Dismal economic news is piling up

The Conservatives like to call themselves sound economic managers, but it is my experience that when someone has to tell you what they are, they usually want you to see something that just isn’t there.  Time and again the Conservatives have proven they don’t have what it takes to foster our economy.  This goes back to their very first days in office when they failed to recognize the (internationally accepted) need for stimulus spending to counteract the worst effects of the global recession.

The latest hiccup in the Conservative economic fairy tale came to light when Statistics Canada reported that Canada lost 9,400 jobs in the month of June alone—and unemployment continues to rise.  How can this be?  The recession is supposed to be years behind us and these self-styled economic gurus have been in power for the better part of a decade now?

We know this much, our job market has reached a new low since the 2010 economic recovery. In addition to the startling June numbers, almost 50,000 youth jobs have disappeared and another 50,000 young people simply gave up looking for work altogether.  The latest unemployment number in Canada is set at 1.4 million people.  Remember, this does not include people who have given up looking for work altogether.

The belief that the market, if left alone, will fix everything is fixing nothing.  If anything the problems are getting worse especially for young people.  In addition to that, jobs are paying less as the income gap grows.  The percentage of minimum wage jobs in Canada is increasing - which is a bad sign going forward.  It is hard enough to scratch out a living at minimum wage, let alone begin to save for a rainy day or retirement but that is what people are being told they should do. 

As I write this, the governor of the Bank of Canada is voicing concern over Canada’s dismal growth rate and has cut its forecast for that based on a missing-in-action rebound for exports and business investment – the bread and butter of economic growth.  It must be mentioned that the long run of corporate tax cuts that were said to be the key element for robust business investment have only resulted in a weakened tax base and horded cash.   Our economy is currently being driven by debt-financed household spending and the housing market neither of which are the long term answer.

Clearly there is a need to diversify our economy.  The Conservatives have been so singularly focussed on the energy economy that it is obvious they are not the ones to turn the tide that is threatening our ability to take care of ourselves.  Stephen Harper has stood idly by while Canadian factories closed their doors and workers lost their jobs along with the means to feed their families. He is relying on economic theory despite mounds of evidence that show it isn’t working.

It is long past time for a change in direction. We can’t run the government like a business, no matter how much the Conservatives wish we could.  Businesses often fail and go bankrupt, for Canada this is not an option.