The federal budget must respond to the urgent needs of people and communities in the wake of COVID-19. The pandemic exposed countless systemic flaws in our society, and CUPE believes the federal government must use Budget 2022 to fix the flawed policies and programs that have been failing our communities for too long.
“Inequality fuels suffering, but it also fuels polarization and cynicism in our society,” said CUPE National President Mark Hancock. “Then the pandemic came along and made everything harder for working people and their families. After two years of tremendous hardship under COVID-19, working people deserve a budget that works for them.”
The recent agreement between the New Democrats and the governing Liberals represents a welcome opportunity for positive change, and CUPE acknowledges the role of Jagmeet Singh and the NDP in shifting the focus from politics to people, at least on the federal scene.
CUPE expects Budget 2022 to reflect the commitments the Liberals made in that agreement with significant investments in public services.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, the budget is an opportunity for government to show Canadians that it has our back,” said CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Candace Rennick. “The budget must reject all forms of austerity and make significant investments in core public services that lift up families and communities.”
Budget 2022 must combat the ongoing underfunding of health care. CUPE is calling on the federal government to raise the Canada Health Transfer significantly, with stronger national standards to fight privatization and for-profit care, and invest in a solution to the staffing crisis in the sector. We are also calling for a minimum of $3.5 billion to get national pharmacare off the ground, and $8.5 billion to deliver quality long-term care for those who need it.
On child care, the budget must deliver the funding needed to create the new, not-for-profit child care spaces that families are depending on right now. The government must also establish a comprehensive workforce strategy to ensure there are enough workers to meet the needs of communities, and that these workers are paid fairly for their essential work.
CUPE is renewing its call for the federal government to scrap the Canada Infrastructure Bank’s privatization mandate, and instead provide direct, low-interest loans to help cities and towns with their urgent infrastructure needs. We are also calling for the temporary $2.2 billion top-up to the Canada Community Building Fund to be made permanent.
To resource the fight against inequality, the federal government should eliminate regressive tax loopholes for the wealthiest individuals, and reverse generations of lavish corporate tax cuts that have left governments unable to pay for the basic necessities that everyday people need. CUPE has identified $50 billion in annual revenues that the federal government is currently leaving on the table that could be used to everyone’s benefit.
CUPE is also calling for Budget 2022 to take action on issues like pensions and retirement security, public transportation, social services, and arts, culture and libraries. You can read our full, detailed Budget 2022 submission here.