Yukon’s federal transfers are safe from the chopping block, says Treasury Board President Tony Clement.
So is employment insurance, old age security and other federal transfers to individuals.
This means most Yukoners won’t feel the effects of federal cutbacks that aim to trim $4 billion in government spending by 2014, Clement told the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce on Monday.
You’ll need to take the federal bagman’s word on it. Clement offered no specifics as to where spending will be cut.
That’s up to individual departments and agencies that are currently reviewing their spending, he said.
Clement hasn’t seen any reviews yet. He expects to begin receiving them in the autumn. Details won’t be released until the 2012 budget is tabled next spring.
But, with $200 billion in transfers off the table, that leaves $80 billion in operations spending to be cut. Trimming $4 billion works out to a five per cent spending reduction.
Already, Ottawa is preparing to cut more than 10 per cent of the jobs at Environment Canada. Last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper quickly reversed the department’s plans to shutter nearly all its water monitoring stations in the Northwest Territories, after territorial politicians kicked up a fuss.
Harper told reporters that those cuts were unauthorized by cabinet.
Clement maintained that Canada’s water and air would be kept “second to none” and that department staff will “have to show these are reasonable cuts that don’t affect their core mission.”
Beyond this, he wouldn’t offer any specifics on how the cuts would affect government’s operations. “I wouldn’t want to engage in speculation.”
Clement’s speech largely dwelled on how Canada has weathered the global recession better than most rich countries.
Since 2009, Canada has created 600,000 new jobs. That’s more than what was lost during the economic downtown, said Clement. And more than three-quarters of those jobs are full time.
Canada’s unemployment rate is more than one per cent point lower than that of the US. And our economy is considered the best of the G20, according to the International Monetary Fund.
All this means Canada faces a far easier task in slaying its deficit than other countries – notably the United States.
The US needs to trim $4 trillion in spending. Canada aims to only cut $4 billion.
“We’re nowhere near the kind of decisions that Americans will need to make,” said Clement.
Canada’s ratio between debt and gross domestic product – a common measurement used to gauge the health of a country’s economy – is around 34 per cent.
The UK’s is 75 per cent. Japan’s is 110 per cent. The US, before recession, was 68 per cent.
“So far, Canada has been doing really well,” said Clement.
He stood by the Conservative plan to return back to black by 2014-15. Lingering debt punishes future generations, he warned.
“People want to see a return to balanced budgets.”
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