Mar 29, 2012

Canadians want higher taxes from the federal budget


The Globe and Mail released the results of a new poll they conducted on what Canadian priorities are for the upcoming budget. The findings seem to have stumped at least some of the journalists, judging by their account:

What stood out most was the across-the-board call for higher taxes. Yes, you read that right. Respondents said they want the deficit reduced and are willing to see the GST restored to 7 per cent, higher taxes for corporations and high-income Canadians and an end to what they called “boutique” tax credits, such as children’s arts and fitness credits.

This isn’t a surprise to me. The tax cut experiment that our federal government has been running since the 1990s has failed miserably and Canadians are starting to take notice.

Tax cuts were supposed to create more and better-paying jobs and pay for themselves, but instead they’ve opened up a gaping hole in the public purse and created what economists call a structural deficit. Corporate profits are edging back to their record high pre-recession levels, executive compensation is on the rise but the good jobs haven’t materialized. Instead of investing in the economy, corporations are sitting on billions of dollars in cash.

Taxes are a way for all of us to pool our resources so that we can provide better, more accessible services than we could buy individually. Education, health care, care for our children and for our seniors — these are things that we all need and if we don’t pay for them together through taxes we will pay for them individually through user fees and ration services based on ability to pay.

This is why the vast majority of Canadians aren’t better off after over a decade of tax cuts. Tax cuts were supposed to leave us with more money in our pockets, but that feeling only lasted until we found out how much our next prescription costs, what the fees are for our parents’ seniors care home, and that we now need to pay for our children’s school field trip or sports team.

Canadians don’t want to live in a low tax society with frayed public services. What they want is to share prosperity more broadly and ensure that everyone has access to the basic necessities to give them a good start in life.

It’s time for our governments to take note. It’s time to put an end to our corporate tax giveaways and ask those who are benefiting from the recovery to contribute a little more to the common pot so we can rebuild and strengthen our communities in the aftermath of the recession.

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