Alternative Federal Budget 2008: A Budget Canadians Can Count On
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Budget In Brief (PDF)
Selected responses to federal budget
Small budget misses big picture
OTTAWA – The minority Conservative government has let Canadians down with a budget short on the vision and leadership needed to address the most pressing issues of our time, says the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).
The federal budget does little to address poverty, climate change and provide long-term help for Canada’s struggling communities – despite urgent need.
“Big problems require big solutions, and they’re nowhere to be found in this budget,” says CCPA Senior Economist Marc Lee. “The funding announced today may fulfill its roll as a PR strategy but it doesn’t come close to the kind of investment that our cities need to stay vibrant and competitive.” …
“This budget does nothing substantive on poverty reduction or measures for First Nations, nor does it minimize the economic insecurity facing Canadian families,” Yalnizyan says. “This is a budget for the rich – not the rest of us.”
“This government has cut and run on ordinary working families. The Conservatives are claiming poverty yet somehow they’ve found money to hand out to Canada’s most affluent in the form of Tax Free Savings Accounts,” says Lee. “They’ve blown an opportunity to make real investments that position Canada for the future.”
Budget meets lower than low expectations
OTTAWA — “The Federal government set expectations low going into the budget, and they met lower than low expectations, said Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
Minister Flaherty did not address health care, child care, poverty or homelessness, and there are no long-term solutions for the municipal infrastructure deficit…
The budget introduced a new tax shelter in the form of a tax-free savings account. “What good is a tax-free savings account if you have no prospect of having savings? Few Canadians are even able to contribute to RRSPs let alone have any other savings. Essentially the Harper government maintains that wages must be taxed – but investment income is tax-free,” said Moist….
“Canadians want increased funding for public services: including health care, child care, a robust infrastructure fund that is not tied to privatization efforts, and a real commitment to tackle the pressing problems of climate change….
Federal budget: surplus of rhetoric, deficit of real solutions
‘It fails the test of real action and fails to deal with real problems.’
What Finance Minister Jim Flaherty calls a budget of “focus, prudence, and discipline” is actually “feeble, paltry and disappointing,” says Larry Brown, secretary-treasurer of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). …“But when it comes to the key challenges facing working and middle class families, the only thing today’s budget delivers is a surplus of rhetoric, and a major deficit when it comes to real action. The budget has a few small measures aimed at placating Canadians, but there will be no real relief for those that are hurting, and no real solutions to the problems facing our economy…. He pointed out that the budget offers little or nothing to address the serious concerns of Canadians, such as reducing health care wait times, confronting climate change, improving long-term care for the elderly, creating affordable child care spaces, dealing with the crisis in the manufacturing sector, reducing college and university tuition fees, strengthening pension security and expanding social services. The budget also ignores the large and growing income gap in Canada….
The BCGEU says that in today’s federal budget, the Harper government has “squandered” another chance to make a major investment in a national child care system to meet the urgent needs of Canadian families.
“With such a massive $13 billion surplus, the Conservative government had the financial tools to make child care a priority,” says BCGEU president George Heyman. “They could have done a lot to alleviate the severe shortage of spaces across the country.
“But with the choices they’ve made in this budget,” charges Heyman “the Harper government has squandered the opportunity to make a sound investment in child care and provide much needed assistance for tens of thousands of Canadian families.
“They’ve set their priorities: tax breaks for big corporations and $10 billion of debt reduction are more important than the needs of children and families.”
The federal budget does nothing more than preserve the status quo, says Heyman, which is to maintain the current taxable $100 per month child benefit payments to parents.
Soon after they were elected in 2006, the Harper government cancelled a federal-provincial agreement that would have created and funded a national child care program. Billions in child care funding was replaced by the $100 a month benefit.
“These piddling payments do nothing to create spaces or give parents choice,” Heyman says. “The Conservatives-who seem to oppose child care in principle-have done nothing to address long waitlists, parent fees that are too high, nor the alarming shortage of qualified child care workers.”
The BCGEU and other child care advocates have been calling for the federal government to fund a quality, accessible, universal, non-profit child care system. Even business groups recognize the benefit of creating a national child care system, Heyman says.
Heyman points to the positive economic spin off benefits in Quebec, where a provincial child care system costs parent $7 a day. Greater access to affordable spaces has allowed women to return to the work force to help alleviate a shortage of skilled workers, creating the highest participation rate of women in trades anywhere in Canada.