Each year CUPE participates with other unions and social organizations in developing an alternative to the federal budget. We look at jobs, services, taxes and debt and make recommendations that are based on an honest analysis of Canadians’ needs and resources – an analysis that puts people ahead of corporate profits.
The Alternative Federal Budget for 1999 recognizes that the budget affects the health of not just our pocketbooks. If the spending and taxing decisions made by governments increase inequality and poverty, degrade our environment, or reduce our access to Medicare or education, then those choices will result in a poorer quality of life and health.
This year’s AFB, called Vital Measures, puts the health of Canadians front and centre by tackling the ills of poverty and unemployment. Faster economic growth, as a result of lower interest rates and increased public investment, will reduce unemployment to 5.6 per cent by 2000 and cut the poverty rate from 20 per cent to 14 per cent within four years. And this is accomplished while maintaining Canada’s sound fiscal health. Under the AFB plan, the budget is balanced over the next two years and the debt-to-GDP ratio continues to fall.
The AFB recognizes the deep crisis in our health care system and opposes the privatization of health care. Our budget proposes:
- an additional public investment in Medicare of $2 billion in 1999 and $4 billion per year over five years;
- the creation of a Community and Home Care Act to provide home care as a publicly-administered service with $2 billion in funding for 1999;
- the phasing in of a National Drug Plan with a cost in 1999 of $500 million.
- UI benefits be restored and improved so that 70 per cent of unemployed Canadians will be covered;
- the Child Benefit by increased and $500 million be invested in child care;
- access to post-secondary education be improved for students from all backgrounds;
- funding be provided for 32,500 social and co-op housing units;
- increased funding for basic public infrastructure, including water and roads;
- the outstanding pay equity debt to federal public servants be paid in full;
- an Equity Participation Foundation be created to fund equality seeking advocacy groups;
- a $1 billion Atmospheric Fund be established to finance climate change projects and to support displaced workers;
- Targeted tax cuts for low and middle income Canadians, ensuring that corporations and the very wealthy pay their fair share.