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The federal government has disclosed its Economic Action Release plans for 2014, and at a time when Canadian athletes are making our nation proud at the Winter Games, we regret to say that this government did not turn in a podium-worthy performance with the budget
This government’s aim is clearly to reducing the federal deficit in time for the 2015 election. While we do not oppose this goal, what we do oppose is this government’s strategy for achieving it: demanding that average Canadians expect less and accept less.
In his budget speech today in the House of Commons, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty claimed that the Conservative government “did not [balance the budget] on the backs of ordinary Canadians,” and, “did not cut programs that Canadians rely on.” Our question for Mr. Flaherty is: when did retirees and veterans cease to be ordinary Canadians?
Under the 2014 Economic Action Release, public service retirees will see their Public Service Health Care Plan benefits slashed, and their own payments double. This plan would also triple the number of years of service required to be eligible for the plan.
As for the supposed lack of cuts in programs Canadians rely on, the recent plans to close many Veterans Affairs offices proves that statement patently false. Support to our veterans, brave Canadians who have already given so much, is being eliminated.
This is simply not necessary. According to Canadians for Tax Fairness, there is over 80 billion dollars left uncollected by federal and provincial governments due to tax avoidance schemes. Mr. Flaherty’s speech trumpeted this government’s intention to close tax loopholes, but the budget itself provided very little in the way of details about how this initiative would be accomplished and who it would affect. Would it, for example, apply to those who had participated in previous tax avoidance schemes and received a pass?
We at ACFO believe time for uninspired, ineffective, service-reducing “austerity” measures is over. It’s time for average Canadian citizens to stop footing the bill for corporations and the extremely wealthy. It’s time for innovation and for fairness demonstrated through a strong, solid position and a definitive plan of action that improves life for the majority of ordinary Canadians.
We are asking this government to do what it is supposed to do: start taking care of its citizens. Doing this requires fair, ethical, and financially sound management of public funds. As FIs like you, we know how crucial this is, not only to building a better future, but also to improving the present for all Canadians.
Milt Isaacs, CMA. CPFA
President, Association of Canadian Financial Officers