October 11, 2012

We told you so!

Reprinted from the Oct. 16th issue of People`s Voice

Here at People's Voice we aren't shy about making the case for policies to put people before profits. Occasionally we have been accused of exaggerating the facts to make a political point. So it's great to see mainstream media reports which back up our arguments.

Here are two recent examples, starting with corporate taxation.

For years, we have called to stop the reduction of taxes on corporations, a neoliberal policy that puts an increasing burden on working people.

Don't take our word for it. Turns out that "the tax burden for businesses in Canada is second lowest among 14 major countries and lowest among developed countries, according to a KPMG survey of international tax competitiveness." (That's the Globe and Mail speaking on Sept. 25.)

KPMG's Elio Luongo (probably no relation to Roberto of the Vancouver Canucks) says that "the tax system is often what tips the scales" in attracting investment.

India had the lowest overall tax levels. China, Mexico and Russia ranged third, fourth and fifth. Among developed countries, Britain ranked second, followed by the Netherlands, the United States, Germany, Australia and Japan.

KPMG uses an index composed of corporate income tax, capital taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, local business taxes and statutory payroll taxes, using rates applicable as of Jan. 1, 2012.

Comparing major international cities, KPMG also found that Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal are all in the top 10 among 55 cities with populations of more than two million. All 16 Canadian cities analyzed by KPMG had lower tax rates than the least taxed U.S. city - Baton Rouge, Louisiana. So much for all the whining from corporate shills about Canada's "heavy tax burden"!

Then we come to the supposedly complex problem of homelessness. People's Voice has long stated that simply building more low-income housing would be a great way to cut spending on health care, emergency services, policing, etc. Too expensive, according to right-wing politicians and corporate think tanks.

Now, a new study by Stephen Gaetz, director of the Canadian Homelessness Research Network, based on research from across North America, suggests it's far cheaper to give a homeless person a place to live than to provide a patchwork of emergency services.

Gaetz says governments spend at least $4.5 billion a year dealing with homeless people, including the costs of emergency health care, mental‑health services, law enforcement, shelters and food banks. Their use of the health system is high and unpredictable, and many end up homeless again after brushes with the law upon release from jail.

For chronically homeless people who are frequent users of social services, the annual savings are $25,899 per person, enough for a "housing first" approach across Canada, according to the newly formed Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.

$4.5 billion would build an estimated 45,000 housing units. Such an investment over several years would end street homelessness across Canada. Too expensive? No, and we'll continue to say "told you so".

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