Federal budget should be invested in Canadians not debt reduction



    OTTAWA, Feb. 25 /CNW Telbec/ - Conservatives are not the good fiscal
managers they would like the country to believe and there is plenty of
evidence to prove it. According to John Gordon, National President of the
Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), Conservative budgets have been
contributing to a growing gap between rich and poor Canadians.
    "Why is it that, in spite of continued economic growth, poverty is still
on the rise in Canada," says Gordon. "Nearly one in six Canadian children live
in poverty; one in four in First Nations communities. Our social safety net is
disappearing and economic disparity and social exclusion are deepening."
    Since their election, Conservative budgets have been designed to provide
a few 'goodies', such as the GST reduction and the taxable child care
allowance, that are of little real benefit to individuals but advance the
government's agenda of undermining publicly funded services and reducing their
role in meeting Canadians' priorities. The money lost by reducing the GST by
just 1% could have financed a universal early learning and child care system
for three to five-year olds across the country.
    At the same time the Harper government has been devoting large surpluses
to debt repayment, they've been cutting social programs. Debt reduction will
be cold comfort to the working families affected by the impending economic
slowdown and who are even now living from pay cheque to pay cheque. Nor will
it help new immigrants already clustered in low-wage, no benefits, precarious
work.
    "Conservative ideology has blessed corporations with unnecessary tax cuts
and the sell-off of public assets to private interests," says Gordon. "They've
accelerated a process that has seen average real wages remain stagnant over
the last 30 years while corporate profit shares have risen to a 40-year high.
They've favoured the wealth few over the working majority. As programs and
services are cut, most Canadians have to dig deeper to pay user and other
fees, regardless of their ability to pay."
    PSAC has its own prescription for a better federal budget that includes
measures to ensure quality jobs, economic fairness and a secure future.
    Instead of using the surplus to pay down the debt, use it to increase
public spending to grow the economy and counter the effects of a slowdown.
Invest in social programs that will have maximum benefit such as national
pharmacare, national child care and affordable housing. Make eliminating
poverty a real priority.
    Instead of tax reduction, create a new tax bracket for people at the top,
fully tax capital gains and reverse the planned corporate tax cuts since they
will only benefit corporations that are doing well and won't help those that
really need the help.
    Instead of cutting federal programs, take the lead by beefing up
environmental protection for our north, our fish stocks and wildlife habitat,
to name a few. Instead of empty rhetoric about human rights, restore the Court
Challenges Program and funding for women's advocacy groups. Instead of just
talking about economic competitiveness, restore the latest GST cut and invest
it in literacy programs and more support for education.
    Gordon concludes that "there can be no economic stability where poverty
and inequality exist and are on the rise. Canadians need and deserve much more
than the usual dish the Conservatives are likely to serve up."




For further information:

For further information: Louise Laporte, PSAC Communications, (613)
558-4975


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