Ottawa—The government has announced a series of cuts to social programs – so they can save $2 billion over the next 2 years. “Likely the money from these programs will be designated for some type of tax cut that the Harper Conservatives will announce in the next federal election – probably sometime this spring,” said Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
“When we look at just 2 of these program cuts $5 million from the Status of Women and $5.6 million from the Court Challenges program, a clear message is being sent. The government is essentially saying that any voice given to addressing gender inequality in this country will be further silenced - furthermore any voices wanting to challenge the current status of the laws of this land will be muzzled,” added Moist.
“It was under the court challenges program that CUPE successfully argued for equal rights for same sex partners with regards to employer sponsored pension plans and pension benefits. Without this program spouses in same sex couples would still be denied their spouses pension benefits in case of death,” explained Sandi Howell-Solc, director of CUPE’s equality branch.
This case was a challenge under section 15 of the Charter of a provision of the Income Tax Act. That provision states that a private pension plan cannot be registered with Revenue Canada if it defines “spouse” to include same- sex spouses. The case that went before the courts was brought forward by CUPE, and had as interveners REAL Women of Canada and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. “Clearly cuts made to both the status of women and the court challenges program are ideological in nature and not due to any fiscal consideration,” added Howell- Solc.
“These program cuts may seem small in context of the billions that the government has been shaving off of other public services but their significance is huge,” concluded Moist.
director of CUPE’s equality branch
613-237-1590 ext. 314
CUPE represents over half a million workers across Canada.