On March 21 at 4:00, the federal government will release its annual budget. Here is what CUPE would like to see in the budget.
In Budget 2013 the federal government should maintain and expand public services and launch a major public infrastructure program that would create jobs immediately. Furthermore, we need investment in programs that help working families make ends meet, like an expanded Canadian Pension Plan, national child care funding, commitments to public health care and rolling back cuts to EI.
In light of Canada’s current economic situation it is critical that this budget does not take action that will further erode workers’ wages and public services. Now is not the time for more austerity cuts to government spending. In Budget 2013, Canada needs strategic investment that stimulates, strengthens and diversifies the economy and supports workers that have been hit hard by recession.
A set of progressive economic measures will not only strengthen the recovery in the short term, but also create the basis for enhanced economic growth and productivity over the longer term that everyone can share in.
CUPE’s top priorities:
Generate good jobs and stronger sustainable economic growth: The federal government’s spending cuts are not only eliminating important public services and deteriorating health, safety and environmental standards for Canadians, they are also increasing unemployment and weakening our economic growth. Public sector austerity, privatization, free trade and corporate tax cuts haven’t worked. Relying almost entirely on exploitation and export of barely processed natural resources for economic growth is short-sighted, risky and environmentally damaging. Instead we need economic policies to diversify our economy and generate sustainable economic growth and quality jobs for Canadians, including an industrial development strategy, labour force and training initiatives, increased public investment, enhanced public services and proactive environmental standards.
Infrastructure: Canada’s communities continue to struggle with inadequate funding to improve public services, including water and transportation infrastructure. The federal government needs to commit significant increased funding for a long term, predictable and flexible public infrastructure spending that is not tied to ideology driven public private partnerships. Investment in infrastructure will not only help address Canada’s over $125 billion infrastructure deficit, but also stimulate the economy and create jobs. Municipalities need options for financing and access to funds without being forced to engage in public private partnerships and privatization of public services.
Pensions: Retirement insecurity is a growing national crisis. Over 11 million Canadian workers are without a workplace pension plan. A gradual and modest expansion of the Canada Pension Plan is the best way to ensure retirement security for each and every Canadian and the federal government should reverse its decision to increase the retirement age to 67 for Old Age Security and GIS.
Employment Insurance: The recent changes to EI are not only hurting people, but also impacting employers that rely on skilled seasonal employees. CUPE is calling the federal government to scrap the changes they brought in with last year’s omnibus budget.
Health care: Provinces and territories need stable and adequate funding from the federal government to protect public health care. Canadians want national standards and equal access to health care no matter their income or region. To get us there, the federal government must sit down with the provinces and territories and negotiate a new 10-year agreement with at least 6 per cent annual increases in the Canada Health Transfer.
Fair taxation: The funding required for these and other programs can ultimately be generated by restoring corporate and high income tax rates, eliminating inefficient and regressive tax loopholes and expenditures (including for stock options and capital gains), reducing fossil fuel subsidies, and introducing green taxes and fairer taxes on finance.
Aboriginal Issues: Canada traditionally has not met its obligations to First Nations People to provide safe drinking water, safe housing, and high-quality education. Currently, disease and poverty are the only things increasing at an alarming rate on Attawapiskat and other First Nations lands. We urge the federal government to commit funds in this budget to address this historic and systemic injustice. In addition create national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada, and restore funding to organizations like Sisters in Spirit.