David’s Budget Notes

Its amazing how much a budget can contain while avoiding addressing the most critical questions of an economic crisis: How are we helping the most vulnerable, particularly those who have lost their jobs?


With over $2.6 billion in spending on additional EI and retraining programs in 2009, the government has managed to not allow one additional unemployed person to enter the program.  If you’re already in EI, there are significantly more dollars for retraining but when it comes to your basic benefits, you won’t see an extra dime.


While those who recently lost their jobs get no support, broad base tax cuts are a windfall for the wealthy.  The average Canadian household can expect to receive a little over $300 next year.  However, Canadian’s making over $150,000 will get a $900 cheque in the mail.  The amount given away in tax cuts mostly benefiting the rich would more than double what is needed to reform EI and make it accessible many more unemployed Canadians. 


Only 5% of this economic crisis budget is actually devoted to tax measures to help vulnerable low income Canadians.  In 2009-10 there is twice as much spent on a tax break for home renovations than spent on those with low incomes.  In the coming recession, the government will help you adjust the colour palette of your kitchen, but if you’re poor you’ll be on your own.


On the plus side, there are stimulus dollars for infrastructure.  To spend these dollars, the feds could have used the pre-existing gas tax mechanism that already directs infrastructure funds to the cities.  Instead, infrastructure funding is tied up with conditions and joint payments creating a new mechanism that promises to slow not expedite this critical component. 


When it comes to building a deck on your cottage, the government is on your side.  If you want public infrastructure dollars to create jobs, start filling out the forms.


While the Tories have improved their public relations since the November EFS, real support for the hardest hit Canadians simply goes to far for them.  As such, the most vulnerable will see the least support and will suffer needlessly through the coming recession.



David Macdonald

AFB Coordinator for the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives


  • Surely the middle class tax cuts are Harper’s poison pill, a partisan political gambit placing Harper’s interests ahead of Canada’s.

    With a government, thoroughly defunded in good times and now facing a stimulus deficit, where does the money come from for tax cuts?

    We watched Bush spend most of his presidency granting tax cuts for the most advantaged which could only be paid for by additional borrowings from foreign lenders. In other words he was pledging the promise and good credit of future, working class Americans to deliver today unwise and unaffordable tax relief to the most privileged.

    The middle class taxpayers who stand to benefit are those who have managed to keep their jobs and their incomes in this highly uncertain economy. These tax cuts might be defensible if there was reason to believe that those middle class tax cut beneficiaries would inject that money into the sort of spending that could be said to be stimulus in nature. The opposite is true. They will either hoard that money or use it to pay off debt for goods and services purchased in the past that will contribute nothing to any stimulus today.

    I think this is a disgraceful sham. The only question now is whether Ignatieff will validate it by supporting Harper’s budget chicanery.

  • These comments by David catch the flavour of the budget exactly in my opinion.
    Politically the Tories are daring the Liberals to oppose them, and go into an election. The Liberals are trapped. If they vote no, they have to produce something better. If they vote yes, they are only postponing to a later moment a no vote to when the Tories can force an election without having to fear the coalition option.

  • it can’t be terribly hard for the Liberals to come up with a better budget than that piece of___.

    even if it was just a sketch from the earlier coalition agreement or lines from the AFB.

    there is simply no way anyone can let those spit-in-your-face jokers continue to destroy the country.

  • I do not see that it matters what the CPC budget looks like. They are well known to be devious and deceitful and such, with convenient memories and quite competent at stalling. To my mind two questions are relevent. One is what the coaliton budget looks like. The other is whether the CPC can be trusted to implement even the pitiful budget that they have promised. This second question is a no brainer.

    From what I see they want to buy our support with about $200 of tax cuts, hoping we will not notice the additional user fees, the reduced services, the increased property taxes. Can our support and conscience be bought for so little?

    I trusted more and had a lot more respect for Dion than I do for Ignatieff.

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