Policy Commentary

Throne Speech: Failing Working Families

While consumer protection measures are needed, they do not address the real challenges that Canadians are dealing with.  The challenges that Canadians are dealing with are: an eroding middle class, $81 billion dollars of revenues lost to avoidance through tax havens, and a public service that is wrongfully blamed for the fiscal state that our nation faces.

The Speech from the Throne would like us to believe that the government is focused on job creation and rebuilding our economy. But how is that possible when the most powerful tool to bolstering the economy is the growth of the middle class. The throne speech contained no strategy to foster this growth.

Data from reputable sources, including a presentation from the Department of Finance Canada titled The Economic and Financial Situation of the Canadian Middle Class reveals that middle-class incomes are stagnating, leading to growing inequalities that are detrimental to our society and our economy. Canada’s middle class average income has increased by merely 7% since 1976, which equates to a meager 0.2% yearly wage growth over the past 37 years when adjusted for inflation. Over the past four years that dismal growth has actually fallen behind inflation.

The gap between the “rich” and the “poor” continues to widen and living standards for the average Canadian are in a downward spiral. If the middle-class continues its slide into obscurity, so does our economy. Government needs to focus on creating meaningful and sustainable jobs.

Austerity is not working. Any savings found in cost-cutting pales in comparison to the lost revenues of $81 billion annually. Yes, $81 billion dollars annually is lost in tax revenues attributed to multi-national corporations tax avoidance schemes. This is a number worth chasing. This amount of money would greatly contribute to both balancing the budget and also providing needed services to Canadians. Where is the plan to recover this $81 billion? These corporations operate in Canada; they use our nation’s infrastructure, roadway, bridges, seaways, employee education and social programs, yet they do not pay their fair share of taxes. While hardworking Canadians are expected to play by the rules and pay their fair share of taxes, the same should be expected of multinationals.

While Public Servants are wrongfully being blamed for the economic challenges that our nation faces, the real genesis of those challenges was the 2008 financial collapse. This collapse was authored by some of the very people who benefit most from favourable tax haven loopholes.

There is a very easy answer to the challenges that we face as a nation. It does not involve increasing taxes or blaming those who provide public services, or even cutting services to Canadians. Simply collect what is rightfully owed to the nation. Stop the tax avoidance schemes and ensure that everyone – including multi-nationals – pay their fair share of taxes, and you will have found an $81 billion dollar solution. With this revenue you can reduce the national debt, increase services, provide better protection for your citizens through reasonable oversight, and shape a more prosperous future for our children.

 

16/10/2013

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