2008 Federal Budget Reaction - Government misses golden opportunity to right economic wrongs

    TORONTO, Feb. 26 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers' (USW) National Director
for Canada says Tuesday's federal budget offers little help for working
Canadians facing an uncertain future.
    Ken Neumann, who is also a USW international officer, says the
hardest-hit economic sectors of manufacturing and forestry have been provided
with little added incentive to revitalize communities devastated by the crisis
that shows little sign of abating.
    "In the coming fiscal year the federal government will devote $6 to
corporate tax cuts for each additional dollar invested in programs for
ordinary Canadians," said Neumann. "The budget extends the accelerated capital
cost allowance for manufacturing on a 'declining' basis rather than continuing
it at a straight-line rate.
    "Although the manufacturing crisis has dramatically worsened over the
last year, the targeted tax incentive in Tuesday's budget is worth less than
the one in last year's budget. Through 2013 the government's
no-strings-attached corporate tax cut will cost 20 times as much as both the
'07 and '08 incentives combined."
    Neumann added that, as manufacturers receive a 50-per-cent capital cost
allowance, the Alberta oil sands will retain a 100-per-cent capital cost
allowance through 2010.
    Meanwhile, the budget's only help for the struggling forest industry is a
$10-million, two-year program for international promotion of Canada's forests,
far short of the aggressive action the sector urgently needs.
    "Beyond the continuing uncertainty, lower-income Canadians miss out on
the new Tax-Free Savings Account, which will help people will extra income to
save at the expense of those who cannot afford to do so," he said. "Most of
the tax breaks will go to those who have already maximized their RRSP
contributions. Looking back to 2005, the most recent year for which data is
available, 44 per cent of taxable capital gains went to the wealthiest 0.6 per
cent of tax filers.
    "It's a program for the benefit of the privileged elite."
    Neumann said the budget is a disappointment and reason enough to demand a
change in government.
    "Working Canadians and their families cannot afford to live through
another year of uncertainty," he said. "If the Harper government cannot bring
itself to introduce measures that combine economic stimulus, rebuild our
manufacturing sector and lead the way in the climate change fight, then we
should elect a government that will."

For further information:

For further information: Ken Neumann, (416) 558-2510; Charles Campbell
(USW Research), (647) 233-1368

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