Despite a comparatively small population, Canada has one of the world’s largest Gross Domestic Products (a key indicator of overall economic health). Yet over 1.2 million of our children across the country live in poverty.
The problem is the federal budget, says the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Rather than reflecting the needs of most Canadians, the CCPA suggests, government budgets often favour elite business interests and emerge from brazen electoral strategies. Since 1994, the centre has produced its own alternative budgets after a lengthy consulation with a range of civil society organizations. And they just released the results of a poll indicating that a majority of Canadians would support a government committed to reducing the gap between the rich and the poor.
Is that what the impending Tory budget will do? The CCPA is not holding its breath. Instead, it just released its own kick at the can, showing what could be done differently to promote social justice while maintaining a balanced budget. A few of the highlights: an increased minimum wage, honouring agreements with First Nations and increasing funding for women’s programs instead of cutting them. The difference could be made up in part by additional taxes on the rich and eliminating tax loopholes that unfairly benefit large corporations.
The CCPA notes the Tories are currently promoting a spending spree of their own, with a panoply of promises seemingly designed to curry favour before an expected election: “The Harper government is on the brink of exhausting its fiscal surplus on a pre-election spending plan that is at odds with what Canadians want. According to their senior economist Ellen Russell, the Tories’ numbers just don’t add up. “Prime Minister Harper’s tax cuts plan is so expensive, he may soon find himself having to choose between putting the nation back into deficit or slashing programs,” she argues.
Dreaming of a just Canada is one thing. Devising a tactical plan to help us get there is another altogether. To have a detailed look at the CCPA’s vision for a different tomorrow, view their report here.