The level of taxation is always an issue at annual budget setting time, as well as in election campaigns.
A longer-term perspective on taxation levels in Canada was written a year ago in the UBC alumnae magazine (Trek) which reported research done by UBC public policy professor, Paul Kershaw.
He stated, that just ten years ago, taxes in Canada were $80 billion higher per year. “But, since 2000, we’ve prioritized tax cuts to pay ourselves first and foremost.” The three major areas of cuts were in: individual income tax; down nearly $38 billion; sales tax slashed by nearly $19 billion; and corporate taxes dropped by $18 billion per year.
In B.C., Liberals, elected to government in 2001, have cut taxes as drastically as any other jurisdiction in Canada.
The facts cited above do much to explain the many obvious problems in our society: such as increasing child poverty, homelessness, high student debt, increasing use of food banks, lack of affordable child care, restricted education budgets, and high youth unemployment.
Lack of funding has resulted in cuts or delays in many other areas; such as rapid transit in cities, renewal of aged infrastructure, forest management, cultural and heritage programs, scientific research, national and provincial parks, to name a few.
Many of the consequences listed above actually create drags on the economy if not addressed. Social problems result in higher health, policing and corrections costs. Poor infrastructure results in slower transport and more accidents, for example. Not investing in environmental research and support reduces fisheries and forest productivity in the long run.
We have seen a strangling of many sectors of society, both provincially and nationally as a result of major tax cuts in recent years and we need to start getting back to a more balanced approach.
If we ignore, shortchange or postpone funding for social, economic and environmental problems today, the solutions become more expensive in the future.