Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives rounds up some noteworthy responses to the federal budget. Barbara Sibbald and Laura Eggertson write that while a few social determinants of health made the cut, our actual health care system will see virtually nothing. Armine Yalnizyan highlights how it falls short both Liberal promises and glaring needs in a number of areas, while Andrew Jackson emphasizes the need for increased revenue to pay for even the half-measures included in the Trudeau Libs' first budget. And Michal Rozworski opines that the Libs are doing little but following the Cons' plans for austerity:
(F)ederal spending on programs, on our social safety net, is set to rise to just 14.6 per cent of GDP one year from now, marginally higher than today. This is, however, a mere blip in the long downward trajectory since the late 1970s, when program spending was around 20 per cent. The projections in this budget do not signal a turnaround: program spending is to remain flat and fall back down to 2015 levels by 2020. All the rhetoric about rebuilding the middle class doesn’t translate into rebuilding our common social supports. The question is what will be cut in the future to make up for the boost in spending today.

Finally, a significant chunk of the deficit spending is simply due to better accounting. The Conservatives played fast and loose with the numbers and Harper performed some fiscal magic tricks to create surpluses for his final budget. The Liberals are projecting to spend more than the Conservatives but they are also projecting far lower revenues, especially in the first few years. This explains part of the headline-grabbing deficits.
- Sara Mojtehedzadeh discusses the problems for both sick workers and the people around them when paid leave isn't available.

- CBC News reports on the Prairie Spirit School Division's budget cuts caused by provincially-imposed austerity, while Austin Davis reports that Regina's public school system is scraping by with 665 unfunded students. So naturally, the response of the Saskatchewan Party (which of course took away the ability of school boards to raise needed funds) is to try to shout down anybody who dares to point out the underfunding.

- Finally, Charles Mandel points out a warning from climate scientists that we're plunging into catastrophic climate change faster than anticipated.

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