Time for a new approach

Last week, Canada’s economy was downgraded by the International Monetary Fund, new statistics showed the widespread pain of those who recently have lost their jobs, and the Harper government continued to embarrass us internationally by reneging on a deal to help a country in desperate need.
Both the Bank of Canada and the IMF have lowered their growth forecasts in each of their three most recent reports.
The downgrades aren’t surprising given that in the past 12 months, Canada only has created 72,300 jobs—81,800 in Alberta while the other provinces combined lost 9,500.
What we know is that Canada has a jobs crisis and the economy is underperforming despite all those huge corporate tax cuts, the reduction of Employment Insurance benefits, and the gutting of environmental regulations which all were designed to help create jobs and produce economic growth.
It’s time for a new approach because clearly the Conservative approach is failing Canadians.
The bad economy also is particularly affecting those who have lost their jobs in the last year or two.
Statistics Canada last week released new numbers on Employment Insurance usage. In May, the number of people receiving regular EI benefits fell by 12,100 (or 2.3 percent) after a year of little change.
The total number of beneficiaries for the month was 504,100. The majority of provinces saw declines in the number of beneficiaries, most notably Nova Scotia, Ontario, P.E.I., and Quebec.
Less people making use of EI benefits either can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the situation. But in the case of the lower May number, it is not a good thing.
EI usage can go down for a number of reasons—people finding work, going back to school, retiring, or not finding work and running out of EI eligibility.
In May, while the number of people receiving EI fell by 12,100, the economy also lost 9,400 jobs in June, with Ontario alone losing 33,900 jobs.
For people who have lost their employment in the last year, more are finding it harder to find work and, as a result, are seeing their EI benefits run out. It’s a very difficult situation for those individuals and families, and one I hope is only temporary.
In 2015, New Democrats will offer a plan that will improve the labour market situation.
Finally, the Harper government is making Canada look like an international deadbeat once again. It’s sad but true that after promising Ukraine more than $200 million in aid following the annexation of Crimea by Russia, the Conservatives still have not delivered the much-needed aid money.
They do talk a good game, though. The announcement was made with some great fanfare—a press conference, followed up by media events and then chest thumping in Question Period.
The only thing the Conservatives forgot to do was write the cheque. A minor detail.
You see, I understand if Stephen Harper doesn’t care about what Canadians think about his party and his policies. But this time, his behaviour is embarrassing Canada on the international stage.
In a Globe and Mail story about the failure, the Ukrainian ambassador to Canada, Vadym Prystaiko, said: “We are pouring all the money in our budget, which was completely devastated by the previous government, into the anti-terrorism campaign. We have 85,000 internal refugees.”
Maybe the delay is because of the International Action Plan ads the government is busy making, or maybe they don’t plan to deliver the money at all now that they’ve gotten the positive headlines.
Either way, the failure to live up to yet another international obligation is an embarrassment to our country and everyone who lives in it.
But most importantly, it isn’t helping the Ukrainian people who are in dire straits at the moment.