Much has already been written about the federal budget. My own opinion is that while I am happy to see a small breakthrough – finally – in money earmarked for Canada’s crumbling social housing stock, much in the budget leaves me scratching my head.
Extend EI benefits by five weeks? Sure – but it hardly helps when many people can’t afford to live on the meager EI rate to begin with, or when only 40% of people who lose their jobs qualify under current rules.
Home reno tax credits? While it may stimulate some job creation, it’s also going to stimulate places like Home Depot and IKEA.
Infrastructure spending? Great, but cities are too broke to match funds.
Where is the serious effort at educating and retraining people for a new economy? Where is the heavy investment in climate change initiatives and green industry, a transformation we can’t afford not to make – and soon? Where are the major repairs to our social safety net, which has now frayed so far it is barely holding together?
And where is the acknowledgement that the budget’s purpose is to prevent poverty?
That’s what its number one goal should be, right? If we’re not using this stimulus package to prevent more people from slipping into poverty during the recession, what are we doing?
Yet the word “poverty” was not mentioned in the budget even once. How terribly strange.
I know this because the Toronto Star published a word cloud about it – that’s where a computer is fed some text and then spits out a graphic made of representative words from that text. The more times an individual word is used in the source, the larger it appears in the graphic. It’s a bit of a gimmick, but in this case, it does make the point.
In Jim Flaherty’s budget speech, the most often-used words are:
Canadians (88 times)
economic, plan (45)
government, economy (31)
provide, tax (28)
And “poverty”? (0)
- Julia Morgan