OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 11, 2014) - The federal Conservatives' obsession with generating a budget surplus is coming at far too high a cost to Canadian workers. Cutting public services to pay for a surplus is hurting Canadians and not spurring any meaningful economic growth, says the country's largest union - the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
"This federal budget has only one purpose: create a budget surplus the federal Conservatives want for their 2015 election campaign, no matter what the cost to Canadians," says Paul Moist, national president of CUPE. "They can't run for re-election on their job creation record, they can't run on economic growth, and they definitely don't want to highlight their attempts to dismantle the middle class."
The 2014 federal budget maintains the irresponsible corporate tax rates brought in previous budgets that will only make more public service cuts necessary in order to rush a premature budget surplus. These spending cuts are slowing Canada's economic recovery, as indicated in a recent report from the IMF, and robbing Canadians of the public services they depend on.
"We needed a federal budget that works in the best interests of all Canadians - workers, students, veterans, seniors, everyone," says Moist. "Instead we got a do-nothing budget that only serves corporations and the wealthiest Canadians."
The 2014 federal budget contains no measures to adequately address retirement income insecurity and help the over 11 million Canadians without a workplace pension. There is little new public infrastructure spending apart from a few re-announcements of previous commitments. Overall, the budget has sparse new programs and small shifts in spending that gloss over the real problems facing Canadians.
"A budget surplus is a thin facade for the Conservatives' economic record," says Moist. "Weak economic growth, stagnant wages, more and more Canadians worried about how they can afford to retire, anemic employment rates - especially for our young people. This is not the record of good economic managers."
CUPE is calling for strengthened public services, investments in public infrastructure, and leadership from the federal government on expanding the Canada Pension Plan.
"We need investments that help working families make ends meet, like national child care funding, commitments to public health care, fair and accessible EI, an expanded CPP and reversed cuts to OAS/GIS," says Moist. "These are the responsible steps that would mark real leadership, all of them noticeably absent in this budget."