Kevin Page Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer, wants the Harper government to fully outline its projections on how billions in program cuts will impact Canadians in the coming years, a request that has so far fallen on deaf ears.
Page told CAW convention delegates on August 21 that in the wake of the Conservative government decision to freeze national program spending for five years, there was no information provided to Members of Parliament on projected impacts and possible remedies. This undercuts accountability measures expected of the government from opposition party members and from the Canadian public at large.
In June, a legal opinion sought out by the Parliamentary Budget Office found that the government’s refusal to release full details is a breach of the Parliament of Canada Act.
Page said he is willing to take this matter to federal court, if need be – a pledge met by a round of applause from the convention floor.
In a series of PowerPoint charts and graphs, Page revealed government budgetary revenues at record lows, that program expenditures have dropped substantially over the past decade and that an estimated 100,000 jobs are on the chopping block as a result of austerity measures.
“There is a cost to austerity,” said Page, who oversees Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Office mandated to provide independent analysis to Parliament on the state of the nation’s finances, the government’s estimates and trends in the Canadian economy.
Page also refuted the Harper government’s claim that extending the age threshold to receive Old Age Security benefits to 67, and refusing to improve benefits under the Canada Pension Plan, is necessary to meet the challenges of Canada’s aging population.
“The feds couldn’t say they didn’t see this coming,” Page said, emphasizing the budgetary sustainability of the government currently. He stressed that the demographic challenges are fully manageable.