By Jack Mintz, October 18, 2022
In case you missed the news, our indebted federal government is forking out $220 million from its Strategic Innovation Fund to Quebec’s Rio Tinto to increase the production of critical minerals and reduce carbon emissions.
Rio is not the first multi-billion company to be enriched by Canadian taxpayers nor will it be the last. Whether it’s Ontario’s electric vehicle companies, B.C. and Alberta’s film industries or Atlantic Canada’s pulp and paper plants, thousands of companies over the years have received federal and provincial “corporate welfare,” a colourful term highlighted by federal NDP leader David Lewis in his “corporate welfare bums” election campaign of 1972.
Such welfare has taken the form of grants, tax credits, wage subsidies and loan guarantees. With their helping hand, governments are also on the hook to bail out low-productivity companies when markets go sour.