Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Passports are good things

A brief point on the Liberal Learning Passport that was announced today. Others have already blogged about its retail political upside and how the Conservatives have no credibility on budgeting given their billions in jets, jails, etc. So, one more here...

First, some quick numbers:
The $1-billion Canadian Learning Passport is the single largest annual investment in non-repayable federal student assistance in Canadian history, providing directly to families:

* $4,000 tax-free for every high school student who chooses to go to university, college or CÉGEP – $1,000 per year over four years; and
* $6,000 – or $1,500 each year – for high school students from low-income families.
John Ivison did a piece this afternoon on it. Note this paragraph on its financing:
The biggest knock on this planned investment is how it would be funded — primarily by increasing corporate tax rates back to last year’s rate (from 16.5% to 18%). Yet the coordinated plan between most of the provinces and Ottawa to reduce total corporate tax rates to 25% is designed to make Canada one of the most attractive investment opportunities in the world. As this space noted Monday, by expanding the tax base, the plan is near revenue neutral and, by some estimates, could attract $50-billion in new investment within seven years. Absent such plans to grow the economy, Mr. Ignatieff’s national learning strategy will remain an unaffordable pipe-dream.
Some might say to that argument that corporate Canada can't have it all ways all the time. There was a C-suite study released very recently that asked Canada's business executives about the economy and what their priorities were for the federal budget. Note what came first:
Q. What are your high federal budget priorities:

Investing in education and training: 58%

Investing in research and development: 52%

Investing in transport and infrastructure: 42%

Attacking the deficit more aggressively: 39%

Investing in renewable energy: 33%

Reducing personal income taxes: 33%

Assisting manufacturing sector: 28%

Improving retirement security: 15%
Investing in education and training is something that will greatly benefit business, clearly. So the question is who should help pay for that investment in education and training that is going to benefit business and yes, grow the economy by enhancing the future Canadian workforce? Someone has to do it. Seems only fair that corporate Canada that stands to benefit and wants such investments should shoulder some responsibility for helping to make it happen.