OTTAWA, March 4 /CNW/ - "The federal budget provides no new support for green jobs or general investment in manufacturing," said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers' (USW) National Director for Canada. "It projects a higher unemployment rate this year than last year, but proposes only token improvements to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.
"The government should significantly enhance the accessibility, level and duration of regular EI benefits. It should stop deducting severance pay from EI benefits and shorten the two-week waiting period.
"While the budget continues previously announced stimulus spending, it provides almost no new money to create jobs or help unemployed workers," says Neumann.
One bright spot, Neumann pointed out, is that the budget closes some tax loopholes. The federal government will collect an additional $300 million per year by taxing stock options and an additional $150 million per year by lowering the interest rate paid to corporations on tax overpayments. These tax reforms have long been advocated by the labour movement, the Alternative Federal Budget and the Auditor General.
"However, the total amount of revenue gained by closing tax loopholes - about $0.5 billion per year - pales compared to the amount of revenue lost by continuing deep corporate tax cuts," said USW economist Erin Weir.
"Despite supposed concern about the deficit, Ottawa is slashing its corporate tax rate to 15 per cent by 2012 from 18 per cent today and 22.12 per cent as recently as 2007. This no-strings-attached tax giveaway is not tied to any real investment or job creation in Canada. When fully implemented, it will reduce federal revenues by nearly $14 billion per year.
"The federal government should retain this revenue by restoring the corporate tax rate in effect before the economic crisis. The money should be redirected toward targeted tax measures and public investments that would directly create Canadian jobs," added Weir.
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information: For further information: Ken Neumann, (416) 544-5950; Erin Weir, (613) 232-2200; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, (416) 544-5966