Federal budget drags Canada into age of austerity: Think tank

OTTAWA, March 29, 2012 /CNW/ - All Canadians will pay the price for a federal budget that will result in significant job losses, weaker environmental protection, and unnecessary cuts to cherished public services, says the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The CCPA says once the government's three rounds of spending cuts are fully implemented, they will have resulted in a total of over 70,000 full-time job cuts (35,000 in the public sector and 37,000 in the private sector) and could raise the unemployment rate to 7.8%.

"This may be a 2012 budget but it's got the 1930s written all over it," says CCPA Senior Economist David Macdonald. "Federal austerity, combined with provincial austerity budgets, will create a fiscal drag on Canada's economy.

"We are dismantling public programs and peeling back income supports such as Old Age Security without asking profitable corporations and the wealthy among us to do their part. We saw a similar story unfold in the 1930s and it didn't end well. History is repeating itself."

"After six Harper budgets, the corporate share of federal revenue has fallen to 1930s levels, millionaires are paying taxes at rates last seen in the 1920s, and the top 1% are capturing more of the gains from growth than at any time in history," says CCPA Senior Economist Armine Yalnizyan.

"This budget fails to address the pressures of a middle class losing ground and young people struggling to find work," says Yalnizyan. "It takes us backward in terms of retirement and environmental protection. With the exception of education and water needs for First Nations, it ignores the need to repair our aging infrastructure. The books will be balanced, but we'll all pay the price." 

The CCPA is also critical of the lack of transparency within the budget, saying many planned job and service cuts weren't spelled out today.

"Budgets are about making clear your plans to Canadians but, on many fronts, what this government tabled today was a hide-and-seek budget," says Macdonald. "This budget raises more questions than it answers. You can't get rid of the deficit this quickly without inflicting a lot of pain on Canadians. Whether it's a hatchet job or death by a thousand tiny cuts, Canadians will pay a steep price—one this government could have avoided."

SOURCE Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

For further information:

Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Senior Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306

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