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.
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.
Filed Under: News • Top StoriesTags: business • education • government • NDP • politics • Research • SSHRC
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.