The Xerox Budget

Analysis of the 2010 Federal Budget by David MacDonald, coordinator of the CCPA’s Alternative Federal Budget:

If there was any policy recalibration due to prorogation, it was on their photocopier as 94% of this budget’s spending has already been announced.  The problem when you photocopy your work is that you don’t learn anything from the process.  That is certainly true of the Harper government.  The Conservative reforms to EI were meant to help more of the jobless, yet half of all unemployed Canadians still can’t access EI.  The concern last year was that EI recipients would exhaust their benefits before they got another job and that is exactly what is happening.  Last year’s plan isn’t working to address this year’s challenges.

It also appears that the Harper government isn’t seeing what most Canadians are seeing which is plenty of advertising and little actual building of infrastructure.  Instead of cutting red tape to get infrastructure programs moving, the government is cutting regulations on uranium mines.

Government spending is capped more generally with strategic reviews forcing departments to cut 5% of their programs when the review gets to them.  The glaring omission to these caps is the defense department that continues to grow at its pre-established rate until 2012 when the growth rate slows slightly.  Although there is plenty of talk about Canada’s positive role in Haiti and Afghanistan, international development spending that makes that possible has been capped making these types of interventions much harder in the future.

What is little advertised in this budget is that much of the deficits going forward are being caused by the continuing corporate tax cuts worth on average $4 billion a year over the next 3 years.  It is also worthwhile noting that while building stimulus infrastructure ends next year, the tax cut measures introduced as stimulus will continue to erode revenues indefinitely.

The 6% of newly announced programs are more weighted with fluff than actual new spending.  Similar to last year’s stimulus budget, there is no coherent vision for the future.  There is a smattering of small new spending efforts with a lot of padding for government programs that are paid for out of existing funds.  Seniors are given their own holiday, but no action on pensions is taken.  Some small new amounts are spent on university research, but nothing is done to address crippling student debt.

Despite its title, this isn’t a leadership budget, it is an acceleration of Harper’s Americanization of Canada with “race to bottom” corporate tax rates, and an ever expanding military.  The jobless are left to fend for themselves and national planning for the future beyond balanced books is completely off the table.  While the military is exempt from spending caps, addressing foreign policy goals like rebuilding Haiti after the earthquake are a secondary priority as international development funding also gets capped.  All in all, this is much more representative of the Conservatives vision of Canada, unfortunately it has nothing to do with a proactive vision for the future.

One comment

  • I posted a lot of commentary links to labourstart this morning from various unions and progressive orgs, but I have to say this is the best titled one so far!

    Toby you should post your CUPE analysis here as well, as I did see some detail in yours that I hadn;t seen elsewhere.

    I was just gonna shut the hell up on this budget but that just would not be in my nature!

    However there is not much to say- except apparently things are just about fine and well in the Canadian economy again. That is, if you happen to find yourself in possession of a lot of shares in the oil business or have a lot of wealth.

    The environmental assessment agency being passed over to the oil industry is a real porcupine in the ass for me.

    And ditto in the jobs and lack of green stuff and expansion of crisis measures for adjustment and transfers.

    At the heart of the pain however, is the whole missing the complete bigger picture that business as usual is not an acceptable approach anymore. The economy of the future is not that which Canada is on target for developing, and that which we will need to fund social cohesion in the distance. Not even a slight glimmer of that vision is apparent. Hardly a mention of innovation within the many dimensions whether it be industry, human resources, education, training, trasnfers, tax incentives- not a one is hardly addressed but as an afterthought- and the green goal is totally abandoned.

    Sad- as a Canadian I am thinking given the reduction in international relief, we sure burnt the podium down on this one. So I hope Harper quits getting invited to all these global leadership initiatives as we can no longer talk as we can’t walk.

    Actually the international relief reductions is the second big porcupine that Harper has stuck in the Canadian’s collective ass. Burn the podium should be our new motto for international efforts. Unfortunately for the the poor of the world Canadians don’t view charity anymore as a high priority. Now that is definitely getting at the core of the conservative agenda-

    “Charity stops at home”- should be our collective bumper sticker on Harper’s air force 2 plane.


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