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Honda deal latest episode of corporate welfare in Ontario

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4 minute read

From the Fraser Institute

By Jake Fuss and Tegan Hill

If Honda, Volkswagen and Stellantis are unwilling to build their EV battery plants in Ontario without corporate welfare, that sends a strong signal that those projects make little economic sense.

On Thursday, the Trudeau and Ford governments announced they will dole out an estimated $5 billion in corporate welfare to Honda so the auto giant can build an electric vehicle (EV) battery plant and manufacture EVs in Ontario. This is the third such deal in Ontario, following similar corporate welfare handouts to Volkswagen ($13.2 billion) and Stellantis ($15.0 billion). Like the previous two deals, the Honda deal comes at a significant cost to taxpayers and will almost certainly fail to create widespread economic benefits for Ontarians.

The Trudeau and Ford governments finalized the Honda deal after more than a year of negotiations, with both governments promising direct incentives and tax credits. Of course, this isn’t free money. Taxpayers in Ontario and the rest of Canada will pay for this corporate welfare through their taxes.

Unfortunately, corporate welfare is nothing new. Governments in Canada have a long history of picking their favoured firms or industries and using a wide range of subsidies and other incentives to benefit those firms or industries selected for preferential treatment.

According to a recent study, the federal government spent $84.6 billion (adjusted for inflation) on business subsidies from 2007 to 2019 (the last pre-COVID year). Over the same period, provincial and local governments spent another $302.9 billion on business subsidies for their favoured firms and industries. (Notably, the study excludes other forms of government support such as loan guarantees, direct investments and regulatory privileges, so the total cost of corporate welfare during this period is actually much higher.)

Of course, when announcing the Honda deal, the Trudeau and Ford governments attempted to sell this latest example of corporate welfare as a way to create jobs. In reality, however, there’s little to no empirical evidence that corporate welfare creates jobs (on net) or produces widespread economic benefits.

Instead, these governments are simply picking winners and losers, shifting jobs and investment away from other firms and industries and circumventing the preferences of consumers and investors. If Honda, Volkswagen and Stellantis are unwilling to build their EV battery plants in Ontario without corporate welfare, that sends a strong signal that those projects make little economic sense.

Unfortunately, the Trudeau and Ford governments believe they know better than investors and entrepreneurs, so they’re using taxpayer money to allocate scarce resources—including labour—to their favoured projects and industries. Again, corporate welfare actually hinders economic growth, which Ontario and Canada desperately need, and often fails to produce jobs that would not otherwise have been created, while also requiring financial support from taxpayers.

It’s only a matter of time before other automakers ask for similar handouts from Ontario and the federal government. Indeed, after Volkswagen secured billions in federal subsidies, Stellantis stopped construction of an EV battery plant in Windsor until it received similar subsidies from the Trudeau government. Call it copycat corporate welfare.

Government handouts to corporations do not pave the path to economic success in Canada. To help foster widespread prosperity, governments should help create an environment where all businesses can succeed, rather than picking winners and losers on the backs of taxpayers.

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Economy

Trudeau’s bureaucrat hiring spree is out of control

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From the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Author: Franco Terrazzano

Bureaucrats love to think of themselves as “public servants,” but who is really serving who around here?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau added another 10,525 bureaucrats to the taxpayer payroll last year. Since becoming prime minister, Trudeau has added more than 108,000 new federal bureaucrats.

That’s a 42 per cent increase in the federal bureaucracy in less than a decade.

Ask yourself, are you getting 42 per cent better services from the federal government? Unless your paycheque comes from taxpayers, the answer is a big fat NO.

While Trudeau’s bureaucracy grew by 42 per cent, Canada’s population grew by 14 per cent.

That means there would be 72,491 fewer federal paper pushers had Trudeau kept growth in the bureaucracy in line with population growth.

It’s not just the size of the bureaucracy that’s ballooning – the cost is too.

The total cost of the federal payroll hit $67 billion last year, a record high. That’s a 68 per cent increase over 2016.

Trudeau gave federal bureaucrats more than one million pay raises in the last four years alone.

Since taking office, Trudeau also rubberstamped about $1.4 billion in taxpayer-funded bonuses to bureaucrats working in federal departments.

The bonuses were paid out despite the Parliamentary Budget Officer finding “less than 50 per cent of [performance] targets are consistently met.”

Then there’s the bonuses at failing Crown corporations.

CBC dished out $15 million in bonuses last year, while their President and CEO Catherine Tait whined about “chronic underfunding” and begged the government for more taxpayer cash. The CBC takes more than $1 billion from taxpayers every year.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation dished out $102 million in bonuses over the last four years, while Canadians couldn’t afford to buy a home. The bonuses rained down, despite the CMHC repeatedly claiming it’s “driven by one goal: housing affordability for all.”

The Bank of Canada dished out more than $60 million in bonuses over the last three years, even though it failed to do its one and only job: keep inflation low and around two per cent.

The average annual compensation for a full-time federal bureaucrat is $125,300, when pay, pension and perks are accounted for, according to the PBO.

There are now more than 110,000 federal bureaucrats taking home a six-figure base salary – an increase of 154 per cent since Trudeau took power.

Meanwhile, data from Statistics Canada suggests the average annual salary among all full-time workers in Canada was less than $70,000 in 2023.

Here’s why all this matters:

First, it’s an issue of fairness. The last few years have spelled hardship for Canadians who don’t work for the government, but do pay the bills.

Countless Canadians were sent to the ranks of the unemployed, lost their business and struggled to afford rising rents and costly grocery trips.

They’re paying higher taxes so more highly-paid bureaucrats can take bigger paycheques.

Second, more than half of the federal government’s day-to-day spending is consumed by the bureaucracy. That means any government that wants to fix the budget dumpster fire must shrink the bureaucracy.

Let’s recap:

Taxpayers paid for 108,000 new federal bureaucrats. Taxpayers paid for more than one million pay raises over the last four years. Taxpayers paid for more than $1 billion in bonuses.

And bureaucrats barely meet even half of their performance targets – targets they set for themselves.

It’s clear Trudeau’s bureaucratic bloat isn’t serving taxpayers. It’s time to find a pin and pop Ottawa’s ballooning bureaucracy.

This column was first published in the Western Standard on July 202, 2024.

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International

‘Really, Really Difficult’: Bureaucrats Worry Behind Closed Doors They’ll Be Sent Packing Under Trump

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From Heartland Daily News

“He’s going to get people in place that are more intelligent and are more loyal to him,” a park service employee said. “Now I think he could do a lot of damage.”

Government workers are reportedly in a state of panic over the prospect of former President Donald Trump winning another term in office, according to E&E News.

Bureaucrats up and down the federal hierarchy are concerned that a second Trump administration could cost them their jobs and put an end to liberal programs they worked to implement under President Joe Biden, E&E News  reported.  Trump has, if elected, pledged to implement reforms that would allow him to fire up to 50,000 civil servants at will, with the former president singling out workers who are incompetent, unnecessary or undermine his democratic mandate.

“The first rendition of the Trump administration was really, really difficult, and we saw a mass exodus of employees retiring,” a National Park Service employee told E&E News. “If we do have an administration shift, other employees will also reconsider their positions and move to the private sector. I don’t know what I’ll end up doing.”

Of the civil servants that didn’t exit during Trump’s first term, many worked internally to deliberately obstruct his agenda, according to Miles Taylor, who served as chief of staff in the Department of Homeland Security from 2017 to 2019 and admitted to engaging in such behavior. Bureaucrats are worried that Trump may seek to appoint administrators who agree with his agenda this time around.

“He’s going to get people in place that are more intelligent and are more loyal to him,” a park service employee said. “Now I think he could do a lot of damage.”

To replace large numbers of federal employees, Trump would reclassify them as Schedule F employees, allowing him to fire them at will. The Biden administration finalized a rule in April that would prevent their status from being changed involuntarily, however, allies of the former president have shrugged off the rule by pointing out that a Trump administration could simply reverse it, according to The New York Times.

Amid fear that Trump’s plans may come to fruition, bureaucrats are making moves to ensure the Biden administration’s policies are as hard to repeal as possible, a senior employee at the Interior Department told E&E News.

“The concern hasn’t been focused on who the Democratic nominee is as much as concerns about Trump winning and what that would mean,” they said. “From everyone’s perspective it is get as much done as possible. Also trying to bury into the agency programs [like environmental justice] so they can survive a Trump administration.”

Conservatives are increasingly optimistic about Trump’s chances of defeating Biden in November as the president lags behind Trump in the polls and the Democratic Party grapples with internal disputes regarding whether or not he should be their nominee.

“The mood is somber and incredulous,” one long-time employee of the Department of the Interior told E&E News. “The hope is we will not suffer through another term with the prior leadership, but the fear [is] that if we do, they will target employees they don’t like, make things up to justify whatever punishment they want and just cripple the good work we are doing.”

Staff at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), meanwhile, are also upset and agitated, the president of a union representing some of the agency’s employees told E&E News. “So many of our members lived through the absolutely disastrous first Trump administration and his attempted dismantling of EPA,” she said.

Originally published by The Daily Caller. Republished with permission.

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