Looks like the Conservatives are setting us up for yet another bait and switch.
Federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer offered up the bait earlier this week, promising that if he’s elected prime minister, he’ll give us an income tax cut that will “put $440 back into your pocket.”
Before I get to the switch – and it’s a doozy – you have to remember that not all of us would actually get $440. In fact, most of us would get less. A lot less.
Economists studying Scheer’s proposal say that you’d have to make at least $55,000 a year to save anything close to $440 on your taxes. If you make less than $43,000 a year, for example, your taxes would only go down $150 – that’s a “saving” of less than 50 cents a day.
Is an extra couple quarters going to make much difference in your day-to-day life? I doubt it.
But it will make a huge difference to our public services. Somebody’s got to pay the bill for this vote-buying – and it’s us. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has run the numbers and says Scheer’s tax cut will cost the government at least $6 billion a year.
That’s $6 billion we could be investing in a Pharmacare program that would ensure all Canadians have the medicine they need when they need it.
Or in universal child-care, which would free parents from crippling daycare fees, eventually more than paying for itself in economic growth.
Or in strengthening the CPP, saving thousands upon thousands of seniors from retirement poverty.
Or in green technology to help fight the climate crisis by creating thousands of new green jobs.
Or in free college and university tuition.
Or in ending hallway medicine.
When it comes to what strong public services can accomplish for all, the only limit is our imagination. And politicians like Scheer who are trying to buy our votes.
But here’s the worst thing about Scheer’s promise to put money in your pocket. His provincial counterpart is standing right behind him, ready to pluck that money – and more — right back out of your pocket.
Scheer is the bait. And Doug Ford is the switch.
As I write this, Ford has a law ready to go that will limit public sector wage increases to just one per cent for each of the next three years. It’s called Bill 124 and he’s made it clear that he wants to pass it as soon as the federal election is done and he can safely come back out of hiding.
Never mind the fact that a wage cap is unconstitutional – the Charter protects our right to free and fair collective bargaining. Or the fact that a wage cap is unnecessary – last week, Ford was forced to admit that the deficit is less than half the size he claimed it is.
The important fact here is the wage cap is going to cost you money. Real money.
Say you make $55,000 a year and you were able to bargain a two per cent increase – that would be an extra $1,100 in your pocket. But Bill 124 will cut that increase in half, costing you $550.
So let’s review. Scheer says he’ll give you $440, but you’ll have to accept shoddier public services to get it. Then Ford takes $550 from you. Now you’re $110 in the hole and your public services are a pale shadow of what they could be.
Conservatives love to say they’re giving me a break on my taxes. I’d rather they just give me a break.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union