Alex Sangha: There are alternatives to Stephen Harper’s poor social policies

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      Stephen Harper was president of the National Citizens Coalition from 1998 to 2002. This organization is a conservative lobby group. The NCC advocates for smaller government and lower taxes, and they are against public services and trade unions. They even have a history of actively lobbying against the Canada Wheat Board and the Canada Health Act.

      It is no surprise, therefore, that Stephen Harper is taking steps to dismantle Canada’s universal health care program by cutting transfers to the provinces. Now he’s floating the idea of making drastic changes to Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

      These decisions are bad social policy. Canada is the envy of the world because of its universal health care program. It’s of significant benefit to citizens, employers, and the overall health and welfare of the country. This “socialized medicine”, as the NCC likes to call it, is also much more efficiently administered than the U.S. health care system, which, until recently with Obama’s health care plan, left millions of Americans without health care coverage.

      Furthermore, Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement keep millions of seniors out of dire poverty. Increasing the eligibility to age 67 from 65 would provide undue hardship on many seniors who would have to work an extra two years, and it would take jobs away from younger people in the workforce, many of whom who have families to support.

      There are two ways to address the problem of an aging population. These are providing incentives for Canadians to have more babies and increasing investor, economic, and labour immigration. Both these solutions require people working in good jobs and paying taxes. Let the seniors retire in peace and leave the jobs for the younger people who need them!

      Is Harper taking advantage of the global debt or Eurozone crisis to gut Canada’s cherished national social programs? It is difficult to say. I find it strange, however, that Harper has billions of dollars to build new prisons across this country but no money for health care or social services which actually might reduce and prevent crime.

      Many right-wing conservative people think that health, education, and social services should be left to the nonprofit sector and charities. This will essentially result in a piecemeal approach to the social welfare of Canadians as there is no stable funding to pay for programs and services. The extremes between the rich and poor will increase and crime will increase as people turn to survival instincts to get by. Maybe that is why Harper wants to spend billions on prisons. He doesn’t want anarchy to fill the streets of Canadian cities due to a lack of space in our prisons. What Harper doesn’t realize is that it’s cheaper to provide Canadians with modest social benefits than incarcerate them and pay for police, court, and prison-related costs for a convicted criminal.

      So what are some alternatives to this cutting spending and gutting of social programs? Well, first Harper can come to the realization that Canadians may be willing to pay higher premiums to safeguard their health care and pensions.

      Health care delivery can be made more efficient as well. For example, government purchasing clerks can partly work on a savings commission. This will provide them with an incentive to get the best deal on any item they purchase.

      Furthermore, wealthy Canadians can have the option of returning their pension cheques and making tax-deductible donations to wipe out the debt. Not to mention, billionaires and the rich can start paying the same percentage of their income in tax as someone earning $100,000 per year. Time for some tax fairness for everyone.

      Last, the government can streamline international adoptions to eventually beef up our working age population and ensure all colleges and universities offer small business entrepreneurship bachelor and master degrees. Everything from idea conception to business plan development and project start-up including access to financing. Now this is something I am sure Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the NCC will like.

      Alex Sangha is a registered social worker and the author of The Modern Thinker.

      Comments

      13 Comments

      e.a.f.

      Jan 30, 2012 at 3:56pm

      Sangha's suggestions are all good. They would work; they would save money, but Harper isn't interested in saving money. He is only interested in his idiology. He has 4 years to dismantle Canada and he will move as quickly as possible. We gave him his majority and now we will see what happens.

      He has been big on telling us he has been good for the economy and we have a strong dollar. What people need to think about is, how many of those strong dollars are in their personal pockets.

      Social problems increased in the U.S.A. as politicians dismantled the social programs put in to place by Lyndon Johnson. We have seen how well that worked for the Americans but Harper isn't interested in this.

      He believes big business can be more efficient even though statistics have clearly demonstrated the U.S.A. system costs more to run. The paper work for the American medical system takes up much more money than the Canadian system.

      Increasing the pensionable age has nothing to do with money it has everything to do with gutting social programs. Harper & his ilk believe people need to look after themselves.

      Prisons haven't worked for the American judicial system or its citizens but it has made multi millionaires of those who run private prisons for the state. In states where they implemented "immigration" laws, the increased prison population resulted in private prisons being filled and the companies making much more money. Alabama is one of those states. By throwing "illegal immigrants" into jails it created an over crowding conditions which under law requires people to be moved. They were moved to privitized prisons in Tennesse.

      Harper is implementing his crime bill to increase the prison population so private prisons can be brought into this country and big prison corporations can increase their profits. He certainly can't be bringing in new laws because of an increasing crime rate. The crime rate in Canada has been constantly going down.

      The best we can do is wait out the 4 yrs and then vote in a government which will return Canada to its former self. In the mean time I would suggest people stay health and join protests.

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      NoLeftNutter

      Jan 30, 2012 at 4:11pm

      You can tell an article is going to be a load of heifer dust when the second paragraph identifies a committment to an ongoing 4% increase in health care funding as a "cut". Let's face it, there is no amount of taxation or spending that is too much for the left wing wackos. Hell, if the current generation doesn't have enough to bleed any more for their unending requests let's just mortgage the kids' future too.

      After all, the the wacky left cares about is lusting for power and clearly, they will say or do anything to try and win it. Fortunately, the maintream Canadian voters are smart enough not to fall for it.

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      GOT

      Jan 30, 2012 at 6:19pm

      There has never been a conservative prime minister in this country, starting with John A Mac himself who EVER saw Canada and Canadians as anything other than an opportunity for exploitation - to make themselves rich, their friends rich, and to hell with anything or anybody else!
      The so-called social 'safety net' that Canadians have in place with healthcare, educational opportunities, old age pensions, unemployment insurance and so on is due absolutely and completely to parties other than the Conservatives. Every conservative government that gets a majority immediately begins using it to destroy what Canadians need the most: a sense of unity in the country, equality for all, the 'community' of Canadian taxpayers who are willing and able help each other through thick and thin - you name it. If it's for the good of everyone, then Conservatives hate it. If it puts money in THEIR pockets, it's 'good for Canada'. Bull fucking shit. You want to be living under a bridge, eating cat food if you're lucky when you're forty years old? Then keep voting for Harper, because that's where he's taking this country, as fast as he and his greedy little buddies can take it.

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      KiDDAA Magazine

      Jan 30, 2012 at 7:14pm

      The alternative no longer exists he has a majority.
      This right winged, Christian right goverment is even more right than the Obama administration. Who at least foreign policy wise is trying to refrain from war and more war.

      Harper on the other hand wanted CDN troops in Iraq, and now in Iran based on the facts, they have no nuclear weapons.

      That aside building more jails, locking up more people, and more stringent drug laws, and less education, will not work in Canada, and has failed miserably in America.

      The people of Canada do not reflect Harper or the Conservatives ideology. Whether it be gays, people of colour, or white people, Harper and his ilk resemble Alberta not all of Canada.

      In the end of the day do your part to eliminate racism, hate, not only between races but within races.

      I have met too many East Indians who are not only narrow minded, but stupid, and those are the ones who usually vote Conservative, or far right. Fear is not a good reason for voting.

      The people who now voted for Harper and the Cons will now see, how Canada is slowly changing to the right. The rest of the world saw it, the UN saw it and sadly this article is about 2 years late.

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      KiDDAA Magazine

      Jan 30, 2012 at 7:20pm

      You know when Newt Gingrich thinks you are cool, you are a pretty right winged, evangelical.
      This is one reason why 19-35 could care about voting. Look at the candidates, they rally around religion, talk about endless war based on lies, slash education, and make bigger jails.
      Canada is a fantastic country, with its diversity and love, but are political parties, besides the NDP and once the Liberals are a joke.
      Sangha never mentioned that Harpers party used to be the far right Reform Alliance. The fact he was elected by only 40 percent of Canada, showed not how good a candidate he was, but how bad the others were. Layton was great but Albertan hicks, and white is right would never vote for a guy, with a Chinese wife.
      At the end of the day racists are essentialy racists.
      Polticis is not about ideology its about who has the biggest pockets. Newt in the US if funded by a right winged billionaire. Essentially its no longer about politics but money and the evangelicals. Its about fear baby and thats what people buy. Long gone are the days of real politics, about youth and education. Outsource it baby.

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      scathie

      Jan 30, 2012 at 8:02pm

      "Canada is the envy of the world because of its universal health care program"

      Really? Envy of the world at #30?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Health_Organization_ranking_of_health...

      Sounds like you've been listening to too much domestic propaganda. Try going somewhere else in the world and actually see how other people live. You'd be surprised how much we have to learn from the world.

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      bobo

      Jan 30, 2012 at 8:14pm

      Dude, Canada's universal health care system is certainly not the envy of the world. If it was, you wouldn't have to wait years for surgery.

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      KiDDAA Magazine

      Jan 30, 2012 at 8:38pm

      The Georgia Straigh beside KiDDAA Magazine www.kiddaa.com, The Link, Voice, Toronto Star are one of the few non corporate owned media that doesn't flat out lie.
      The National Post is a joke of a paper owned by warmongers, big oil and some very nasty white people. They also own Vancouver Sun, Province, Canwest Globa and most of Canada's newspapers.
      Luckily most people get alternative news and media from the Internet. Because these mostly white, older, right winged buffoons keep lying and getting caught with their pants down. But its ok they got Jesus on their side.
      Media needs to be for the people and about people not corporate or religious agendas.

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      Jason

      Jan 30, 2012 at 9:45pm

      Canada ranks 30th out of 190 countries in the world health ranking above. That places it in the top 15.8% of the world. This is not bad considering most Canadians have health insurance and dont have to worry about crippling health care bills. Try living in the US and not having the money to provide health insurance to your children. Then you will start to appreciate Canada and its health and social programs.

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      e.a.f.

      Jan 31, 2012 at 1:55am

      We are not mortgaging the future of our children. We are trying to protect it.
      Since the 1960s there has been a reversal of who paid how much in taxes. In the 1960's corporations paid more taxes than the "citizens" of Canada. Over a period of years this was reversed by the 1980s.

      Corporations continue to be provided with tax breaks even when they are highly profitable. Check and see how many tax breaks the oil companies get from the government.

      When Harper says we don't have enough money to fund social programs what he really means is we don't have enough money because he keeps lowering taxes, especially for corporations.

      Canada has an excellent medical system. Yes there are countries who do better but then again, they have a higher tax rate and a number of those countries are socialist. So to those who say our medical system isn't good enough and private enterprise can do better, not so. In any country which has only private medical systems working people and children do not receive adequate medical care. This placed the U.S.A. in the same category as China, South Africa, etc.

      Without our current health care system future generations will suffer. Children will not receive treatment and neither will those who can't afford it.
      In Canada when a child is sick you go to the doctor or hospital and you are taken care of. In the U.S.A. the first thing they want is money. no money, you go home without care. 45 thousand americans die each year because they can not afford medical care. Our system maybe slow, we may have waiting lists but we don't cut off your leg because you can't afford the surgery to repair it, you don't die of cancer because you can't afford the treatment, your baby isn't born in poor health because you couldn't afford prenatal care.

      Canada isn't perfect but try living in some other countries. Western European countries do have excellent social and health services but they do have higher taxes. However, if Harper has his way we will be looking more like the U.S.A. or Mexico or China.

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