The recent federal budget is an unfair plan which prioritizes tax breaks for wealthier families, while doing little for the middle class and those who aspire to achieve it. Measures to stimulate economic growth and jobs are strangely absent.
The Conservative government has mismanaged the Canadian economy by betting on the oil sands, while their recently released economic plan is founded on quicksand. The razor-thin 2015-16 “surplus” was generated by raiding $2 billion from the budget’s already modest contingency fund, and prematurely selling one-time assets like the government’s GM shares. Future surpluses imprudently count on significant future increases in oil prices and revenues. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s new focus is major tax breaks for those who need it the least. The budget barely mentions First Nations and the environment is nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, the economy has flat-lined, Canadian families are struggling to get by, and too many young people can’t find a meaningful job.
As it stands, Canada’s economic outlook is quite troubling: the TD Bank has reported that unemployment is on the rise; CIBC says job quality is at the lowest point in 25 years; Business News Network is reporting the most pessimistic business outlook since the last recession; and the Bank of Canada says that substantial monetary stimulus is the only lifeline keeping Canada from falling back into recession.
Some may try to blame these worrying statistics on the global economy; however, Canada’s recovery is worse than many developed nations. In fact, the IMF forecasts that 129 other countries will grow faster than Canada. Undoubtedly, there were many steps that Harper could have taken to steer us clear from the problems we are facing today.
Instead he chose to make a reckless gamble by chaining Canada’s economy to the volatile oil industry. Now, we are experiencing the consequences of this poor policy decision. Within the last six months, the price of crude oil has dropped by 50 percent. Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz warned that the effect of the falling price of oil on Canada’s economy would be “atrocious”.
Canadian companies are closing up shop—and not just oil companies. These closures have a profound ripple effect on all Canadian businesses, leaving tens of thousands of Canadian workers unemployed. While the Conservatives are responsible for a failed economic policy, it is middle-class families who are bearing the repercussions.
The Liberal party believes that the government has a responsibility to foster a diversified economy that can withstand natural fluctuations in commodity prices. Unlike the current government’s reckless gamble on oil, the Liberal party plans to level the playing field for clean technologies, and we will invest in infrastructure, postsecondary education, and research and innovation to stimulate the economy over the long term. This would help Canada to finally meet its targets to reduce carbon pollution, create thousands of high-quality jobs, and bring long-term growth and prosperity to Canada’s middle class.
Working together, we can chart a course to a sustainable recovery.