Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cutting Our Social Programs:

The Conservative agenda runs counter to the opinions of the majority of Canadians.  A recent Focus Canada survey revealed that our spending priorities are still social programs and the environment, not jets, prisons, and tax cuts for highly profitable corporations.  

1) Reflecting his small-government ideology, Harper wants the federal government to abandon certain financial and administrative responsibilities – returning to an era 50 years ago before our nation-building social programs. Instead, his government “will look to innovative charities and forward-thinking private-sector companies to partner on new approaches to many social challenges.”  Victorian England? 

2) Harper thinks Medicare is provincial and wants to break it up.  While heading the National Citizens Coalition, Harper said “the feds” should scrap the Canada Health Act.  He doesn’t dare repeat that now, but he rules as though the law guaranteeing Canadians universality, portability, accessibility, and more doesn’t exist. Measures to encourage the provinces to comply with the Act aren't being enforced.

2b) After five years of Conservative government, the Canadian Medical Association warned in early 2011 that public health care is in decline. Five million Canadians have no family doctor, emergency departments are overloaded, services for the mentally ill are minimal, and many patients can’t afford the drugs they need or a bed in long-term care when they need it.

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2c) Already it has been shown that Canada/EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) now being negotiated will cost Canada almost $3 Billion by protecting European Big Pharma patents, holding up generic alternatives.
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3a) Although seniors’ incomes have dropped for the first time in decades, it is clear the Harper government is laying the groundwork to replace Canada’s well-run, cost-effective, and stable CPP with a private, more expensive pension scheme – the  Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP), run by banks, mutual fund and insurance industries.  (Weren’t they behind the Financial Crisis?) One of the few media pundits to notice was the Toronto Star’s Heather Mallick: “When Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, the government of Alberta and insurance giant Sun Life all agree that a national privatized pension plan is a great idea for your retirement, be very afraid. Feel your fear and let your anger flower.”

3b) According to Sun Life Financial, Canadians are much less optimistic about retirement – and the average Canadian expects to retire at age 68, three years later than reported a year ago. The confidence level of working Canadians slumped to a low 39 in 2011, from 50 in 2008 and 51 in 2009. At the end of 2009, Canadians still believed recovery from the recession would be quicker than they now believe, but unemployment remained relatively high.

3c) When older workers stay on the job it affects the labour market, resulting in fewer job openings and increased competition for younger people. Canada’s youth jobless rate is 14.4 per cent.
3d) In the 2011 federal budget, responding to demands by the NDP, the government offered low-income seniors an extra $300 million annual enhancement to the Guaranteed Income Supplement. The NDP had requested $700 million.

3e) The government ignored the NDP’s request for a doubling of CPP benefits.

4) Harper’s Income Trust “betrayal.” In 2005, Harper wrote: "Income trusts are popular with seniors because they provide regular payments that are used by many to cover the costs of groceries, heating bills and medicine." Then, without notice or consultation, he terminated them.

5) One of Harper’s first acts as prime minister was to cancel nearly $4 Billion for child care and early learning funding, destroying the Liberal move toward a national program. It was replaced by a taxable $100 monthly cheque for children under six.  (Babysitting cost for two nights out?)

6) The Conservatives’ obsession with business has led them to divert research money from the social sciences – social work, health, education, literacy, poverty reduction – and the humanities to commerce, over-riding Canada’s independent research council. As well as narrowing the research subjects, critics fear this is “setting a dangerous precedent” that could give government the ability to direct funding to disciplines with more political clout.

7) Don’t forget Harper supports Charter schools, often used to undermine the public education system.

7 comments:

  1. The question to ask Canadians who support Harper is if they personally can afford to spend more money out of pocket for basic health coverage. Harper has never contradicted his statements from 1997, and in fact as part of the Reform Party he suggested Canadians should be permitted to obtain private health coverage for basic health care. Many cannot get basic health insurance due to pre-existing conditions or these plans are too costly.

    The other question to ask is if their household can afford to live on ONE income. At present over 75 - 80% of families need two or more incomes to meet basic needs. Harper remains in the delusion that most Canadian families have a single income earner that makes about as much as he does, and as such, does not need to have the other spouse working. News flash. I am from a single income family, me being the single earner, and I am very deeply into debt from paying for basic groceries, everything. I can't continue like this, and serious reform needs to be put into place.

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  2. From a Liberal letter to voters, April 18, 2011:

    ... Here are the facts.

    Harper hasn’t spent a cent on health care that wasn’t already committed by a Liberal government. And now he says he’ll cut $11 billion in government services but won’t say on what.

    Stephen Harper has refused to meet with the provinces on health care, because he says the Federal government should play no role in protecting and improving the health care system.

    During the Leaders' Debate on April 12, 2011, Stephen Harper said "we're not going to wave the finger at provinces because they experiment with different delivery.”

    And he has said on the record in the House of Commons that he is open to “private, for profit” health care in Canada ...

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  3. harper's super-rich/powerful friends and the super ignorant put harper and his criminal cabal into office. We, most of the the rest of voting Canada, stayed home on voting day in our asinine little stupor of apathy and let this occur. We are now going to experience/suffer the consequences of our decision. It's too late to bitch and whine now. If we can't remove him from office, we will just have to remember our mistakes the next time a federal election comes up and not repeat that mistake. Hopefully our woefully short memories won't affect us again at that time.

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  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  5. When the Canadian people have a PM who believes that economics trumps the environment, ya gotta know that WE'RE SCREWED!!

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  6. Seriously. He's the devil in disguise, I don't think people would want someone who doesn't care about anyone's well being but is own to run a world, so ask yourself. Would you let the devil, run your world?

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  7. I agree, Harper is a disturbing individual. He seems to have secret agendas, why else the stoney wall of silence, his dismissive attitude to those who have questions for him. And what a busy fellow he's been, like destroying climate change data that was gathered by the previous Liberal government, firing Environment Canada scientists, allowing an important Arctic research station to close down. He pretty much does as he pleases, and for some reason, never seems to have to account for it. He can be in contempt of Parliament (refusing to present budget for Prisons), prorogue Parliament at will, cut funding to a charity because they're unhappy with his record on the environment....we're going to have to be ready for the next election with our own attack ads!! No shortage of material!

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