Mar 29, 2012 05:12 PM
2012 federal budget fails to help job creation; more bad choices on retirement security
The 2012 federal budget fails to provide any effective measures for urgently needed job creation and economic growth. Instead the Harper Conservative government has chosen an austerity agenda which will hurt the economy, endanger vital public services, and worsen the retirement income insecurity crisis, says Canada’s largest union – the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
“The 11 million Canadians without a workplace pension have been abandoned by the Harper Conservative government. These unnecessary and arbitrary cuts to Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement will only heighten the crisis,” says Paul Moist, national president of CUPE. “What we urgently need is real action by strengthening public pensions – the most effective and efficient way to help Canadians struggling to save for retirement.”
CUPE is advocating for a far more fair and equitable approach – a gradual doubling of Canada Pension Plan benefits that would provide a universal pension plan, at a decent retirement income level.
“Pension experts across the country agree OAS is sustainable. This budget only serves to distract from the real need to expand the CPP,” says Moist. “Retirement income insecurity is a national crisis. I repeat the labour movement’s call for a national summit on retirement security. It is long overdue that all aspects of this critical public policy issue were discussed by all stakeholders.”
The unnecessary cuts to OAS and GIS are indicative of the economic harm being caused by the austerity-driven budget, tabled today by Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. With a still struggling economy and high unemployment – especially among young Canadians – this budget is the wrong approach needed to help Canadian workers.
“Canada cannot shrink its way to jobs and economic growth. There are better choices, but in this budget, the Harper Conservatives would rather use the economic recovery as an excuse to erode wages, benefits, pensions, and shrink the government’s responsibilities to Canadian workers,” says Moist. “Slashing government revenues by continuing reckless corporate tax cuts is not creating jobs or economic growth.”
CUPE is calling for reforms to the tax system to make it more progressive – with profitable corporations and the wealthiest Canadians paying their fair share, closing tax loopholes, cutting off access to tax havens, and getting rid of ineffective tax credits that only benefit the rich.
Unlike the failed policies put forward by Minister Flaherty, such reforms would be more effective in protecting vital public services, and driving economic recovery in a way that will create more jobs for Canadian workers.
“We need to look at more equitable options than cutting public spending, and endangering the services Canadians depend on every day,” says Moist. “Our public health care system, our public infrastructure, our public pensions – these services are the great equalizers of our society and need to be strengthened.”