It didn’t get much coverage in the mainstream media, but last week the big banks told Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to take his foot off the brake when it comes to public sector spending.
The banks argue with a weakening economy, now is not the time for restraint. That could mean pushing back Ottawa’s target to wipe out a $26 billion federal budget deficit by $5 billion per year.
“You won’t have many economists — or the bond market, which is perhaps a more critical vote — end up criticizing Canada if a couple of years down the road, instead of having a balanced budget, we have a $2 or $3 billion deficit,” CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld told the Toronto Star last week.
It’s a rare meeting of minds – the same message is being delivered by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, who argue economic growth is more important right now than the deficit.
Private sector economists are predicting economic growth in Canada will slow to 1.5 per cent for 2013.
If the economists left and right are telling Flaherty this, then Ontario’s Wynne government must be receiving the same message. This is important — if the provinces and the federal government are rowing in opposite directions, their initiatives would likely cancel each other out.
You can also bet that new Ontario finance Minister Charles Sousa – who emerged from the world of banking – is also listening to his former colleagues.
Poverty kills more people than cancer according to Dennis Howlett, Executive Director of Canadians for Tax Fairness.
Speaking Thursday night at the Peterborough health care forum organized by the Ontario Health Coalition, Howlett addressed false economies in our present health system.
Panelists at the Peterborough health care forum Thursday night.
“There were going to freeze social assistance rates until the NDP negotiated a better deal,” said Howlett.,“yet the best way to reduce health care costs is to reduce poverty.”
Howlett told the town hall meeting that poverty condemns people to a lifetime of poor health, yet the government is doing little to address these upstream issues.
The Ontario New Democrats are seeking your input into the provincial budget.
Tim Hudak and the Tories have already said they will vote against it. This gives the NDP the opportunity to push for meaningful changes.
Tuesday’s budget represents considerable austerity for health care, especially for hospitals which are expected to endure a freeze on their base budgets. It does nothing to address the lack of resources in mental health.
Coupled with cuts to affordable housing, a freeze on social assistance and delays in the promised increase to the Ontario Child Benefit, the budget does nothing to address the social determinants of health, placing even greater strain on the health system.
The NDP are asking what you like about the budget as well as what you dislike. They are also asking if you would support calling a snap election over the contents of the budget.
To have your say, click here.
Don Drummond certainly knows how to manufacture a crisis.
For several years now he has been telling us that public health care spending is out of control, and that if left unchecked, it would soon consume 70 per cent of the provincial budget. Since those projections, spending on health care has actually gone down as a share of provincial program spending, from 46 per cent to 42 per cent.
Oddly, despite a trend line going in the opposite direction, Drummond continues to maintain this forecast.
Now, as Commissioner for Public Service Reform, he is telling us that if we don’t enter into a period of extreme austerity, we will soon be the Greece of Canada.
Don’t break out the tzatziki sauce yet.