CANADA – 150 YEARS
I think it is very important that at this time in our history, Canadians know that we reside in one of the most successful nations in the world.
We need to realize that after only 150 years of existence our very small population (27 in world rank) has become the 11th largest economy in the world. Also, Canada is now one of the top six richest countries on earth. Inthe last 5 years we have reached a G.D.P. per capita equal to the G.D.P. per capita of the United States, one of the most successful countries in the
By international standards we rate number 5 on the World Economic Freedom Index. This too is very important.
This is a remarkable achievement of the Canadian people by any standard and something we should be proud of.
In a more and more competitive global economy we are beginning to feel the competitive pressure of the awakening Asian goliaths such as China, India and the other rapidly industrializing nations of South East Asia like Singapore, South Korea and Australia.
Our problem looking forward, is simply how to retain our competitive position on top of the world while at the same time, retaining our individual liberty.
One way to do this and to be competitive is to keep the cost of
government and the resultant taxation it necessitates as low as possible. At present, Canada¹s combined federal and provincial top marginal tax rates at 53.5% are the second highest compared to those in the G7 countries. In order to keep us competitive in the global economy, we should reduce our current high tax levels by reducing the cost of government and thus the need for
these non-competitive high levels of taxation more on this later.
Despite our forays in the past into socialist fantasies, which I will
also deal with later, our conservative forefathers gave us a solid social and economic basis to become one of the most successful countries in the world.
One of the great leaders and one of our most successful and respected Prime Ministers of our past was Sir Wilfred Laurier (1896-1919). Laurier stated that ³The role of Government is not to force action in any one direction but to remove barriers to man¹s own efforts to undertake personal and social development.² ³Man must be free to seek his own improvement and must be responsible for his own destiny.² His comments are a clear statement of the conservative policies that guaranteed our past success.
In the face of the growing left wing rhetoric that big government will solve our problems, I think it is especially important to remember that a growing, productive, Canadian economy is the essential basis, and the only source of income we have to solve our present and future social, economic and environmental problems.
Surely then the biggest issue facing Canadians today is how to retain our prized position and how to sustain and build upon it into the future. To meet this challenge I believe one of the first things we must do is to clearly understand our situation and how we got here.
Our assets of human capital, natural resources, and our financial and political stability are well known and appreciated. But what of our threats?
I think it important to objectively identify and consider the current threats that could undermine Canada¹s future and the continuing success, productivity, and the prosperity of this and future generations.
These threats to our continuing success come not from without, but from within.
We must recognize we have problems that must be faced if we are to continue our progress. Such problems can no longer be ignored or swept under the rug by the current political correctness, silence, and evasion.
Three of the most serious problems we must face and solve are the aboriginal crisis, the growing and unsustainable levels of debt and taxation, and a vast, too costly, failing government health care monopoly.
The aboriginal issue is far more costly, dysfunctionally damaging to aboriginals and to Canada as a whole than most of us realize. We must ignore the cloud of misinformation and propaganda, and begin to immediately work closely with the aboriginal community and to be of practical help. This is a tragedy in my opinion, of a people, too many of whom, are on a one way road
to breakdown and collapse.
If we continue to ignore the plight of our aboriginals, we run the risk of very serious consequences. While we must
work with them, throwing more money at this clearly cultural breakdown is like pouring gasoline on a fire to put it out.
According to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (I.N.C.A) Canada increased total Aboriginal welfare from $82 million annually in 1946/47 to over $7.9 Billion in 2013/14. Welfare costs per aboriginal individual rose from $939.00 per person in 1949/50 to $8,578.00 per person in 2013/14, an increase of 814%.
So throwing money at this problem is not helpful. During this period repeated reports of increased suicides, increased rates of prison incarceration, increased drug addiction and alcoholism, increased violence and social despair, and the lack of hope for the young seem to be leading to a collapse of many of these isolated communities. During this period average unemployment on the reserves was above 20% and high school graduation rates
under 40%. What we have been doing, isn¹t working, and it isn¹t going to be helpful in the future.
In my opinion, instead of wallowing in our past mistakes and failures, we should begin to focus on methods to ensure a better future for our aboriginals.
But certainly without a positive new direction, the human misery,
divisiveness and conflict will escalate.
Perhaps the most serious of our 3 major challenges is the problem of the steadily growing federal debt of $1.2 Trillion.
In 2014/15 the debt-to-G.D.P. ratio was 30.9%. With the latest increase in debt, it now stands at 31.5% of G.D.P.. To continue to increase debt in the face of slow world wide economic growth is a serious mistake.
Big threats like the 3 above and smaller problems like our costly and unconstitutional interprovincial trade barriers, and the Supply Management farm cartel which severely overcharges consumers for milk, eggs and chicken, must also be dealt with as soon as possible.
These lesser threats can all be recognized, ameliorated, and
successfully dealt with in turn if we describe them objectively and have the political will to solve them.
If we are concerned about being globally non-competitive, I believe Canadians should be aware that Canada is burdened by an exceeding high cost of government. Perhaps even more alarming than its excessive cost, is its growth rate. Governments have been growing in the last 20 years at the alarming rate of 22.6% per year while the private sector growth has been
less than half that.
In 1970 the government consumed only 17% of our gross domestic product while now it consumes over 40% of our G.D.P. These high costs are increased by the continually growing number of civil servants in Canada which now exceeds 3.6 million on the taxpayers payroll. This privileged group has grown to become 24% of Canada¹s total workforce.
While these numbers grow we also learn that these civil servants enjoy wages, salaries, benefits and pensions that are 10-12% greater than earned by private sector employees for the same work.
The later and later ³tax freedom day² is a simple portrayal of the
continuing rise in taxation needed to pay for excessive government and its massive spending.
³Tax freedom day² is the day of the year when we stop paying taxes to the government and is a very simple way to measure what government confiscates of our income during every 12 month period. Tax freedom day is the first day you stop paying taxes to the government and can now keep what you have earned to put food on the table for your family and pay your living expenses.
Tax freedom day in 1912 was at the end of January.
Tax freedom day in 1960 was at the end of March.
Tax freedom day in 2015 was July 7th.
As taxes rise, tax freedom day gets later and later every year. If we paid 100% of our income in taxes we would be called slaves. What do we call ourselves when we pay more than 50% of our income half slaves?
This confiscation of family income is particularly alarming since, for an average family of four, their taxes, for the first time in our history, are larger than the combined cost of the families food, shelter, and clothing.
Canadians instead of listening to political propaganda, and party spin doctors, should instead ask one critical and vital question. This question must be asked of every politician and every proposed government policy: Is it productive? Will it work? Or is it just another costly, phoney tax burden?
We should insist that those we elect understand clearly that our growth in wealth, standard of living, employment security, and liberty comes not from government, but from our citizen¹s savings, investments and productive work in a free, competitive, privately owned market system.
We need to heed the worldwide lesson of the 20th century that the only solution to poverty is not more government but well payed employment for our people in a growing free economy.
In Canada in the three decades following World War II the balance between the capitalist free market system which allocates resources through markets and our political system which allocates resources in accordance with a political agenda, was kept in balance. This equilibrium gave Canadians low taxes, economic growth, low inflation, rising incomes, full
employment and income mobility. This in turn during this 30 years, after World War II led to the steady growth of individual prosperity.
But at the end of this period of prosperity Canadians elected a Prime Minister who soon disabled the heretofore successful balance between a free market economy and a government spending agenda. His name was Pierre Elliot Trudeau.
By the end of his regime the Federal debt rose tenfold to 200 Billion, the rate of unemployment nearly tripled from 3% to 11%, Federal spending soared annually from $12.9 to $109.2 Billion, and inflation as a result of this irresponsible spending rose to 15% the highest among developing nations.
It took his successors many years, and punitive wage and price controls to rectify this regime.
My point is that I believe we must be careful to avoid allowing this kind of imbalance between our free market economic system and another socialist experiment no matter how charismatic its proponent.
To protect our successful position in the world we do not need any more ideologically driven utopian social theories, but rather a pragmatic system of governance that delivers measurable benefits to taxpayers.
And lastly is our health care system and its unacceptable growing wait times which have now escalated to 22 weeks on average.
The Fraser Institute studies published in 2015 of ³Comparative Health Care Systems² in other Western Nations such as the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland, found, contrary to what we are told,
Canada has the highest cost age-adjusted health care system in the world.
And despite the cost we do not receive value for money. For example these studies found, we are rated 19th in ³in hospital care fatality rates within 30 days of ischemic stroke², and in the number of doctors per hundred thousand population Canada ranks 24th out of the 25 nations studied.
In the number of M.R.I. units per million population, Canada despite being number one in costs, ranks number 17 in this necessary diagnostic tool.
A second study which rates 10 of the world¹s health care systems is the recent study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund of Washington D.C. In this study Canada rated second last of the ten nations studied. Of the other countries in this survey, all allow competing private for-profit health care systems except Canada. All of these countries except for one outranked
All of these countries except for one outranked Canada in cost, health outcomes, wait times and equitable care.
All the current rationing of health services does is increase wait times and further weaken patient access.
To increase the health care supply, cut wait times, lower costs, and improve patient health outcomes, we must repeal the Canadian Health Care Act and immediately allow private for-profit health care operations in Canada.
This is a solution that is long, long overdue. The root problem that must be changed is the lack of competition to the inefficient Canadian Health Care government monopoly.
The superiority of the Canadian Health Care cartel is a highly touted myth. Why is this myth so assiduously promoted and who benefits? You can rest assured it does not benefit Canadian patients, taxpayers or our over stressed doctors!
Why are we so resistant to allow essential competition in health care which can only benefit the patient and the taxpayer as it does in every other western nation in the world?
Why is it our politicians remain completely silent on this major issue?
The central question remains! As a people do we have the understanding and the will to meet the challenge of an increasingly complex and competitive world in the 21st century or not?
In summary I, for one, believe we must begin now to contain and reduce the increasing burden of government on our citizens and on the free market system which has been so successful for all Canadians in the past.
I believe to reach our true potential as a nation we must improve our competitiveness and address our major threats the aboriginal crisis, our growing massive debt, and our broken health care system now before they become intractable.
If we want to ensure the future we will have to return to a more
pragmatic, productive and balanced consumption and deployment of all of our human and natural resources, less government and to the brand of economic freedom, individual independence, and common sense that has served us so well in the past.
George MacDonell served seven years in
The Canadian Army in World War II,
as a CEO in Canadian industry, and as a
Deputy Minister of Industry Trade &
Technology in The Government of Ontario.