Jim Flaherty

Jim Flaherty’s Keynesian moment, and its mixed results

Former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will be rightly remembered for the 2009 federal Budget which provided much-needed fiscal stimulus to boost a crisis-ridden Canadian economy and helped set the stage for recovery.

While the government was reluctant to act, domestic political as well as international pressure from the G20 forced even strict fiscal conservatives such as Prime Minister Harper and Minister Flaherty to find their inner Keynes.

Short-term infrastructure projects put many unemployed Canadians back to work, and extended unemployment benefits made a big difference...

Flaherty’s doubts about income splitting are one step to addressing inequality

This week has been a watershed moment in the battle against income inequality in Canada.

The curious twist is that it was comments made by Jim Flaherty – who, as Finance Minister, has actually exacerbated income inequality – that illuminate a fundamental shift in Canada’s political imagination.

Sometimes, the world works in mysterious ways.

A lot of ink has already been spilled about Mr. Flaherty’s unexpected decision to publicly repudiate family income splitting, the day after tabling a budget that set up the Conservative government to deliver on precisely this tax...

The unbalanced Harper budget

Presumably, Jim Flaherty considered the same economic picture of the country as the rest of us when planning the 2014 budget.

That picture is not rosy.

Almost one and half million Canadians are currently out of work. The unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at 7% and the employment rate (the proportion of the working age population with a job) has yet to recover since the great recession. For youth, the unemployment rate is almost double that, at 13.9%.

Add to that the growing proportion of precarious, part-time jobs, record-high levels of household debt, and...

Harper's unbalanced economic plan fails to help struggling Canadians

Budget sets the stage for income splitting, a costly and unfair tax giveaway

OTTAWA—Despite its commitment to eliminating the national deficit, Stephen Harper's 2014 budget denies Canadians the help they need to reduce inequality and create good jobs. The budget also prepares the way for the implementation of income splitting, a $3 billion tax giveaway that offers no help to the Canadians who need relief the most. 

With almost 1.5 million unemployed workers and a record 13% youth unemployment rate, Canadians need a government that...

Canada needs sound fiscal thinking, not balanced budget laws

In last year’s Speech from the Throne, the Harper government promised to introduce legislation to require “balanced budgets during normal economic times, and concrete time lines for return to balance in the event of an economic crisis.”

This proposed legislation makes little sense in terms of sound economic policy. But it will likely be introduced as part of the federal budget, expected early next month.

As Christopher Ragan argued...

As job crisis deepens, a do-nothing budget looms large

The job numbers for the end of 2013 could not have been much worse than this. But don't expect the Harper Conservatives to do anything about it in a February federal Budget which will be all about 2015 pre-election politics.

In December, the Canadian economy lost 60,000 full-time jobs, and the national unemployment rate rose sharply from 6.9 per cent to 7.2 per cent. The youth unemployment rate jumped from 13.4 per cent to 14 per cent.


Jim Flaherty, pensions, and economic doublespeak

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says the economy is too weak to support a modest, phased-in increase in Canada Pension Plan (CPP) premiums divided between employers and employees.

This is disputed by experts, and also contradicts Conservative messaging in two important ways.

First, in every other context, from the Speech from the Throne, to the recent Economic and Fiscal Update, the Conservatives have bragged about...

Flaherty's EI surplus sleight-of-hand

The Parliamentary Budget Office has come out with a report suggesting that the Conservatives will likely balance the budget ahead of schedule. But, and it’s a big but, they also found there would be no balanced budget in 2016 if there were no Employment Insurance (EI) surplus. 

The Conservatives' use of the EI surplus to pay for a balanced budget deserves closer scrutiny....

It’s time for Ottawa to walk the talk on skills training

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty thinks the provinces are wasting $2-billion in federal funding to support worker training, and says skills training will be “a priority of the budget.”

While employers tend to exaggerate the real extent of skills and labour shortages, there is no doubt that dealing with the growing issue of “jobs without people” is of central importance.

We can all agree that it is incredibly wasteful in both...

Ahead of 2013 budget, Flaherty should be serious about investing in public infrastructure

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is said to be considering extending funding for public infrastructure investment in his forthcoming budget, as urged by the Official Opposition, the provinces and municipalities. Let’s hope, for the sake of jobs and the environment, this is a significant, long-term initiative.

On the eve of the 2013 federal and provincial budget season, public sector austerity is still the order of...

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