Canada’s largest union is encouraged that the 2016 Federal Budget repairs some of the most severe damage caused by a decade of Conservative rule, but says there is still no clear plan from the Trudeau Liberal government to strengthen the economy and help working people in Canada.
“The past decade has been extremely hard on Canadian workers. Thankfully, some of the more regressive and mean spirited measures from the past federal government are being reversed,” said Mark Hancock, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. “But Canadian workers need more. We need a plan to start creating good jobs and improving public services like child care, health care and public pensions. We need more than just promises to stop the bleeding.”
CUPE is welcoming improvements to Employment Insurance, new measures to finally start combating climate change, increased investments in infrastructure, and new funding to improve First Nations education and drinking water systems. But other areas of vital importance to working people are being ignored.
“This budget makes no real commitment to strengthening our public health care system, and is silent on how the Liberal government plans to create more affordable and accessible public child care,” said Hancock.
While returning the age of eligibility for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement back to 65 will help keep hundreds of thousands of seniors out of poverty, Hancock said the budget is vague on larger improvements needed for retirement security.
“Canadians need more than vague commitments from the Finance Minister to enhance the CPP. The 11 million Canadians without a workplace pension need to know the CPP will be universally expanded, and soon,” said Hancock.
While there is more help being offered to municipal governments to fix crumbling public infrastructure, CUPE is concerned the Liberals will still lean heavily on privatizing public infrastructure and services through risky public private partnerships, or P3s.
“The Liberal government isn’t forcing municipal governments into privatizing, like the Conservatives did, but they are still stacking the deck in favour of P3s,” said Charles Fleury, national secretary-treasurer of CUPE. “There are no assurances in this budget that the billions in funding promised will go into truly public infrastructure and services, and not into P3 profits.”