Balanced budget achieved through transfer from EI

Tom Fletcher's cheerleading for Stephen Harper misses the main point on balanced budgets

Just one thing about Mr. Fletcher’s speculation regarding balanced budgets:  in his cheerleading for the right side of the political spectrum, he calls Justin Trudeau’s reason for the Harper government’s surplus “Wrong and wrong” – and he is entirely correct, in that there are several reasons that brought about this so-called “surplus”.

The main reason for the Harper government “surplus” though, was a transfer of something approaching $3 billion from Employment Insurance to general revenues.  This amounts to nothing less than theft (and yes, other governments have done this in the past) of monies that should have been put towards increased employment and/or benefits.  But Mr. Fletcher chose not to mention this (even though I presume he had at least the same access to this information that I have).  What it amounts to though, is that the Harper government did not in fact run a surplus of $1.9 billion, but a (continuing) deficit of at least $1.1 billion.

So the answer to Mr. Fletcher’s question about balance budgets is “apparently not” (as long as the “correct” party runs them.  For instance, he opines:

“NDP leader Thomas Mulcair has promised to balance the budget every year of his mandate, should he form Canada’s first-ever socialist government. He will spend the rest of the campaign trying to reconcile this promise with the grandiose spending plans he has piled up.”

Well, to backtrack one opinion piece recently written by Mr. Fletcher, in which he called Quebec’s daycare program a failure, economist Pierre Fortin, an economics professor at the University of Quebec at Montreal, concluded: “For every dollar Quebec invests, it recoups $1.05 while Ottawa receives a 44-cent windfall”.

Hardly a failure, Mr. Fletcher – and if Mr. Mulcair does form government in Ottawa, should he not balance the budget, he would hardly be the first not to do so, as demonstrated by Mr. Harper (who regaled us on his economic prowess) for this last decade.  The question Mr. Fletcher should be asking is:  “If balanced budgets don’t really matter, is the money being spent being recouped elsewhere?”

Richard Weatherill

Saanich

 

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