RALPH GOODALE’S REPORT
A weekly commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana
For the week beginning August 30th, 2010
CONSERVATIVES IGNORE AVERAGE MIDDLE INCOME FAMILIES
Whenever Stephen Harper is confronted with the daily pressures on average Canadian families, he resorts to cold, irrelevant comparisons. Just be content that the Americans are doing worse, he says.
Conservatives admit the recession damaged Canada’s standard of living. Canadian household debt is now the highest in the western world, and the cost of servicing it is rising.
That makes affording child-care that much more difficult. And a lot of families face the double challenge of also caring for elderly parents or a child with special needs.
For too many families, high costs block the way of qualified young people who want to get into university, college or an apprenticeship program. But they can’t afford it, so they stay home.
Only a fraction of Canadians can expect an adequate pension when they retire. And for 2 million near-seniors who tried to build a nest-egg for their golden years, their dreams were destroyed when Mr. Harper broke his promise about Income Trusts -- $25 billion in retirement savings were vapourized.
Retirement numbers are about to skyrocket with the big baby-boomer generation beginning to turn 65 next year, and that will increase pressures on medicare, homecare, pensions and retirement facilities.
But forget all that, Mr. Harper says, Conservative priorities are different. So what are they? Here’s the list:
• $1.3 billion for an inglorious G-8/G-20 extravaganza;
• $26 billion for untendered, non-competitive military contracts;
• $6 billion annually for tax cuts for the wealthiest corporations;
• more than $1 billion for extra spending on partisan advertising and consultants, plus 20% more for the Prime Minister’s Office;
• $30 million more for a dumbed-down Census; and
• $13 billion for more jails.
With boondoggles like these, Conservatives can’t be concerned about their deficit, and they’re certainly thumbing their noses at average middle-income families.