Monday, December 13, 2010

Goodale Offers Good Advice To Canadian Families

Back in the 80s, when he was Leader of the Sask Provincial Liberals, Ralph Goodale was critical of the spending and deficits of the Sask Conservatives... The Province was loaded with debt, and the economy was looking to take a downturn. Poor Conservative choices on tax cuts, frivolous Conservative spending on pet projects, and poor Conservative economic outlook had that Province on the brink.

At the time Goodale was the only Sask politico advocating restraint and prudence. As the years went on, and the late 80s rolled out, Saskatchewanians realized the truth in Goodale's words.

Today Ralph offers another bit of sage advice to those who'll be wise enough to listen...


Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney has been vocal this fall, warning the Harper government about the precarious state of the world economy (and Canada’s), and the corresponding vulnerability of average Canadian families.

Mr. Carney has highlighted:

• This country’s poor productivity rates and our weak capacity to innovate;

• Our middling performance in terms of learning, skills and brainpower;

• Our over-reliance on US markets for our exports and our neglect of emerging economic giants in India and China;

• Canada’s rapidly ageing population as big numbers of Baby Boomers begin to reach 65;

• The declining quality of our job market, with unemployment stubbornly higher than two years ago, part time jobs replacing full-time work, and thousands of young people giving up their search for employment.

Especially, Mr. Carney has warned about record levels of household indebtedness. Over the past five years, the debt loads carried by Canadian families have exploded – to nearly $100,000 on average.

For every one-dollar of disposable income, the typical Canadian family is saddled with $1.47 in debt – the worst in the western world. This spells high risk and vulnerability.

Given the financial turmoil in Europe (Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, etc.), the chances of another global downturn are rising. Add the deteriorating situation in the United States and the American government in stalemate, and the dangers are clear.

How should government respond?

In my view, the most pressing need is to help average middle-class families deal with their most vital household costs without further aggravating their debt problems.

Offsetting some of the burdens of getting their kids into higher education, or caring for sick or ageing loved ones at homes, or securing better retirement incomes would help families make ends meet.

It would also contribute to a more inclusive workforce and greater productivity and competitiveness.

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