For many Canadians, the holiday season is a time for friends and family. Being together reminds us of our priorities and for most parents our kids are at the top of that list. We want the best for them and will do whatever we can to help them achieve their dreams.
Sadly, for many parents across Canada that job is getting tougher, as making ends meet is growing increasingly difficult. Full-time jobs are harder to find, wages are falling against inflation, and the number of working poor families continues to grow along with food bank use.
To aggravate matters further, the current Conservative government has seen fit to offer breaks only to the wealthy, exacerbating the growing gap between the rich and the rest of us.
Families need help getting childcare, but instead of creating new affordable spaces, the Conservatives offer a tax break that doesn't cover the cost of a week's care for a single child.
For families in Ontario and British Columbia, they raise the cost of hydro, gasoline, heating fuel and other essentials by five per cent through implementation of the HST.
The Conservative economic strategy is to provide tax cuts to corporations like Electro-Motive in London, Ont. and then do nothing when that company locks out employees in order to extort a 55 per cent wage cut.
This Conservative government continues to make decisions that make it harder on Canadian families.
But we can fight back.
Creating an affordable national daycare system would be a great first step. This would save families money on childcare. It would provide parents who want to work with the opportunity to earn more income. And because more people would be able to work and pay taxes who would otherwise be trapped on social assistance, governments can save those costs. Quebec has shown us how to run a successful and affordable system, offering a template that can be modified to work across the country.
Canada needs business to work in the best interest of the communities in which they operate and we need to reward those that do so, instead of rewarding those who take and give nothing back. We have seen the result of blanket corporate tax cuts: factories and mills shut down, raw materials shipped out of the country, good jobs lost, environmental degradation. Instead, we need to create a sustainable economy and stop the race to the bottom.
I believe we need to rationalize our tax system so that it returns to the principles it was meant to serve. We can hold personal tax rates steady and raise the minimum standard deduction to a living income, helping everyone meet their basic needs. We can pay for that by eliminating corporate incentives that don't incentivize, specialized credits that only serve to shift the burden from the wealthy to the middle class, privileged deductions like the one for executive stock options that serve those who don't need it, and all of those loopholes that cheat honest, law-abiding Canadians of a fair tax system.
We can help the vast majority of Canadians simply by getting rid of misguided attempts at social engineering that only ended up allowing those who can afford to pay an accounting firm to evade their responsibilities.
We can protect existing jobs and create new jobs. We can work with corporations, labour, and the public to ensure that local communities get real benefit guarantees from economic activity in their area. We stop giving corporations tax breaks and incentives only to get nothing in return. We ensure the interests of workers are protected. Natural resources are not extracted without creating the value-added jobs. Canadians are not on the hook for environmental clean up when toxins are dumped by negligent operations. This can be done. I've done it before and I can do it again.
As we get into the swing of the New Year, let's remember our commitment to our children's future. Let's fight back for them. Let's demand that Canadian families get some help from their government.
Follow Romeo Saganash on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RomeoSaganash