Once upon a time, a doctor poisoned his patient. Just as the patient was starting to fall ill
the doctor quickly administered an antidote to save him. “You owe your life to me,” the
doctor told him. “If I hadn’t neutralized the poison, you’d be dead.” The patient asked,
“But why did you poison me in the first place?” Replied the doctor: “If I hadn’t, I would not
have had the chance to save your life - and saving lives is my business.”
It’s the same logic we see from governments that do so many things to make people
poor, only to spend billions of dollars to rescue them from poverty. That was the finding
of a new report by the Conservative Official Opposition following a ninemonth crosscountry
House of Commons committee study on “Poverty Reduction Strategies.” The
committee heard from 162 witnesses on why people are poor and what we can do about
it. Liberals and New Democrats each filed their own reports.
Witness testimony revealed a growing list of government actions that impoverish people
and widen the gap between rich and poor.
For example, governments have pushed thousands of people to rely on food banks by
raising electricity and home heating bills to fund subsidies to wealthy so-called “green
energy” investors. The same governments then claim they need new programs to help
people put food on the table.
Municipal and provincial governments impose costly delays and red tape on builders,
which Ken Green from the Fraser Institute says adds $20,000 to $60,500 to the cost of a
housing unit. Those same politicians then lament that people can no longer afford to put
a roof over their heads and so taxpayers need to pay more for affordable housing.
Government-mandated professional associations delay and obstruct foreigntrained
immigrants from getting licences to work in their professions in Canada, forcing qualified
doctors and engineers into lowincome jobs. Then governments say we need new
programs to help low-income immigrants.
Governments impose high social-assistance clawbacks and taxes on poor and disabled
workers, so the harder they work the less money they take home. A Library of Parliament
report released last August showed that minimum-wageearning disabled workers in
some provinces lose as much as $1.15 to taxes and clawbacks for every extra dollar
they earn from work - the equivalent of a negative wage. Worse, if they earn more
income, they also lose their housing and drug benefits. That effectively bans them from
working their way out of poverty. The solution according to politicians? More government
Speaking of welfare, corporate welfare transfers scarce resources from the poor and
middle-class taxpayers to the wealthiest one per cent, such as Bombardier executives,
who got 50-percent pay hikes weeks after Trudeau Liberals offered the company a
$372-million taxpayer-backed handout. After transferring money from the working class
to the super rich, governments then say we need “redistribution” programs to transfer the
money from the rich to the poor.
In all these cases, governments claim to be the solution to the problems they cause.
The new Conservative report calls on the doctor to stop poisoning the patient and
instead follow the ancient principle of medicine: “First, Do No Harm,” the title of the
It proposes that the government end corporate welfare and other programs that transfer
scarce funds to the rich from the rest; remove all capital gains taxes on private company
shares and real estate donated to charity; pass a “Make Work Pay Act” that would
reduce clawbacks and taxes so working always pays more than staying on social
assistance; eliminate carbon taxes that harm poor families; and allow individual
aboriginals on reserves to get mortgages to own their homes just like everyone else, so
they can build collateral and credit history and replace poverty with property.
Conservatives believe in work instead of welfare, and family and community instead of
bureaucracy. Those in poverty work tirelessly to escape it. Their loved ones and charities
never stop finding ways to work miracles to help them. Government should stand on their
side, not in their way.