According to a recent CCPA report, the top one per cent of Canadians are “increasing their share of income at a historic pace, with wealth concentrated in a way that hasn’t been seen since the 1920s.” Conservative policies are exacerbating this.
1a) The Conservatives decided to scrap the mandatory long-form census – in spite of its usefulness to economists, social scientists, businesses, municipalities, health researchers, and more.
1b) One of many civil servants mistreated by the Harper government was Munir Sheikh, who resigned as Canada’s chief statistician after Industry Minister Clement gave the impression that Sheikh supported the census cut. (See Bev Oda above.) “It really cast doubt on the integrity of the agency,” Sheikh later told a House of Commons committee.
1c) It has been estimated that the new, voluntary census to be introduced this year will produce poorer economic data – weakening the government’s ability to make policy and run programs. It will also cost $30 million – more than the thorough one it is replacing.
2) Save the Children and UNICEF recently reported that Canada is falling behind other developed countries when it comes to the well-being of its poorest children. We rank 17th among 24 industrialized countries in terms of material well-being — including family income and housing.
3) Food Bank usage is up 28 per cent over the past two years.
4) Canada is the only G8 country without an affordable housing program. Affordable housing is key to fighting child poverty, creating jobs, and tackling homelessness. The number of homeless Canadians dying from tuberculosis is rising.
5a) Despite the fact that Harper always has women sitting around him in the House of Commons, the International Parliamentary Union ranks Canada 51st when it comes to equality in national parliaments. Only 30 percent of Harper’s Senate appointees are women – a drop from 45 percent under Chretien.
5b) The government drastically cut funding for Status of Women Canada and even took the word “equality” out of its mandate. He has eroded pay equity, calling it “a rip off.” In spite of the fact that the House of Commons has been calling for a comprehensive national strategy to combat violence against women since 2008, the government has failed to act.
6a) Canada was one of only four countries which voted against the UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights when passed by the General Assembly in 2007. (That stance has since been reversed.)
6b) Another of the Harper government’s first acts was to cancel the Kelowna Accord, designed to help Aboriginal citizens receive higher standards of clean water, housing, education, and more. Forty per cent of Aboriginals in their early 20s do not have a high school diploma; reserve schools generally get $2,000 less per student than off-reserve schools.
6c) Shawn Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, has said the Harper government is ignoring his people while unilaterally pushing legislation that will affect them: a bill allowing Ottawa to set regulations to improve the shocking state of on-reserve drinking water (with no added money), and another looking into the payments of reserve chiefs. Atleo said both bills ignore the accountability gap within the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs itself, as revealed by the Auditor General. Nevertheless, the water regulatory bill gives all power to the federal government, overriding existing reserve bylaws.
7) “Cheating Veterans” – That’s how former Veterans’ Ombudsman, Col. Pat Stogran, whose term wasn’t renewed after he spoke out, described the Harper government’s 2006 replacement of life-time pensions for disabled veterans with “lump sum” payouts. This has cost veterans hundreds of thousands in support.
8) National Defence Ombudsman Pierre Daigle has also spoken out about the unsympathetic treatment of the families of dead soldiers. He said his decision to go public followed a long, frustrating battle to get better treatment for these families.
9a) Since Harper took power the Conservatives have revamped Canada’s immigration system. Said one report: “ … they have deprived newcomers of the family support they need to integrate successfully, off-loaded responsibility for immigration, and given Canada a harsher, more forbidding face.” Family class immigrants have dropped by 10,000; the number of refugees is down by 25 percent, and visas for skilled workers are going to be cut, too. Instead, Canada admitted 180,000 temporary foreign workers last year – a source of low-cost labour for Harper’s corporate friends.
9b) The Conservatives are cutting $53 million from immigrant service agencies across the country. These settlement agencies offer language courses, help new Canadians find jobs, and other integration programs. Many will have to close. Ontario Immigration minister Eric Hoskins noted that: "Their specialties can't be replaced … They are upset at what they called the ‘blunt' and ‘brutal' manner the news was delivered to them, in a letter, two weeks before the holiday. None understands the justification and rationale behind it."