Jim Flaherty's action plan earns rebuke before it's even tabled

Tease the day: Another year, another Economic Action Plan to lament

Adrian Wyld/CP

All of a sudden, it’s budget season in Ottawa all over again. Yesterday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced he’d table Budget 2013—or, rather, Economic Action Plan 2013—on March 21. Before Flaherty had even caught his breath, Terence Corcoran was busy being unimpressed. This morning, Corcoran was the early-bird critic of the Conservatives’ next budget, writing in the National Post that Conservative budgets used to be conservative budgets. And they used to be about budgeting, not growth. “Budgets, after all, are not the fuel of growth,” writes Corcoran. “They are the government’s plans to take money out of the economy via taxes and spend it on a million different things.” He’s, um, not so much a fan of government intervention.

In the Ottawa Citizen, we learn about one of those million different things: an overhaul of public servants’ sick leave and disability insurance. The Citizen‘s Kathryn May writes that on any given day, 19,000 public servants are off work for one reason or another—and the average number of days away per yer, per employee, is 12.5. The feds want to get people back to work more quickly, and will do so in what May reports is a “disability management initiative.” No dollar figures are so far available, but expect to hear more about that in Flaherty’s Economic Action Plan 2013.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with leading U.S. Democrat Nancy Pelosi’s skepticism of the Keystone XL pipeline‘s benefits. The National Post fronts SNC-Lavalin’s many shady donations to both major Quebec political parties. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with allegations that the Peel Children’s Aid Society kept files open to maintain its funding. The Ottawa Citizen leads with federal plans to overhaul public servants’ sick leave and disability insurance. iPolitics fronts a Michael Harris column postulating that Idle No More hasn’t disappeared, and aboriginal affairs will return to the spotlight. leads with the apparent discovery of the Higgs boson particle. National Newswatch showcases a CBC News story about a think tank’s recommended changes to robocall rules.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. UN ranking. Canada is no longer ranked in the Top 10 countries on the UN’s human development index, a report that also suggests the rise of emerging economies that previously struggled with inequality. 2. Student loans. The feds are planning to write off over $170 million worth of student debt this year because, according to federal law, it can’t collect unpaid loans after six years of non-communication with debtors.
3. NDP debt. A number of NDP leadership candidates still owe thousands of dollars from their campaigns to lead the party. Peggy Nash, Niki Ashton, Brian Topp and Martin Singh are still fundraising.
4. Quebec education. The Parti Quebecois government hopes a new program to educate underprivileged youth before kindergarten will help alleviate the province’s dropout rate.

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