Ford hurting Scheer
If you’ve been following polls closely, it is pretty clear Doug Ford is not too popular in Ontario and his unpopularity is weighing Scheer down thus making his chances of winning a majority a much steeper hill to climb than it was a few months ago. Thanks to the large deficit the Wynne/McGuinty Liberals left, tough decisions had to be made, but Ford has been very sloppy about the cuts and totally unfocused. Austerity is never popular, but if you explain it properly and it is done with a long term goal in mind, you can minimize the backlash. That is why all along I stated the party needed someone more competent as there was a tough job ahead and for that you really need someone who knows what they are doing. While Ford may cost Scheer the election, Scheer still has options. He can emphasize spending cuts are never popular, but if the Liberals stay in power for another term they will be that much worse, so better to defeat them now when the deficit can be tamed without too much pain, than wait longer and be forced to endure even more painful cuts.
The pharmacare report is out and it calls for the government to go big and establish a single payer pharmacare, not just fill in the gaps. Skimming through the report, I feel it only looked at one side of the equation which is what will make prescription drugs more affordable, they didn’t look at the other side of how we are going to pay for it. I always believe if you want to develop a new program, you need to clearly state how it is going to be funded and the report didn’t go there which was disappointing. It is my hope if the Liberals and NDP in their platforms provide details on how it will be funded. Voters deserve the whole picture as almost anyone likes the idea of cheaper prescription drugs, but are people willing to pay more taxes for it? My personal view is while single payer is probably better overall and if starting from scratch that might be the way to go, you don’t blow up a whole system, better to make incremental changes than wholesale so if something goes wrong it can easily be corrected. As such due to the high price tag and the fact 80% already have coverage and this could mean for some coverage for fewer drugs (a common problem in countries with universal coverage for prescription drugs), I believe filling in the gaps makes more sense. Never mind good luck getting all the provinces to buy in, especially based on current fiscal situations and ideological leanings of current premiers. My other concern is if prescription drugs are now covered, many companies may decide to drop supplemental health coverage altogether for their employees meaning things like dental care, eye care, ambulance fees, private and semi-private rooms are no longer covered. I would personally be worse off as I got coverage through my previous employer, but carried it over now that I am self employed and as someone who typically spends 30+ days every year outside the country, my plan covers travel abroad so I personally wouldn’t benefit, but like with any policy I don’t just look at myself, I look at bigger picture. To cover the $15 billion, taxes will have to go up somewhere and that could be a tough sell and problematic too. Of the options, raising top marginal tax rates or corporate taxes won’t come close to covering the $15 billion and will just further erode Canada’s competitiveness. Raising income taxes on all brackets will also be bad for the economy as low and middle income individuals have high marginal propensity to spend so that reduces consumer spending hurting economic growth. Higher payroll taxes are a bad idea as this will hurt small businesses on top of the already increases for CPP. There are really only two options I could support that would cause minimal economic disruption.
- Raise the GST back to 7% which would bring in $14 billion, but I believe this would be a tough political sell, but smart economically.
- Introduce an employer’s health tax similar to BC which would exempt small businesses and only apply to large businesses many who provide employee coverage so overall cost to business would be neutral since higher taxes would be offset by lower costs on employee benefits. BC is able to get $2 billion a year here so when adjusting for population this might work.
My preference to bring down prices and make prescription drugs affordable for all would be to follow the Quebec model which is establish a public option with reduced or no premiums for low income individuals and allow individuals to freely decide if they wish to keep their private coverage or switch to the public option. This would be self financed so no cost to taxpayers and those who like their plan could stay with it.
C-69, C-48, and national unity
I oppose both bills and believe they are bad for the economy. Yes we need to take action on climate change and that is why I support a revenue neutral carbon tax. But trying to throw up as many barriers as possible to prevent us from getting oil to market is not the way to go about it. It is demand, not supply that drives oil production and if we don’t supply it, someone else will. In developed countries, oil consumption is declining, but in developing countries it is increasing as with strong economic growth there unlike the developed world, you have an emerging middle class who couldn’t afford a car in the past but now can. As such we are cutting our nose off by not supplying. I believe the complaints of the six premiers are quite legitimate and Trudeau’s comments about them hurting national unity are uncalled for. Just as Trudeau was elected on a mandate to take action here, the premiers were also legitimately elected too and I can say as someone with family in Alberta, the anger towards Trudeau is really palpable and while separatism is largely a fringe element, when a region is upset better to listen than turn a blind eye. Trudeau also needs to understand while he may have had it easy in first few years with mostly like minded premiers, in Canada more often than not provinces tend to vote opposites of federal government. Negotiations and working cooperatively is no doubt a challenge, but both sides need to be willing to listen as while it may be good for partisan purposes to pick fights with another level, it is not good for the country.