Thursday, January 28, 2010

Liberals Unveil Employment Strategy: Job, Jobs, Jobs!

One thing I really like about Michael Ignatieff, as revealed in the video above, is that he answers questions directly and honestly. He treats his audience with respect. A knee-jerk response to the copyright question, in a room full of young students, would be to promise to remove restrictions.

But he doesn't do that. He presents it from both sides, reminding them that artists need to make a living, so copyright laws are in place to make sure that they can. Otherwise, we would have few artists. Van Gogh used to trade his paintings for rent and groceries and Picasso once had a cabinet built for him simply by signing his sketches.

Artists need to be able to support themselves.

The other thing I like about Michael Ignatieff is that, although he has made the list of the world's top 100 thinkers many times, from a variety of publications, his greatest gift is in making us think. We are all in this together.

Liberals offer 3 proposals for job creation
January 27, 2010
CBC News

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff on Wednesday presented a three-pronged approach to generate long-term economic growth in Canada. (Remember the Barrie MP who states that Harper will never allow our economy to grow? That's not how neo-conservatism works.)

"Jobs are the priority for Liberals," Ignatieff told reporters on Parliament Hill. "We have to bring Canadians back to work."

Cash advance for some manufacturers

The Liberals' first proposal is providing a cash advance on the accelerated capital cost allowance (ACCA), a program that allows manufacturers to write off certain capital expenditures on new equipment designed to produce energy more efficiently or to produce energy from alternative, renewable sources. This proposal would help a sector that has been "particularly hard hit," Ignatieff said.

"The existing ACCA rules allow manufacturers to buy new equipment now and claim the allowance later when they're profitable, but that doesn't help if you can't get access to cash or credit right now," said Ignatieff.

Youth employment boost

The second proposal would tackle what Ignatieff called "the worst youth unemployment crisis in a generation" by providing financial incentives to companies to hire young Canadians.

The unemployment rate among those aged 15 to 24 was 16.1 per cent in December 2009, according to Statistics Canada, almost double the national average of 8.1 per cent. "We think this is a scandal," Ignatieff said. "You don't want the best and brightest in our country to start their working lives on the unemployment line."

The incentive would come in the form of an employment insurance holiday or straight grant. It would cost the government between $30 million and $100 million, said John McCallum, the Liberals' finance critic. The Canada Summer Jobs program, which provides funding to employers to hire students, should also be boosted, Ignatieff said.

Tax incentives for entrepreneurs

Finally, the Liberals suggested providing new tax incentives to encourage entrepreneurship in sectors like clean energy and the life sciences. "Encouraging venture capital investment is absolutely crucial to get improvement in our employment," said Ignatieff, adding that such investment is at a 14-year low.

Of the three, McCallum said, the first provides "a really good bang for the buck." It would cost the government initially between $20 million and $30 million, but the cash advance would eventually be paid back.

Together, the Liberals hope the proposals will "fire up investment" and get Canadians back to work, he said. Ignatieff also took a swipe at the Conservatives and in particular Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has suspended Parliament until March.

"We've shown you can walk and chew gum at the same time," Ignatieff said of his party. "[Harper] shut the place down, but Liberals are still working, and we hope our proposals will help this government to recalibrate, as they call it."

He said he hopes the Conservatives will consider his party's proposals when they prepare their next budget.

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