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SOURCE Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)
TORONTO, March 20, 2013 /CNW/ - The CAW is calling on federal Finance
Minister Jim Flaherty to focus on job creation, not more spending
cutbacks in his 2013 budget, to be unveiled tomorrow.
"Canada's public debt is small, relative to past history and to the debt
problems faced in other regions, such as Europe," said CAW National
President Ken Lewenza.
"Committing to wipe out the deficit by 2015, above any other economic or
social priorities, is a serious mistake that will undermine our
already-fragile economic recovery," Lewenza said. Flaherty has pledged
to eliminate the deficit completely by 2015 despite the recent economic
slowdown, and slower-than-anticipated growth in federal revenues.
"Minister Flaherty should put pragmatism ahead of ideology, and
recognize that Canada's economy needs more support from its federal
government, not less," Lewenza added. Ottawa's deficit has been cut by
two-thirds since the worst days of the recession, program spending has
been pared back by over 2 percentage points of GDP, and the government
debt burden (measured as a share of GDP) is already falling.
"The assumption that we face some kind of fiscal emergency is simply
untrue," Lewenza said. "Government should not be adding to the woes of
our private sector with its own downsizing. That only makes matters
Lewenza called on Flaherty to reverse planned spending cuts, and make
targeted new investments in key program areas - including support for
public infrastructure, job-creation measures in manufacturing and other
key sectors, and repairing the EI system.
The CAW endorsed the emphasis on skills training that the government has
indicated will be an important part of its 2013 budget, but warned that
Ottawa must be prepared to pony up real resources.
"Let's see if this budget matches rhetoric with real spending." It will
not be enough, Lewenza said, for Ottawa to simply reallocate funds that
are already flowing through provincial labour force programs - that is
a "shell game."
The CAW also urged Minister Flaherty to make continuing investments in
Canada's manufacturing sector. "Despite the growth of energy exports,
manufacturing is still far and away Canada's most important export
industry, and the sector is poised for a rebound" on the strength of
U.S. recovery and a softening Canadian dollar, Lewenza noted.
"The federal government can boost this recovery with timely investments
and supports for auto, aerospace, food processing, and other critical
Lewenza called on the government to abandon its ill-advised and punitive
EI regulations, which "punish the victims" of unemployment through
unprecedented surveillance and relocation requirements.
"There are still 2 million effective unemployed in Canada. The problem
is not the attitudes of the jobless; the problem is the lack of jobs.
They deserve to be able to access this system when they need it." In
2012 on average, just one in three officially unemployed Canadians
could qualify for regular EI benefits, and that number will fall
further with the government's new directives.