Budget 2012: Foreign Aid, Missions Abroad, Defence All See CutsMonday, April 02, 2012 > 09:51:57
(Embassy – Carl Meyer et al.)
The federal government’s 2012 budget contains cuts to defence and foreign aid, speedier environmental reviews for big projects, and a shrinking overseas diplomatic footprint, as well as a re-evaluation of Canada’s spot in some international organizations.
The 500-page budget document, the largest Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said his government has created, sees the government emphasize trade and immigration as ways to bolster Canada’s economy in the long term. But it also notes smaller official residences, a smaller vehicle fleet, and extended posting durations for diplomats.
The government is moving to put more under-employed Canadians to work, including immigrants. It’s further tying immigration to the economy to make the system “proactive, targeted, fast and efficient,” according to the budget document. That includes wiping out the backlog for certain applicants to the federal skilled worker program.
In trade, the government wants to keep blazing a path to new markets, including those in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. It’s looking to refresh its Global Commerce Strategy throughout this coming year.
Mr. Flaherty positioned his proposed cuts as less drastic than what some debt-riddled European governments are facing, and what the Liberals did in the 1990s. But there’s no denying there will be some pain. The government plans to cut about 6.9% of $75 billion worth of program spending that it reviewed, including close to $1.5 billion by the end of the 2012-13 fiscal year. That amounts to 1.9% of overall program spending.
Those planned departmental spending cuts would mean about 19,200 jobs are axed, or 4.8% of total federal employment. About 12,000 jobs would go over a three-year period, while the rest of the positions would be eliminated though attrition. Most full-time job cuts would affect workers in the national capital region.
If all goes as planned, Canada would return to a budget surplus in 2015-16. The following is a rundown of how the key budget changes likely to affect diplomacy, trade, defence, foreign aid, immigration, and the environment.