Volume 91, Issue 81

Wednesday, March 4, 1998

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OPINIONS
 

Budget is smoke and mirrors

Re: Tabled Federal budget

To the Editor:
Over the past five years, the Liberals have cut over $7 billion from education and health care in the form of reductions in transfers to the provinces. In fact, the Liberal government has cut its own program spending by only a mere two per cent. Paul Martin has 'conquered' the deficit on the backs of the provinces and through hidden tax increases.

Now, all of sudden, he has a deficit 'dividend' with which he can shower us with goodies. The centre-piece of the Liberals' newfound activism is the Millennium Scholarship Fund. In it, they propose $2.5 billion over three years to go into a brand new federal program to hand out scholarships; this, after they have just finished cutting billions of dollars from provincial education funding. Why isn't this money simply returned to the provinces from where it was cut in the first place? Instead, you and I have to go to a whole new separate bureaucracy just to get a little cheque that says Government of Canada.

And if you think you're going to benefit from this, think again. The Millennium Scholarship Fund hasn't even received parliamentary approval and won't be implemented until the year 2000. Already, this is beginning to irritate the provinces – particularly Quebec. It's ironic that the province that has maintained the tightest control on its education system is doing much better than the rest of Canada. Student debt in Quebec is roughly half that of the rest of Canada. They must be doing something right.

At the same time, they're glossing over the fact that the Government is hiking CPP premiums by over 70 per cent which amounts to a MASSIVE tax increase for every single working Canadian. CPP is effectively a payroll tax and even Paul Martin admits that payroll taxes KILL JOBS. Young people will be hit particularly hard by such a misguided tax grab.

The other great issue of the day is the federal debt. Canada is nearly $600 billion in debt. To put this in perspective, consider that the United States is 10 times bigger than us yet their debt is only three times as large as ours. Obviously, a priority for this government should be to start paying down the debt. Yet all they have allocated for debt reduction is a $3 billion 'contingency fund' which, so long as nothing nasty happens such as a flood or an ice storm, will be put towards debt retirement. At that rate, it'll take us nearly 200 years to get rid of the damn thing!

All of this 'good news' is possible because Paul Martin has triumphantly conquered the deficit. The fact that there is an $8 billion surplus in the Employment Insurance fund that through a clever trick of accounting is being included as part of the government's 'revenue' is only one of the many tricks in this glossed-over sham of shams. This budget is not 'good news' for young Canadians, it's just more of the same.

Pablo Frank
Hons. Comp. Sci III



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Copyright The Gazette 1998