After Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s hype about investing in infrastructure, the Canadian Union of Public Employees is shocked by the revelation that Budget 2013 actually represents a reduction in the amount of money available for infrastructure over the next two years.
“Budget 2013 has just repackaged existing funds and hoped we didn’t notice, and have cut overall infrastructure spending for municipalities under the Building Canada Fund,” said Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. “This is not the kind of leadership that Canadian municipalities need.”
The budget backend loads the ten year funding announcement so the majority of expenditures occur after the 2015 election. The budget further opens up public infrastructure projects to private for profit corporations by introducing a ‘P3 screen’ for all federally funded projects over $100 million dollars to determine whether or not a project should be developed as a public private partnership.
“Moving forward on a P3 is a decision that should be made by local government. Municipalities deserve options for financing and access to funds without being forced to engage in public private partnerships and privatization of public services,” added Moist.
The federal budget also fails to address Canada’s real economic and social problems of unemployment, poverty and slow economic and income growth. Instead, Flaherty’s budget will make these problems worse, says Moist.
“What we need is a proactive and coordinated national approach to training with support for joint training programs and industry sector councils and without taking funding away from provincial training programs,” added Moist. There are more than five unemployed Canadians for every job vacancy. We need a federal government focused on growing the economy, raising wages and helping working families in difficult economic times.”
Overall the budget fails Canadians. There is a disturbing lack of any measure to help working families make ends meet in tough economic times, like an expanded Canadian Pension Plan, national child care funding, commitments to public health care and rolling back cuts to EI. This budget also continues to let Aboriginal people down. These can all be funded with progressive tax measures including further closing tax loopholes and restoring tax rates on corporations.