The major challenge for the federal government in the budget expected this month is to maintain its commitment to progressive social and economic policies in the context of a major shift to the political right in the United States.
Economists and pundits are at odds over medium term prospects for the global economy. Pessimists see stagnant growth, rising inequality and growing unemployment and underemployment, widely held to be responsible for the rise of right-wing populists such as US President elect Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, techno optimists such as Erik Bryjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, the authors of The Second Machine Age, argue that the digital economy will drive rapid productivity growth and underpin the gradual emergence of a post scarcity economy capable of providing prosperity for all.
The Trudeau government's fiscal plan as updated in the Fall Economic Statement meets a number of progressive commitments, but also raises a lot of questions about what can be expected of the federal Budget to be tabled next March.
The Advisory Council on Economic Growth chaired by Domenic Barton has proposed to federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau the creation of an independent Canadian Infrastructure Development Bank (CIDB) to help finance $200 billion of public infrastructure projects over the next decade. There is an argument for improved financing tools, but no case for such a lever for massive and costly privatization.
The report of the Council reiterates the consensus view that investment in public infrastructure such as roads, mass transit, railways, ports, water and waste water treatment, clean energy and power grids has been too low, and that a major increase could drive immediate job creation while also boosting longer term economic growth.
The Broadbent Institute is an independent, non partisan organization that promotes progressive change. Grounded in social democratic values and ideas, the Institute seeks to deepen our democracy, encourage strong action to counter growing economic and social inequality, and fuel a transition to a more innovative and sustainable economy. This submission lays out concrete policy proposals that the government should consider if it is serious about implementing progressive reforms in Budget 2016.
Low oil prices have taken their toll on an already weak Canadian economy, where household debt levels are at record highs and business investment continues to lag. The Bank of Canada held off on a further rate cut this week, opting instead to wait and see the size and structure of fiscal stimulus in the upcoming federal budget.
Seven years after the great financial crisis of 2008, the world economy remains at high risk of a new slump despite continued ultra low interest rates. The IMF has called on the United States to put any interest rate increase on hold so as not to worsen the still extremely weak economic situation in Europe and developing countries, notably China.