Politicians love to tell us how great the economy is doing. They speak of unemployment reaching record lows while the stock market hits all-time highs. My question is who is benefiting from all of this supposed prosperity? When I go to the door, I constantly hear the people of Hamilton Centre tell me how they are struggling to get by. So where is the discrepancy? The unfortunate fact is that while money flows to a select few, the middle class is getting squeezed, and finding it tougher to get by.
The average Canadian is working harder and has less to show for it. A report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives states that the wealthiest 10% of Canadians are the only ones not working longer hours. According to the Angus Reid Institute, for every dollar of disposable income in Canada, Canadians owe roughly $1.78. This has lead to many Canadians living paycheck to paycheck, with nearly half a mere $200 away from bankruptcy. Housing affordability is at a crisis level in Hamilton. This lack of affordability leads many to incur debt just to make ends meet. Seniors in Hamilton are particularly feeling the pinch. According to the Hamilton Community foundations recent Vital Signs report, many seniors are living alone and struggling financially. The ratio of seniors still working has doubled. Of those working, many are in low-paying jobs because according to Vital Signs project director Jeff Wingard, “Jobs that used to have pensions and retirement plans are disappearing.”
I believe the government needs to do more to help. The Green Party will institute a $15/hour federal minimum wage and reduce the tax burden on everyday Canadians struggling to get by. We will strengthen labour rights of both union and non-unionized workers, and reform EI to include temporary and contract workers. The Green Party will introduce legislation to protect employee pension plans so that workers do not lose the benefits that they earned when companies go bankrupt. We will help seniors, by increasing the Canada Pension plan to better reflect the current cost of living and immediately address the problem of seniors poverty with a 25% increase to the guaranteed income supplement. The Green Party will reform social assistance to stop penalizing those who find work, by allowing workers to keep 100% of earned wages up to the low income cut off. We will provide assistance to the 3 million Canadians who cannot afford necessary medication with a national pharmacare plan, and ensure that the Federal government pays their fair share towards healthcare, with the focus being on prevention, not just treatment. The Green Party will call for a universal childcare program that provides workplace childcare spaces wherever possible and accelerate the creation of childcare spaces through a direct tax credit to employers of $1500 tax credit/child per year;