Job numbers are the real test for any government

The government is crowing about a balanced budget but what they aren’t bragging about is how their efforts offer little hope to improve stagnant job numbers or some dismal economic indicators that show their balancing job for what it is - a temporary illusion.  What you will hear a lot about - especially if you are watching playoff hockey games - are a few boutique tax credits that sound family friendly enough, but won’t make much of a difference to many people who don’t have a nice little nest-egg to begin with.

What the government is definitely not bragging about are the worst GDP growth numbers for Canada since 1930, which was near the outset of the great depression.  What that means is that we are not producing all that much in Canada which is reflected in other negative numbers as well.  

Another among those negative numbers is the worst trade deficit in Canadian history.  This is after the Conservatives signing-spree for a record number of trade agreements that - according to government spin- were supposed to bring trade to record levels.   Who knew they were chasing a negative record?

Among the biggest problem the government refuses to address is the loss of good, middle class jobs in Canada.  We shed 400,000 of those since the global economic crisis in 2008 and the purge continues.  In fact, this week as we were debating the budget, news broke of job losses at Bombardier that will add another 1,750 jobs to the tally.  At the same time we are adding lower-paying jobs that have little or nothing in the way of pensions and benefits and in no way replace those solid jobs we lost - but the government has no plan to get out of this cycle either.

What they do have a plan for is Employment Insurance.  What they plan to do with that is to tax those who are still working by way of higher-than-necessary premiums that will help to create a balanced budget and pay for boutique tax credits.  Put another way, employers and employees across Canada will be subsidizing wealthy individuals who are about the only ones able to take meaningful advantage of the new income splitting scheme in the budget.

It should be noted that the Conservatives learned this trick from the Liberals who balanced budgets with raids on Employment Insurance and Public Service Pensions.  However, just because another party did it, does not make it acceptable.  Any way you look at this, the higher EI premiums that are being used for things outside that program, amount to a tax on having a job or paying an employee - nothing less and nothing more.  That pretty much blows a gigantic hole through the Conservative’s low-tax bedtime stories that they like to tell Canadians.

What we need to be concerned with in a much bigger way is the seemingly permanent problem of youth un-and-underemployment.  In Northern Ontario we watched for decades now as our children leave to find suitable employment.  Now leaving to a city is no guarantee either.  Jobs have become more part-time, temporary, and low waged which is a reflection of the priorities of this government and young people have never really made it on their list.  If we don’t move to repair the employment problems that plague young people we are at risk of making our job problems permanent.  The government hasn’t been bragging about their record on that front - just a budget that will be balanced for as long as it takes to hold an election.