Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Flaherty: Slump only 'mild'' challenge

This is from the Star.

Mild or not the slump is causing many Canadians severe economic problems. It matters little if the slump is mild and you lose your job and have problems finding any new work. It matters little if the slump is mild and yet you cannot afford to keep up your mortgage payment because you are unemployed. Flaherty doesn't have much empathy or even political sense to lecture people about the supposed greater problems faced by our forebears. Maybe he is appealing to some grumpy oldsters complaining about how soft the present generation is! It is sort of a variation on the old: In my day I used to walk three miles to school everyday refrain!

Flaherty calls slump only 'mild' challenge

TheStar.com - Canada - Flaherty calls slump only 'mild' challenge
Ancestors faced harsher times, he tells luncheon
April 04, 2009
Les WhittingtonOTTAWA BUREAU
LONDON – Canadians who are hurting from the economic slump should remember that, relatively speaking, it's only a "mild" calamity, says Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.
When Canadians compare their current situation to the hardships faced by forebears who braved disease and death to come to Canada "with nothing" many years ago, they will see that "this is a mild economic recession," he told a business audience here yesterday.
"These are relatively mild challenges for us, we will come out of this strongly."
Asked later how he could use the term "mild" to describe a downturn that has cost hundreds of thousands of Canadians their jobs, Flaherty said that, unlike past recessions, Canadians are not burdened by sky-high interest rates on loans and there is no housing bubble in Canada, "unlike some other countries where people are losing their houses."
"Our employment numbers are challenging, of course. We're going to have more bad numbers on employment," he acknowledged. The jobless rate now stands at 7.7 per cent, the highest since 2003.
Still, Canada entered the economic downturn later than most countries and is in a position to exit the recession with robust growth, Flaherty said.
For now, however, the best that can be said about the economy is that it might not fall too much farther, he argued in a luncheon address to the Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce.
Quoting an unnamed colleague's description of the economy, he observed, "in November, the ball rolled off the table and it hasn't hit the floor yet." About all that can be said is "we are closer to the bottom" of the economic recession, he told the luncheon.
Flaherty, who has long feuded with Premier Dalton McGuinty, was singing a different tune yesterday. He praised McGuinty for moving to harmonize Ontario's provincial sales tax with the federal goods and services tax.
Flaherty said this amounts to a stimulus of $5 billion a year for the Ontario economy and will cut business administrative costs by $500 million annually.
"It shows that there's some good that comes out of crisis," he added, referring to McGuinty's decision.
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