Today was an opportunity for Finance Minister Bill Morneau to make a real difference in the lives of Canadians, but the Liberals’ fall economic update misses the mark, according to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
“The boost to the Canada Child Benefit will help families with children, but it still does not move us any closer to a national child care program,” said CUPE National President Mark Hancock. “The government is essentially giving us band-aids and buzzwords, and we have yet to see any of the broad policy changes that were promised in the federal election two years ago.”
With the improved fiscal situation, the federal government should have committed additional funding to establish a national child care program, as they promised in the election and as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have also urged. “We’ve known for years that an affordable, universal child care program would mark significant progress for Canadian families, and particularly working women, and create thousands of new jobs across the country,” Hancock added.
The Fall Economic Statement announces that the federal government will start indexing the Canada Child Benefit starting in July 2018, two years earlier than originally planned, and will increase the Working Income Tax Benefit by an additional $500 million annually, with details to be announced in the 2018 Budget. The deficit for 2017-18 is now expected to be $19.9 billion, down from the $28.5 billion projected in the 2017 Budget.
The government also promised action on a national pharmacare program during the last election, but we’ve yet to see action on that front.
CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury said the improvements to the Canada Child Benefit are positive, but the government has to do more, and could have done more. “The economy is performing well, but most Canadians aren’t seeing the benefits,” said Fleury. “Average wages have only increased by 1.6% so far this year, barely keeping up with inflation. We need to see more fundamental changes to increase wages, public services and strengthen different sectors of the economy.”