3.22.2011

Budget fails to address Canada’s triple deficits

“Canada faces a triple deficit.  We have an economic deficit, an ecological deficit, and a social deficit,” said Green Party leader Elizabeth May. “While there are a number of small, but welcome, changes in this year’s budget, overall, the government has missed the chance to address these growing deficits. Despite some welcome small measures in EI relief, the increasing EI premiums continue to threaten economic recovery, while hurting workers and job creation.”

The Green Party welcomed the stay of execution for the popular ecoEnergy Home Retrofit programme, as well as the small replenishment for climate science through funding to NSERC of $7 million/year.  As well, the Guaranteed Income Supplement to seniors and the programme to assist doctors and nurses settling in remote areas mirrors Green Party policies.

“Sadly, the government is still in denial about the structural deficit.  A government serious about eliminating the economic deficit would not continue to cut corporate tax rates. Nor would they continue to subsidize fossil fuels and nuclear power.  In fact, Stephen Harper pledged at the 2009 G-20 to end our fossil fuels subsidies.  Instead, this budget simply reduces the higher levels of subsidies for oil sands production and brings them to the same level as conventional oil and gas.  But the industry will still have a generous tax benefit for ‘preparation,’ logging and scraping away the earth to reach the bitumen and preparations for in situ mining as well,” said Elizabeth May.

“Surely, the multi-billion dollar oil sands industry is mature and no longer in need of government assistance, especially with oil at over $100/barrel,” said Eric Walton, candidate for Kingston and The Islands.

“We were also surprised to see an increase in support for the nuclear industry in Canada – up $100 million since last year to a total of $405 million in this year’s budget,” said Jean-Luc Cooke, member of the Green Shadow Cabinet.

The government has failed to deal with the ecological deficit.  Small amounts, such as $2.5 million a year for two years for the Great Lakes demonstrate the government’s lack of understanding of the extent of the problems facing ecosystem health in our largest waterways.

While the social deficit does receive some welcome funding, the failure to provide any new funding for education in First Nations communities is a huge disappointment given the clear message from the Assembly of First Nations that this is their top priority.  Money to address the problem of leaking underground oil tanks on FN reserves ($22 million over 2 years) is merely a small measure of federal responsibility to deal with that problem.”

The government has continued its fascination with “boutique” tax cuts that madden serious economists.  The new child artistic tax credit is lovely, but does not help families too poor to afford the artistic or wilderness experience in the first place.

“Overall, this ‘steady as she goes’ budget reflects the lack of imagination, vision or plan of this government.  There may be something for everyone -- $5 million to celebrate the Grey Cup and $5 million for the Calgary Stampede, here a bridge, there a bridge and a re-announcement of the train to Peterborough, but overall, this is a pedestrian, mediocre and inadequate response to the action Canada needs,” said Elizabeth May.

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