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A submission by the Canadian Union of Public Employees to the federal consultation on the fiscal balance argues that Canada has only had national progress on social issues when the federal government has played a leadership role in collaboration with the provinces.

CUPE’s submission is entitled “Standing up for Canadians: Restoring Fiscal Balance in Canada,” It concludes that the federal Conservative government should not use the fiscal balance issue as an excuse to eliminate federal government support and leadership for social programs.

If the federal government had not played a leadership role in the past, Canadians would not have national Employment Insurance, Medicare, or Old Age Security and Pension programs,” said CUPE National President Paul Moist. To strengthen and modernize our country, the federal government needs to take a leadership role again on social programs.

Predictable and long-term federal funding for provinces needs to be tied to conditional transfers backed up by legislative conditions and enforceable accountability mechanisms.

What everyone has seen,” explained Moist, “are more and more responsibilities downloaded to municipalities, but without a corresponding transfer of funding to municipalities to cover the cost for these added responsibilities. Municipalities have been left with no option but to raise property taxes. So, it is the middle class and poor that gets hit with the bill for responsibilities that really should reside with these other governments. It’s a terribly regressive and destructive fiscal policy that has roots at the federal level of government.”

If there is a fiscal imbalance in this country, it isn’t a vertical fiscal imbalance between the federal and provincial governments. It’s between those levels of government and municipalities across this country. There is also a large fiscal imbalance between provinces that threatens our ability to provide comparable public services to all Canadians,” concluded Moist.

Standing up for Canadians: Restoring Fiscal Balance in Canada” will be submitted by CUPE to online consultations on the Fiscal Balance by the Departments of Finance and Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC).

CUPE is the largest union in Canada with more than 500,000 members.

To download online copies of the report, go to: http://www.cupe.ca/economics/fiscalbalance

For more information:

Paul Moist, CUPE National President, 613-558-2873

Toby Sanger, CUPE economist, 613-720-6955