LONDON –Despite thousands of job losses in the past year, and tens of thousands of families struggling to make ends meet, the federal budget fails to provide any substantial help to everyday Canadians says MP Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe, NDP)

“We cannot pretend the recession is over and all the problems have gone away. Thousands of London workers are still out of work, 1.5 million workers across Canada, and the prospect of finding permanent work any time in the immediate future is not good. We have 1.7 million seniors struggling to make ends meet on meager pension benefits which are $4000 a year below the poverty line. What does the Finance Minister deliver in the budget? More corporate welfare! It is an irresponsible and unconscionable betrayal of the Canadian people,” says Mathyssen.

The Harper government’s corporate tax cuts cost Canada $5.3 billion in 2009, with a projected cost of $12 billion for 2010. Over a third of this largess will go to the two most profitable sectors, the oil and gas companies and the chartered banks. At the same time the Finance Minister is doling out corporate welfare, working Canadians will be hit with hidden tax increases with the introduction of the HST, adding 8% to the cost of many goods and services. In contrast the NDP call to double the Guaranteed Income Supplement to lift seniors out of poverty would cost Canada’s treasury only $770 million. Mathyssen says this would be fiscally responsible use of resources considering most seniors will spend their GIS benefits in their communities, supporting local economies.

While Mathyssen said the extension of the extension to eligible weeks of the work share program may help protect some jobs, she said there is no comprehensive strategy to actually get people back to work. She pointed to the lack of further investment in the Southern Ontario Development Agency (SODA) and the refusal to extend the Home Renovation Tax Credit as two examples of abandoning opportunities to keep people working and help create new job opportunities.

“The government got a couple of things right in the 2009 budget, the Home Renovation Tax Credit, and adopting NDP platform commitment to establishing the SODA. New Democrats called for an extension of the Home Renovation Credit. Instead, the Conservatives pulled the plug, which means fewer contractors will be working and paying taxes this summer. The SODA is supposed to help create and attract jobs to the area, but with no further investment, it is unlikely the SODA can fulfill its mandate. The Conservatives could have helped cities address infrastructure issues beyond stimulus packages, by dedicated gas tax transfers, but that too was missing. What we really have here is a do nothing budget”.

“Canadian banks and oil companies paid out $8 billion in executive bonuses last year, bonuses which the Finance Minister refuses to even entertain taxing. At the same time, families struggling with job loss have nearly exhausted EI benefits and are facing homelessness and hunger. We have seniors cutting pills in half to stretch their prescriptions, with many having to choose between groceries or paying the heating bill. Frankly, I cannot even fathom how the Minister can sleep at night,” says Mathyssen.