News Canada

Corporate handouts costs taxpayers billions

Mark Dunn. (Andre Forget/QMI Agency)

By Mark Dunn, Senior National Reporter

Chris Roussakis/QMI Agency

Chris Roussakis/QMI Agency

OTTAWA - Successive federal governments have flushed billions of dollars in corporate handouts down the drain, leaving taxpayers paying the tab.

A report Monday by the right-leaning Fraser Institute that looked at Industry Canada handouts and so-called "repayable contributions" - known as loans to normal people - found that $13.7 billion has been doled out since 1982.

The report did not mention the more than $800,000 repayable loan the Conservatives gave to an Ontario company last month to make non-exploding sausages or the $250,000 it coughed up Monday in Nova Scotia to store apples.

It did highlight the $13.7 billion Industry Canada splashed around the country over 30 years -- $6 billion (44.3%) was given away with no expectation of repayment and $7.4 billion (54%) was loaned on the condition it be paid back.

But of the latter, just $2.1 billion has been recovered (28.8%).

Of all the cash picked from the public's pocket, the Fraser Institute said only a paltry $9 million has been collected in interest, said Mark Milke, the report's author.

"In contrast to the interest rates paid on loans obtained by consumers and businesses in the private sector ... little interest has been paid on Industry Canada's taxpayer-financed subsidies to corporate Canada," he said.

The official Opposition New Democrats was aghast at the enormity of the unpaid debt.

"At a time when Canadians are struggling to pay their bills, they don't have the option to ignore the credit-card company or skip a mortgage payment," said Peggy Nash, the party's finance critic "Why are the Conservatives letting corporations get away with this?"

E-mails to Industry Minister Christian Paradis's office were not acknowledged.



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