Finance Minister Joe Oliver likes to say that most of the growth in jobs has been high wage, private sector growth. This is simply not true. Two-thirds of net new jobs created between 2008 and 2014 pay below average wages.
Own-account self-employment — those self-employed workers who have no employees — have dominated growth in self-employment and account for one-third of net new jobs since 2008. Another one-third net new jobs are temporary or part-time. And job growth has skewed to older workers, leaving young workers with few opportunities to find meaningful employment.
Nothing in the 2015 Budget does anything to address these issues.
This budget is literally balanced on the backs of workers, as record-low EI coverage rates have meant a surplus of $1.8 Billion in the EI Operating Account. Exactly as the PBO predicted, this money went directly into general revenues, and provided the federal government with enough money to book a tiny surplus.
Workers needed that money to improve access to Employment Insurance, so that families that have been rocked by recent layoffs could make ends meet while searching for another job. Right now, new labour market entrants need 910 hours to qualify for benefits, which is nearly impossible to accumulate when working part-time. These workers often must resort to Social Assistance or borrowing in absence of EI benefits.
Cuts to Service Canada have meant months of delays for workers who need to access benefits, and this includes workers accessing critical training opportunities. One of the biggest barriers for apprentices seeking to complete their training is delays in receiving EI benefits.
This budget was superficially balanced, but under the surface are very real imbalances — a generational imbalance, and environmental imbalance, and an infrastructure imbalance.
This government balanced the budget to pay for tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy — instead of investing in Canadians and the communities that we live in.