Economist Don Drummond Postmedia

Raise taxes for common good: ISARC

  • March 22, 2012

The Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition is telling Ontario’s Liberal government what it didn’t want to hear from economist Don Drummond — raise taxes.

The McGuinty government mandated the Drummond Commission to come up with ways to balance the province’s books but forbade the former bank economist from considering more taxes. ISARC makes no bones about urging action on the revenue side of the equation.

“Taxes are the way we acknowledge our obligations to each other and to the common good,” ISARC wrote in its submission to the finance committee.

The coalition of faith communities who run most of Ontario’s food banks, clothing banks, shelters and other emergency services for the poor also blames tax cuts for the sorry state of Ontario’s books. Corporate tax cuts have proven ineffective in boosting the economy and have made it more difficult for the province to fight poverty, according to ISARC.

“The greatest single beneficiary of these corporate tax cuts is the highly profitable financial sector,” they write. “The corporate tax cuts were supposed to stimulate the economy by increasing investment, but there’s no evidence that is happening.”

The religious lobby isn’t simplistically demanding the government tax the rich, ISARC chair Rev. Dr. Susan Eagle said. “It’s not just more taxes. It’s more revenue from taxes through a fairer system,” she said.

That more taxes are rarely a winning political strategy doesn’t faze Eagle. “What is faith-based action except believing in things people initially say is impossible?”

If the province can’t or won’t protect social spending in the budget churches, synagogues, mosques and temples will be left facing an avalanche of family breakdown, hunger and homelessness as holes in the safety net grow, said Eagle. Supported by Ontario’s Catholic bishops and several Catholic religious orders, ISARC is quite aware its call for higher taxes goes against prevailing wisdom.

“A voice in the wilderness is not a bad place to be, history tells us,” said Eagle.

The provincial budget comes down March 28.

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