Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Canada's Economy: Not Exactly Healthy

If you are a worker, you already know that Canada's economy is a mess.  The only people who don't seem to know it are at the top.

Press Progress published a very detailed analysis of how messed up our economy is today.  A few of the highlights:
First, the good news: Corporate Canada's profits have hit a 27-year high, according to a new report by CIBC World Markets. Bay Street has never been happier, right? 
Well, there's just one little catch: new Statistics Canada data shows the Canadian economy shrank in January. All those layoffs and store closures you've been hearing about lately? "Ugly" retail sales? That stuff.
Yeah ... "that stuff".  If you work in retail, you've probably been smelling the rot that's been happening as hours of work are cut further and further in stores, although strangely the execs in head office don't seem to be taking pay cuts, or the quality of product being brought in has nosedived at about the same rate that sales have been tanking.

In Calgary (and the rest of Alberta), we've been experiencing enormous numbers of layoffs in the oil patch.  Not hundreds of jobs, but thousands of them lost.  One thing to notice though, is that the people at the top are not the ones bearing the brunt.  It is contractors and middle tier workers carrying the burden.

In Alberta, we are being fed the line that "corporate tax hikes will kill jobs".  This is a straight up lie, and we all know it.  It's a gambit play by the wealthy to keep as much money as possible, at the expense of Albertans.  It is not merely a matter of raising the tax rate, but also closing up all of the escape hatches used to funnel revenues out of Canada.  You earn a dollar here, or on our resources, you pay a fair price for it.  Current corporate taxation and royalty regimes in Alberta definitely are not reasonable, especially when we compare ourselves with say, Norway.

There's a point to this.  It isn't just that we are losing jobs in retail, or that the oil patch in Alberta is tanking.  It is that we have had a uniquely narrow-focused government which has been paying off their big donors (big business and the executive classes).  It isn't Canadians who have been winning, it is the wealthy who have been winning, at the expense of Canadians.  Alberta hasn't put a plug nickel into the Heritage Savings fund in ages.  Why?  Because our governments have been happily handing money over to the corporate world in the name of "jobs".

Jobs, which I will point out, are at best conditional fictions on a good day.  Corporate Canada argues that taxes kill jobs.  This is a lie.  Downturns kill jobs.  Austerity budgets kill jobs.  The speed with which layoffs and cuts begin the minute there is a downturn of any sort tells us a great deal about how much those jobs are really worth.

Canada's governments need to start looking out for Canadians.  Not Canadian corporations, not international corporations.  Canadian citizens.  Period.  Anything else is a disservice to the people that our government is elected to serve.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Spot on!!! Under the past 40 years of Con government we have lost universal access to health care, post secondary education costs have climbed into the stratosphere where only the wealthy can reach, wages have been suppressed, unions have been attacked and vilified by the government, tax cuts to corporations have increased, royalty rates have plummeted…… and now they want the average citizen to pay more fees and taxes for less and less service.

Prentice and his band of goons need to be removed from government at the next election!!

Remember, you either stand for a free, equitable, and just Canada, or you stand with the Cons!

SB