Press Release | Smoke-and-Mirrors Budget Robs Laid-Off Workers to Pay for Wealthy Tax Giveaways: Lauzon

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No Meaningful Support for Small Business; No Movement on Local Infrastructure

SAULT STE. MARIE (June 11, 2015) – NDP nomination candidate, Peggy Lauzon, critiqued the Conservative Budget on Thursday for failing to address the issues affecting Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma, while robbing the EI surplus to finance tax giveaways to the wealthy few.

“This budget is being ‘balanced’ by the EI surplus.  That surplus is funded by employees and matched at almost one and a half times that amount by small business owners, so really this budget is being funded on the backs of workers and small businesses,” said Lauzon.

The Conservative budget tabled earlier this year ignored calls for greater investment in childcare and affordable housing, while providing billions in tax breaks for large corporations and widening tax loopholes only for the wealthiest few.

“Sault Ste. Marie has been going through some major economic changes over the last twenty years, and small businesses have been some of the main drivers of our economic recovery. Yet small business owners don’t have access to shortage-of-work benefits despite paying into EI, leaving many in our community with little safety net,” explained Lauzon. “Meanwhile, the EI Small Business Job Credit is needlessly convoluted, while the quarterly employer remittance scheme adds even more weight to the load being carried by small businesses.  These enterprises are managing monies in trust, via payroll deductions and their own contributions, with no support on how to do that properly and with penalties that can go as high as 20% of the amount owing if they are late. These are not the actions of a government that understands small business.”

While the budget offered modest extensions to EI training support benefits for some applicants, it steals the very money intended to pay for those benefits in order to balance the government’s books. The budget implementation bill also provided sweeping new powers to the Treasury Board to circumvent public-sector collective agreements and dictate terms for sick leave and disability programs.

“It’s another case of the Conservatives taking from workers to give back to the wealthy,” said Lauzon, “and the fact that we continue to see no meaningful movement on affordable housing and childcare demonstrates a clear lack of concern for families across the Sault who are struggling to make ends meet.”

The budget was also short on badly needed local infrastructure investment. Proposed transit and infrastructure measures are buried in red-tape and fall short of the NDP’s proposed stable funding plan that was lauded by Mayors at a meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in Edmonton last weekend.

The NDP have committed to investing $1.3 billion each year into public transportation, while increasing municipal gas tax revenue by one cent, generating an additional $1.5 billion for vital infrastructure by the end of the NDP’s first term.

The Conservatives have offered only the most reluctant support for maintaining Sault Ste. Marie’s only remaining passenger rail services. Bryan Hayes announced a three-year reprieve for the Algoma Central Railway passenger line to Hearst on its midnight funding deadline.

“The timing, both of the announcement and the length of the commitment, is insulting to the citizens who’ve worked tirelessly to keep our rail infrastructure going,” said Lauzon. “Some people think having an MP from a governing party helps attract government investment. Bryan Hayes is living proof that isn’t true, especially when that government just doesn’t consider working and middle class Canadians a priority.”

“The people of Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma know we can do better. Small business owners, unionized and non-unionized workers all share a vision to make a decent living in a thriving community. Together we can make that vision a reality, but we need a government and an MP that are willing to do their part. As Sault Ste. Marie’s MP, I will provide that change, support, and shared vision that we need in Ottawa.”

About Peggy Lauzon:

Peggy Lauzon is a small business owner and community developer running for the NDP nomination in Sault Ste. Marie.

She is the founder and president of The Aberdeen Group, which provides accounting and consulting services to other small businesses and not-for-profits across Algoma.

As a volunteer, she has been actively involved with the Soup Kitchen Health Centre Advisory Committee, the Sault Ste. Marie Family YMCA, St Luke’s Cathedral and the Anishinabek Information Technology Centre, among many other groups.

Lauzon also teaches community engagement and strategic planning at Algoma University and works closely with young people to help support their change-making efforts.

NDP Members will gather 7 p.m. on June 16th at the Delta Waterfront Hotel to elect their candidate for the upcoming federal election expected in October. Follow Peggy’s campaign on her website or via Facebook.

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