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Canadian unions and social organizations have proposed a budget blueprint for creating jobs, strengthening Medicare and reducing the growing gap between rich and poor.

Developed with input from CUPE and others, this year’s Alternative Federal Budget was released in Ottawa yesterday. Called Vital Measures, the AFB puts the health of Canadians front and centre by tackling the ills of poverty and unemployment.

”We’re demonstrated that Paul Martin could significantly increase funding to health care while restoring UI and reduce taxes to lower-income earners,” said National President Judy Darcy. “As well, our budget includes greater funding for education, housing, child care, the environment 007400680065 services that are essential to the health and the future of our country.”

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.

As well, Vital Measures recommends:

  • 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.

For more information on the Alternative Federal Budget, contact the Ottawa office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives at (613) 563-1341, Choices, a Coalition for Social Justice in Winnipeg at (204) 944-9408 or Solidarité populaire in Montreal at (514) 598-2000.

The full text of the AFB can be found on the CCPA web site.

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