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has left many the Canadian Labour Congress

November 30, 2008 — The Economic and Fiscal Update released by Finance Minister Flaherty on November 27, 2008 demonstrates that the Conservative government has no intention of seriously dealing with the global economic crisis and the prospect of fast rising unemployment.

The recent G-20 Summit meeting called on governments to "take urgent and exceptional measures" to stimulate their economies in a co-ordinated way to stop a slide into a global depression.

The incoming Obama administration in the United States plans to invest $500 to $700 billion in January 2009 to create 2.5 million jobs over the next two years, with a major focus on public infrastructure, the environment and improved unemployment benefits.

The governments of Britain, Australia and China have already followed up on G-20 calls for investments of about 2 percent of national income, which would amount to $30 billion in the case of Canada. The European Union have just introduced a major package.

Instead of acting here, the Conservative Economic and Fiscal Update pretends that yesterday's tax cuts have already done the job and says that "the Government is planning on balanced budgets or better for the current and the next five years."

Instead of investing in jobs and people, the Conservative government plans to cut spending by almost $2 billion next year. That is on top of cuts to equalization payments to the provinces of $1.8 billion next year and $5 billion the year after. The government plans to raise more than $2 billion next year by selling off public assets (at what will be fire sale prices). It also signalled a move to shut down pay equity in the federal jurisdiction.

The Economic and Fiscal statement put forward a rose-coloured economic forecast which completely ignores the reality of large recent job losses and a looming recession. It forecasts economic growth of 0.3 percent next year, compared to the TD Bank's forecast of a fall in Gross Domestic Product of 1.1 percent in 2009. It forecasts an unemployment rate of under 7 percent next year, while TD Bank forecasts the national unemployment rate will rise from 6.2 percent today, to 7.6 percent in 2009, to 7.9 percent in 2010.

In short, the Conservative government has no positive plan to deal with the crisis and intends to respond to a downturn through cuts rather than needed investments in jobs and people. Rather than work to bring Canadians together, they chose to use the excuse of a crisis to try and ram through a partisan and mean-spirited agenda.

The Conservatives are unwilling to make Parliament work and refuse to provide Canadians with the leadership they need to weather the deepening economic crisis.

We deserve better.

The Canadian Labour Congress has called for a major package including:

— A multi year public investment program covering basic municipal infrastructure, energy conservation, public transit and renewable energy, twinned to Made in Canada procurement programs;

— Investments in job creating public services like child care;

— Improvements to Employment Insurance benefits and increased investments in training;

&# 8212;Measures to protect workers' pensions and improve public pensions;

— Concrete action to save manufacturing and forestry jobs and to help hard hit industries restructure thorough new investments.

We are greatly encouraged that the Opposition parties are prepared to work together around a positive agenda and strongly support efforts to provide Canadians with an alternative that works in the country's best interests.

Links and sources
  Why We Need a Coalition Government to Deal with the Economic Crisis, by the CLC, November 30 2008

Posted: December 07, 2008

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