March 29, 2012
Vancouver, BC – BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair has called Stephen Harper’s first budget an ideological attack on the working and middle class that leaves British Columbia out in the cold.
"With the hammer of a Parliamentary majority, we are now seeing the real Stephen Harper," said Sinclair. "This budget guts federal programs designed to keep Canadians safe and secure and dramatically reduces the role of government in regulating big business."
Sinclair noted that fewer than 40 percent of those who voted in the last election backed the Harper government and that he had no mandate to make these draconian cuts.
"By chopping nearly $6 billion in jobs and services from the economy, the government is confirming that the lives of working and middle class Canadians are of no concern to them," he charged. "Not only will we lose 20,000 jobs from the public service, thousands of small businesses will be affected by the dramatic and unnecessary cuts, as money leaves their communities."
"This budget increases grants to already cash rich corporations, while it wipes out employment programs for young people. In whose world is that reasonable?" said Sinclair. He noted that more than 50,000 young people in British Columbia are currently out of work.
Sinclair said he was truly surprised by the brazen cuts to veterans affairs and the military. "Harper wilfully sends young Canadian women and men into harms way, and when they come back from having served our country, he punishes them with millions in cuts to the programs that serve them. It’s no way to honour veterans."
Sinclair was also critical of changes to front-line workers’ pensions that reduce benefits, take money out of their pockets today, and create an unfair system down the road. These changes, he said, were piled on top of draconian changes to OAS and GIC benefits.
"This budget sets up a fight between the kind of Canada that Stephen Harper wants, and the kind of Canada that Canadians want," said Sinclair. "At the end of the day, I’m confident the values of Canadians will prevail."
Sinclair closed by noting that Harper’s ideology was showing with his massive cuts to the CBC, that will leave the nation’s broadcaster struggling to provide innovative programming and quality journalism. "The CBC is a critical piece of the Canadian identity," said Sinclair. "Unfortunately for the CBC, it’s an identify that Harper doesn’t appreciate."