After provincial finance minister Ken Krawetz delivered the 2013-14 Saskatchewan budget yesterday, it’s finance minister Jim Flaherty’s turn to drop the 2013-14 federal budget today.
In the run-up to our March 21 issue, I did an interview with the head of the Saskatchewan branch of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Simon Enoch about the Alternative Federal Budget that the CCPA releases each year in advance of the federal budget that outlines priorities that it thinks the feds should focus on. The news brief ended up getting bumped for space. So I’m posting it after the jump for anyone who cares to read it. And you can find more about the CCPA budget proposal here.
CCPA PROPOSES ALTERNATIVE BUDGET
Austerity was the theme last year, and it looks like finance minister Jim Flaherty will be singing the same tune when he delivers the 2013-14 federal budget on March 21.
With the global economy stagnant, the Harper government says it has to rein in spending to keep the deficit from spiraling out of control. It’s a strategy numerous countries around the world are following. And according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, it’s a big mistake.
On March 12, the CCPA released its Alternative Federal Budget. It called for investment in child care, affordable housing, post-secondary education, First Nations housing and many other areas to improve living conditions for Canadians.
“The evidence from Europe has shown you can’t cut your way to growth,” says Simon Enoch, CCPA Saskatchewan branch head. “You look at the numbers… particularly the United Kingdom, one of the largest economies in the world. They’ve actually been contracting every quarter for quite awhile now.
“Given our fiscal position, we could make these investments and have a more sustained stimulus package going forward to ensure the economy gets back to full health,” says Enoch. “Then allow a growing economy to pay down the debt and deficit.”
The investments the CCPA advocates are all targeted to provide solid benefits. With Canada facing a serious problem with aging and crumbling roads, sewers, bridges and whatnot, Enoch observes, “the AFB dedicates money to improving infrastructure. That goes a long way toward increasing productivity and allowing the private sector to flourish.”
Social and cultural investments like housing, education and improved CPP benefits will also yield dividends, helping citizens become more productive while also reducing the cost of health, criminal justice and other social services.
To help pay for the programs, the CCPA budget includes revenue-generating measures like an inheritance tax on estates over $5 million, a withholding tax on tax havens, and a bump in corporate taxes to promote tax fairness.
“We know this government isn’t going to implement a lot of these proposals,” says Enoch. “But the AFB’s purpose is to show people the possibilities. We’re the 11th biggest economy in the world, and there are choices we can make [to achieve] a more progressive vision for Canada.”