NDP Reality Check: Who is left behind by Budget 2017?
March 24th, 2017 - 3:39pm
Many Canadians struggling with part-time and precarious employment, rising costs, and record household debt were hoping that this budget would invest in building a fairer economy that lifts everyone up, not just the wealthy and well-connected.
Unfortunately, the Liberal budget contains nothing on a number of key areas, and backloads the funding for so many others, delaying spending until AFTER the next election. This will leave Canadians waiting a long time to see even the things they were promised by this budget – if ever.
Despite unanimously voting to pass an NDP motion on child welfare that called for an immediate injection of $155 million to ensure the Government complies with a ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that the federal government discriminates against indigenous children, the Liberals have not allocated the money needed to end this shameful situation.
There are currently close to 1.3 million Canadians who are out of work, but 6 in 10 unemployed Canadians can’t access Employment Insurance benefits to help them get by. The government made no investment to improve access to EI benefits for those who need them most.
Child care costs have risen by more than 8% in the past two years and can reach as high as $1,600 a month per child in some cities. But in spite of the urgent needs, the budget doesn’t give a dime for new childcare spaces this year and future amounts are totally inadequate to meet the needs of parents. In fact, the fifth year of the Liberal childcare plan provides less money than the first year of the NDP plan they attacked during the campaign as being too slow.
In spite of this government’s November 2016 promise that they would invest $350 million to help dairy producers weather the impacts of Canada's trade agreement with the European Union, there is nothing in this budget to keep this promise.
The government has again failed to deliver on their most critical promise during the election to Veterans - lifelong financial security for those who have served and are ill and injured. Instead the Liberals are offering unclear commitments and no timeline. Those who have served to protect Canadians and our values deserve much better.
After more than a decade of inaction in the fight against climate change, the Liberals promised Canadians they would take this matter seriously. But the budget reveals that they are actually cutting $1.25 billion over the next two years from funds previously promised to fuel the transition to a Low Carbon Economy. Future generations can’t afford further delays for climate action.
People living with disabilities
After ignoring the needs of people living with disabilities in changes introduced last year to the Canada Pension Plan, it is disappointing to see the Liberals have once again ignored calls to make the disability tax credit refundable to ensure it provides the support needed by low-income individuals.
Public Transit Users
After campaigning on the need for urgent investments in infrastructure, Budget 2017 reduces planned funding for public transit for the second time – cutting $836 million over the next five years. By 2022, their current plans will provide $4.1 billion less for public transit than they committed to in their platform. The Budget also cancels the Public Transit Tax Credit.
Last year’s budget announced that the Liberals were breaking their promise by cancelling planned small business tax reductions they had campaigned on. But while they claimed they were merely pausing the tax cuts, there is no sign of them in Budget 2017. There is also nothing to reduce unfair credit card merchant fees which gauge small businesses and raise costs for consumers.
People looking for affordable housing
While the Parliamentary Secretary for Housing promised $20 billion for housing over ten years during the election campaign, the budget reveals they only plan to spend $8.3 billion over the same period – less than half of what was promised. The Budget also fails to dedicate specific long-term funding for social housing.
Canada is the only country in the world with a universal healthcare system that doesn’t include universal prescription drug coverage. Canadians pay the second highest drug prices in the world, and CETA will increase costs further, but Budget 2017 fails to take any step towards a national pharmacare program and enshrines Stephen Harper’s plans for core health funding.
Canada faces an aging population with growing needs for health and seniors care, but in spite of calls from the Canadian Medical Association, the Budget does not commit to a much needed national seniors strategy.
The Liberals are seeking to claim major credit for presenting a gender based analysis in this year’s federal budget – something Canada committed to 22 years ago. And while a statement on some of the gendered impacts of measures is a step in the right direction, the budget fails to deliver on concrete change for women – with no sign of pay equity.
While the budget included a small one-time investment in small craft harbours, there was no funding to support coastal fisheries or reverse cuts to fisheries science made by the previous government. There was also no money to protect and revitalize wild salmon and nothing to implement the recommendations of the Cohen Commission on west coast salmon.
Public Service workers
There are still thousands of public service workers suffering from ongoing problems with the disastrous Phoenix pay system which have already dragged on for close to a year. But while people have lost their homes, been forced to drop out of school and even declare bankruptcy, Budget 2017 made no investment to fix the problems.