Stimulus package falls short on key issues, defeat it - Steelworkers



    TORONTO, Jan. 27 /CNW/ - Despite being pushed by the opposition-led
coalition to do something to stimulate the economy in recession, the
Conservative Government's budget is too small a step, says United
Steelworkers' (USW) National Director for Canada, Ken Neumann.
    "This budget should be defeated," said Neumann. "It is too little too
late to address the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. "It
provides insufficient economic stimulus, inadequate improvements to Employment
Insurance, no meaningful safeguards for private pensions and no improvements
to public pensions."
    Neumann said the stimulus package falls far short of the target of two
per cent of GDP that Harper himself agreed to in a November meeting of G20
countries.
    "It contains $18 billion in new federal measures, which equals only 1.2%
of GDP. As expected, Budget 2009 increases infrastructure spending. But it
continues to insist that infrastructure projects be organized as
public-private partnerships, despite the lack of available private capital. It
fails to combine the new money with a necessary buy-Canadian procurement
program."
    USW Economist Erin Weir adds that Budget 2009 follows on the heels of the
2008 economic statement's spending cuts.
    "Budget 2009 incorporates this austerity," Weir said, "leaving only
$10-billion of net stimulus, which equals only 0.7 per cent of GDP."
    While the budget extends the duration of Employment Insurance benefits by
five weeks, Neumann said the proposed EI measures do nothing to address
eligibility, "a travesty when 60 per cent of unemployed Canadians are
currently not eligible for benefits.
    "Unemployed workers in regions where benefits currently last for 14 weeks
will only get 19 weeks of benefits. Nothing has been done to make EI more
accessible, to improve benefit levels, or to address the two-week waiting
period."
    Neumann said what is also missing from the budget are measures to
encourage real investments in the manufacturing and forestry sectors, and
measures to take the lead on creating a more environmentally sustainable
economy.
    "Canada urgently needs to take the lead on going 'green' by investing in
renewable power, public transit, building retrofits and other initiatives to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions," he said.




For further information:

For further information: Ken Neumann, (416) 558-2510


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