TORONTO, March 4 /CNW/ - "This budget does little to help Canadian workers secure their footing during a period of severe economic instability and is rooted in government-destroying, deeply ideological values," CAW President Ken Lewenza said in response to Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's budget today.
The budget shifts the Conservative government policies further in favour of businesses and corporations, to the detriment of average Canadians. It outlines a series of plans to reduce the federal deficit through major spending cuts, including $6.8 billion from the public service budget. The budget also highlights the government's intent to further reduce tariffs on manufacturing inputs, deregulation of the telecommunications and uranium mining sectors, an expansion of free trade, and boasts that Canada will have the lowest corporate tax rate in the G7 by 2012.
The Harper government also re-announced $19 billion earmarked for stimulus projects in 2010. Lewenza said what Canada needs is a commitment from government to invest in ongoing infrastructure development to close the current funding deficit and genuinely build the country, not just through one-off stimulus projects.
"With hundreds of thousands of Canadians facing tremendous insecurity and hardship because of inadequate Employment Insurance and pension benefits, I expected to see tangible support from this government," Lewenza said. "After taking more than two months to recalibrate, this budget is nothing short of pathetic."
The Harper government is refusing to improve eligibility criteria and ensure the special EI extensions go to all workers, so that more workers will be covered by EI, instead of falling through the cracks in the country's social safety net. Lewenza said these demands are even more important today with approximately 800,000 unemployed Canadians expected to lose their EI in the coming months and that all EI enhancements are still scheduled to end this year.
"The past months have shown us that Canadians are very concerned about their pensions and retirement savings," Lewenza said. "In the face of a looming pension crisis, this was the time for our government to take the lead and act on major pension reforms, including major improvements to Canada's public pension system. They did nothing."
On positioning Canada's economy for future growth, the Conservative government has once again failed to provide the necessary investments in long-overdue renewable energy infrastructure projects, public transit improvements and other initiatives to spur sustainable and 'green' economic development that help put people back to work, Lewenza said.
"This government refuses to consider the long-term and strategic economic and ecological benefits of taking on the global climate crisis."
"It is outrageous to think that the Harper government undercut our country's democracy, abused the privileges of the Prime Minister's Office and wasted away two months of work to show up with a budget that does nothing."
SOURCE Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)
For further information: For further information: CAW Communications: John McClyment, (416) 315-3202 or Angelo DiCaro, (416) 606-6311