Editorial by Marc Lee and David Macdonald
On the day Barack Obama made breathtaking history, becoming the U.S.'s first African-American President, that nation's thoughts turned to hope and new beginnings.
With far less fanfare, and no comparable political leader tugging at our hopestrings, Canadians are counting down the days to the resumption of Parliament and wonder if the drama of December is truly behind us.
When the Prime Minister and his minority government come out of hiding to face the people, and his political opposition, they face a test of historic proportions.
Their task is to make right what they failed to do last fall: Bring in a stimulus budget that creates jobs, invests in strategic long-term initiatives and helps those who need it most.
But will Tuesday's budget meet the challenge that confronts us? Or will the opposition parties be justified in rejecting it?
We lay out five tests for Tuesday's budget, to help Canadians and our politicians make a choice that plants the seed for a strong, prosperous, and greener Canada.
Tuesday's budget needs to do these five things:
- Budget 2009 should help the hundreds of thousands of newly unemployed Canadians by increasing Employment Insurance (EI) benefits from 55% to 60% of insured earnings and extending the period for receiving those benefits to 50 weeks.
- Budget 2009 should support the hardest hit Canadians, such as unemployed, low-income Canadians, and hard hit communities by making a commitment to reduce poverty in Canada by 25% in the next five years.
- Budget 2009 should implement an ambitious social, physical and green public infrastructure program - a measure that could create hundreds of thousands of new jobs just when we need them.
- Budget 2009 should support key value-added sectors with restructuring criteria to ensure they become green and sustainable. It's about keeping the lights on in key sectors in the short term, but re-orienting those sectors so they can come out stronger and more responsive to the demands of the day in the long term.
- Finally, Budget 2009 should emphasize spending over tax cuts.
There is growing consensus on a number of these tests.
EI is the federal government's most important automatic stabilizer and most agree it has been greatly weakened and must be reinforced to face rising unemployment.
Most agree on infrastructure investment as a good means of stimulating the economy and creating jobs. But the kind of infrastructure we invest in and the type of jobs we create are important to consider.
Canada runs the risk of the Harper government packaging some of its pet projects - growing our military influence and announcing a megaproject like the Mackenzie oil pipeline - as stimulus.
Instead, we need federal leadership, a big vision that is bold and thoughtful. On the infrastructure file, this means major investments in green projects - public transit, renewable energy - that reduce Canada's carbon footprint and plant the seeds for a sustainable economy.
However, infrastructure isn't just about roads and bridges: it's also about investing in social infrastructure - health care, post-secondary education, child care, and social housing - to ensure balanced job creation between male- and female-dominated professions and the expansion of public programs to all Canadians.
The Prime Minister has talked about Canada's middle class, and how they need tax cuts in the upcoming stimulus budget. But we will get better bang for the buck if we deliver money into the hands of those who will spend it right away, particularly those with lower incomes.
The majority of Canadians, especially the middle class, benefit more from public services such as good education, health care, and affordable child care than they have from years of federal tax cuts. That's where the investments need to be in Budget 2009.
As we grow closer to budget day, it's becoming clear the lightning rod for disagreement appears to lie in the notion of tax cuts, mostly because the Conservatives are so ideologically committed to their tax cuts they can't give up the ghost.
They need to face reality: research shows that tax cuts end up in savings or get used to pay down household debt. Those dollars don't end up in the economy where they are desperately needed.
The Conservatives need to move beyond ideology and towards measures that are best able to get Canadians through these tough times.
In the face of the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression we need our federal government to get it right on Tuesday. We need it now more than ever.
Marc Lee is a senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) BC office; David Macdonald coordinated the CCPA Alternative Federal Budget.
CCEDNet is adding its voice to the many groups supporting the renewal and expansion of the Co-operative Development Initiative (CDI).
Canada's national co-op associations are asking co-ops, members and co-op supporters across the country to join the campaign to renew and expand the Co-operative Development Initiative (CDI), a federal program that helps promote and develop new and emerging co-ops. As the Conservative Government and Mr Flaherty put together their economic recovery plan for the end of January, they need to be reminded that the Co-operative Development Initiative could play an important part.
* To read the letter that the Canadian CED Network submitted, please click here.
* Click here to download a letter template that you can sign and send in.
* CDI information booklet
Full Circle: Sharing a Vision for the 7th Generation
*Registration opens mid-February!*
Each year, the Canadian CED Network holds a national conference to bring together those who support community-based efforts to improve social conditions and create economic opportunities in Canada and beyond.
The conference attracts over 400 CED practitioners, business and co-operative developers, entrepreneurs, academics and active citizens for dozens of learning and information sharing sessions, inspirational keynote speakers, networking opportunities, and local site visits. The annual conference provides an opportunity for participants to pause and reflect on our grassroots beginnings, while coming together to develop a vision for what we wish to achieve.
Plan to attend! Check our website (www.ccednet-rcdec.ca) for updates.
*Congratulations -- Not*
Canada wins Fossil Award for stalling progress at UN Climate Change talks
See www.climateactionnetwork.ca for more information.
Agenda for New Economy: Why Wall Street Can't Be Fixed and How to Replace It by David Korten
"This book reveals what is really going on in the U.S. and global economy-and what can and should be done about it." Van Jones, author of The Green Collar Economy
Buy the book now>>
Canadian Voices, a radio program produced at Kootenay Co-op Radio, has just launched its 4th Season. It features talks by an ever-expanding array of Canadian authors, activists, scientists, intellectuals and artists on topics ranging from human rights and climate change, to neuroscience, fair trade, Canadian identity and simple living (and many things in between). Listen here www.canadianvoices.org
*Call for Papers*
Ecological Economics Conference: Vancouver October 15-17, 2009
Deadline for submissions: February 1 2009
For more information click here>>
*Call for abstracts*
Canadian Social Forum - Calgary May 19-22, 2009
Deadline: January 20, 2009
The BC CED Network added our name to a growing coalition of organizations and community leaders who are making poverty reduction an election issue this May. Download the letter and if you or your organization are willing to add your name to the Open Letter (or if you have questions), please email Thi Vu at thi[at]policyalternatives.ca.
In this article, Alan Broadbent, chair of the MayTree Foundation explains that limits on Foundations spending of capital is self-imposed and fails to meet the public policy intent of pre-tax donations. "In tough economic times, then, what is a funder to do? I think it is clear. It must focus on the needs of the community, and keep up its level of support even if it means dipping into capital."
"Projected Sea Level Changes for British Columbia in the 21st Century" December 2008
"For instance, estimates of most probable sea level rise range from 11 cm at Nanaimo to more than 50 cm in parts of the Fraser River delta."
"Community Roles in Policy" by Sherri Torjman, January 2009
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released "Leadership for Tough Times: The Alternative Federal Budget Fiscal Stimulus Plan." This one-year package would create 407,000 jobs, boost the economy by 3%, and help protect Canadians from the worst of a recession. Consistent with recommendations by the IMF and OECD, the Plan would inject $32.9 billion (or 2.1% of GDP) into Canada's economy.
SFU Certificate for Community Economic Development Professionals
Victoria Spring 2009
***Social Enterprise Development, February 20-21 (Includes orientation to Enterprising Non-profits program)
CED Approaches to Affordable Housing, April 24-25
Financing CED Projects, March 27-28
Sustainable Development and CED, May 29-30
*New* Register online - click here>>
What students have to say about the program...
Honestly, I think it is some of the most practical education I have ever received. Patricia Morgan, Dawson Creek
The whole program has really been a huge benefit to me. It has helped develop my skills and increased my understanding of the issues relating to CED. I like the format, having two days and then an assignment; the assignments have been valuable and applicable.... Good good good.
Kevin Koopmans, Community Futures South Fraser
Enterprising Non-Profits orientation sessions
**February 20-21, Victoria
orientation to enp is included in SFU's Social Enterprise Development course which can be attributed to completion of the Certificate Program for CED Professionals
March 4, Vancouver
March 10, Nanaimo
March 25, Surrey
March 31, Kamloops
April 2, Revelstoke
April 21, Kitimaat Village
April 23, Burns Lake
April 24, Vanderhoof
April 29, Crankbrook
The Cleantech Forum XXI
Accelerating the next wave of innovation
February 23 - 25, 2009
San Francisco, CA www.cleantech.com
The 2009 Community Development Finance Institute
March 1 - 3, 2009
Washington, DC www.cdfi.org
Aboriginal Policy Research Conference
March 8 - 12, 2009
Deadline for applications: February 6, 2009
Forum on the Solidarity Economy: Building Another World
March 19 - 22, 2009
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
BC Rural Communities Sustainability Forum
March 24 - 26, 2009
Green Festival: Sustainable Economy, Ecological Balance and Social Justice
March 28 - 29, 2009
Canadian Social Forum
May 19-22, 2009
2009 National CED Conference, Winnipeg, MB
June 3-6, 2009
Economic Development Association of Canada and Economic Development Association of BC 2009 Conference
September 18-23, 2009
Vancouver Click here>>
Economics (CANSEE) 8th Biennial Conference
Ecological Economics: Prosperity for a Sustainable Society - Canadian Society for Ecological October 15-17, 2009
The International Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference
November 1 - 3, 2009
Remote Community Clean Energy Program - If you're community is off the grid, here's a $20 million BC government program to stay off with support for sustainable community energy solutions.
Sustainable Community Plans 2008- $$ for municipal governments to develop sustainable community economic development strategies
Cycling Infrastructure Program
Deadline: January 30, 2009
Democracy Short Video Challenge
Deadline: January 31, 2008
Video competition for the Canadian Social Forum. Winners will receive $500 cash prize, travel and accommodations to the Canadian Social Forum, and an internship.
Federal Mountain Pine Beetle Program
First Nations Forestry Council
Green Municipal Fund Feasibility Studies and Field Tests
Aboriginal Youth Subsidies to attend Aboriginal Policy Research Conference, Ottawa
Deadline for applications: February 6, 2009
Senior Development Officer, Ecotrust Canada, Vancouver
Deadline: January 29
Island Planner, Islands Trust, Gabriola
Deadline: January 30
Aboriginal Community Development Coordinator
International Institute for Child Rights and Development, Vancouver
Deadline: February 13
Visit us on Facebook!
TO SUBSCRIBE OR UNSUBSCRIBE TO THIS NEWSLETTER CLICK HERE