Canada is Broken

The middle class is falling further and further behind. The well-to-do are doing better than ever. And lets not even contemplate the fate of those in poverty. Their lot has gone from bad to worse.  Just how has all this happened? How did we get here?

We got here because of several decisions made by our federal government. Decisions that see the tax base shift from corporations onto the middle class, whole-sale chopping of federal support for affordable housing, slashing health care, welfare and post secondary education, and major changes in Employment Insurance.

Liberal PM Jean Chrétien
The changes started primarily under the Jean Chretien government (also a 39% majority govt). First his government slashed transfer payments to the provinces. The Federal government had for years undertaken to meet this commitment to protect our social safety net.  The changes came as a significant shock to provincial finance ministers. Many provincial governments slashed budgets as a result.

Next the Liberal government ended funding for affordable housing. Many provinces could not continue without help from the federal government. The cuts would stay like that
Liberal PM Paul Martin
until the 2005 Paul Martin minority government, facing certain defeat by the NDP on its budget, agreed to put money back into affordable housing.

Remember when it use to be called Unemployment Insurance? The plan was originally the result of a gentlemen's deal between CCF Leader JS Woodsworth and Liberal Prime Minister MacKenzie King. Over the years the benefits improved. That is until Jean Chretien was elected Prime Minister in 1993. First the Liberals transferred money from the UI fund to balance the budget.  Then they raised the amount of money deducted from your paycheque to pay for UI.

The programs name was changed to Employment Insurance. Benefits were cut. Benefits like weekly maximum, qualification for benefits restricted, and grounds for appeal removed.

The next piece to seriously affect middle class was the reductions in Corporate Taxes. These cuts started under Jean Chretien and accelerated under Paul Martin. These cuts removed much needed revenue from the federal budget necessitating cuts to programs and further reliance on taxes paid by the middle class.

With the election of Stephen Harper, we saw the government rapidly slash federal funding, continue to move
Conservative PM Stephen Harper 
tax burden from corporations as per projections put in place by Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, to middle class Canadians.

Harper moved to raise rates for EI, and has cut benefits every year since being elected. Today less than 37% of Canadians qualify for EI. This action has passed the cost of unemployment onto workers and provincial governments. Those provincial governments are cutting their own programs, leaving many without support.

There is much more. This is just a primer, about the inequality of income, the Liberals and the Conservatives have given us.

This is what people like Linda McQuaig and the NDP are trying to change.