And by 'it' I mean poverty or even living on the edge. By 'they' I mean Canada's Conservative Party.
I listened to Jim Flaherty's presentation of the budget. It covered a number of issues the Conservatives don't always seem to address -- employment insurance, social housing, and even plans for tax relief on home renovations. I also heard them talk about developing high-speed Internet access as an aspect of building infrastructure.
So what were some of their ideas that seemed like their heads were in the clouds?
I think they're naive in thinking that very many first-time home buyers will be helped by being allowed to withdraw $25,000 from their RRSP funds rather than the current $20,000 permitted. Heck, I'm a home-owner and I don't even have (nor never did have) as much as $20k in my RRSP. If you're poor (and I'm not any more), both of those numbers are an impossible amount.
When they talked about tax-relief on home renovations, they had to throw in the idea of building 'a deck' -- not quite the same thing as replacing a furnace that doesn't work any more. Or even better, renovating 'the cottage'. Nice, if you're one of those families who have a cottage. But I'd like to know just what percentage of Canadians that really means. I'm certainly not a part of that bunch -- and of all my many friends, I only know two who qualify.
But the thing I found most interesting was the changes on income tax for the lowest-paid earners. It sounds as if the base amounts will be raised and that basic exemptions will be increased. While I wholeheartedly support these actions, the ineffective part is the fact that these changes will go into effect retroactive only to January 1, 2009.
If they were serious about stimulating the economy now, when it really needs a push-start, they'd make these initiatives take effect January 1, 2008. This would put a bit of extra money in people's pockets almost immediately. To me at least, that's an idea that would make a lot of dollars and sense.