The federal government has made a commitment to put in place predictable, long-term and equitable arrangements to restore Canada’s fiscal balance. CUPE’s submission to this consultation argues that:
- The Conservative government appears to be trying to use the fiscal balance issue as an excuse for eliminating the federal government role in a wide range of social areas. Effective governance requires multiple levels of accountability with a national vision and common standards.
- The federal government could demonstrate national leadership on the fiscal balance issue through:
- Renewing the equalization program.
- Committing to long-term funding support for public infrastructure.
- Revitalizing the federal role in education and training.
- Showing leadership on social investments and health care.
- There is a need for greater transparency and accountability in the entire budget process. Program spending is more effective and more accountable than tax measures at meeting specific objectives.
- History has shown that progress is only made when the federal government takes a leadership role in these areas. If the federal government had not taken this leadership role in the past, we would not have national Employment Insurance, Medicare or old age security and pension programs.
- Predictable and long-term federal funding for provinces need to be tied to conditional transfers backed up by legislative conditions and enforceable accountability mechanisms.
- The most competitive and productive countries in the world have achieved their rank with strong social and environmental standards and by making extensive investments in people and social and physical infrastructure: we need an effective social and economic union.
- There is no overall vertical fiscal imbalance between the federal government and provinces, either in constitutional or practical terms.