This column comes from the Canadian Labour Congress. See also Marc's column on the Alternative Federal Budget at www.wrlc.ca/an_alternative_budget_for_canada.
The federal budget does not deliver the economic stimulus Canadians needed to feel better about their future.
“As expected, this is a pre-election budget, with lots of little gifts aimed at fending off critics and buying votes from certain constituencies,” said CLC president Hassan Yussuff. “It does not launch the economic stimulus Canadians need to feel better about their future,” he added.
Yussuff pointed out that the budget does not create the good quality, full-time jobs that Canadians need, especially given that nearly three quarters of all jobs created over the last six years have been precarious – part-time, temporary or self-employed.
“We needed to see more direct investment in expanding municipal, provincial and federal infrastructure, that would have stimulated investment and job creation in the private sector,” said Yussuff.
“We also needed the government to rebuild the federal government and give back the jobs that provided services Canadian rely on. For example, hiring 200 new workers in Veterans Affairs cannot make up for 950 jobs lost and the closure of nine offices that provided in-person services.”
The budget did not reverse decisions that will eliminate 35,000 jobs in the federal government, or on the decision to end door-to-door mail delivery, which is costing another 8,000 jobs.
Yussuff says he is also troubled by what appears to be contempt for federal service collective bargaining.
“The government commits to good faith collective bargaining on sick leave for federal public service workers, but threatens to impose its plan anyway if it doesn’t get its way. Continuing this attack on the public sector is not a good jobs strategy,” he said.
- This budget does not reverse the decision to cut $36 billion from health care transfers, continuing instead to tie any increases to economic growth. That will not allow our health care system to keep up with rising costs and the growing and changing demand.
- This budget doesn’t help ease insecurity around retirement by raising Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits to pull seniors over the poverty line, reversing the decision to raise the Old Age Security eligibility age to 67 from 65, or committing to expand the Canada Pension.
- Increasing the allowable contribution limit for Tax Free Savings Accounts will go disproportionately to the wealthiest Canadians – those earning over $200,000 a year. Changes to the Registered Retirement Income Fund (RIFF) rules only help people with RRSPs but does nothing for the one third of Canadian families relying exclusively on public pensions, or those who haven’t been able to put much into RRSPs. Only one third of Canadians contribute to RRSPs, and the average Canadian uses only about 8 per cent of the available RRSP contribution room.
- The budget does not provide families with the child care they need by implementing a national child care program. We know this would have paid for itself by allowing more parents – especially women, get to work. Instead we have a one-size-fits-all approach that is not a good use of taxpayers’ money, it doesn’t open one child care space and it doesn’t address the high cost of fees.