The Harper government delivered a dud of a 2014 federal budget that did little for jobs, public services and economic growth. Did it have to be that way? Nope.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Alternative Federal Budget, which is developed by labour, environmental and civil society organizations including CUPE, offers a glimpse of what the federal budget could deliver if it were guided by a concern for people instead of corporate profits.

Here are some highlights from the 2014 Alternative Federal Budget. We could:

  • Develop affordable and public early childhood education and childcare across Canada.
  • Increase federal funding for community infrastructure by $2.6 billion annually.
  • Reduce defence spending to 2001 levels.
  • Reverse recent cuts to Employment Insurance and move towards a uniform national eligibility requirement of 360 hours worked.
  • Eliminate oil and gas subsidies, invest in parks and the environment, assist households to reduce their energy costs, and invest in renewable energy.
  • Introduce a progressive carbon tax in collaboration with provinces.
  • Increase support for First Nations housing, education, health, skills training and water treatment by more than $3 billion annually.
  • Introduce a national drug plan to provide necessary medication affordably to those who need it.
  • Provide an additional $2 billion for affordable housing.
  • Reduce the cost of post-secondary education tuition to pre-1992 levels.
  • Double CPP benefits, improve the Guaranteed Income Supplement and restore the age of eligibility for OAS and GIS to 65.
  • Bring fairness to the tax system by:

o   Restoring federal corporate tax rates to 2007 rates

o   Bringing in a new tax bracket for incomes over $250,000

o   Eliminating loopholes

o   Clamping down on tax havens

o   Introducing a financial transaction tax and inheritance tax on estates over $5 million

The CCPA’s analysis shows these actions would help bring 855,000 Canadians out of poverty, create 260,000 jobs per year, and bring the unemployment rate down to 5.4 per cent in two years. They would also markedly improve the lives of Canadians by expanding public and social services.

All it takes is the political will – and public pressure.

Check out the CCPA’s alternative budget.