Elect Team Unite at 2021 CLC Convention

Let’s Build The Future

Team Unite

The Federal budget announced by Minister Freeland Monday provides some important gains for workers in Canada. It also has a way to go to address growing economic inequality. On the plus side, there is a real commitment to childcare, earmarking $30 billion over 5 years to finally get non-profit childcare to Canadian families. We know that providing childcare at a rate of $10 per child will drive participation in the workforce for parents and that in turn provides a huge economic benefit. This excellent news piece will require that the provincial governments get on board, which means that we need to continue to push for action on this issue across the country.

Pharmacare has again been left off the table with no investment to make a national pharmacare plan a reality. This is a lost opportunity to provide prescription drugs to the 7.5 million Canadians who do not have employer-provided prescription drug insurance coverage to meet their needs. We know that investment into a national pharmacare program must include a national essential medicines formulary, which will reduce the amount of prescription drug spending by 5 billion annually. During this pandemic is when this benefit is most helpful to workers who have lost or are at risk of losing their employer provided prescription drug coverage because of loss of employment.

This government has missed the mark in not announcing paid sick leave to federal workers and a pathway to working with the provinces to provide paid sick time. We know that workers are at risk when they must make a choice between going to work and not paying their bills. Those choices have consequences for our communities.

We are happy to see the extension of the Employment Insurance emergency benefits to September. The reduction to the new universal eligibility threshold to 420 hours for the next year will support workers who have precarious employment. We do, however, need a fuller review of our EI system to address the current EI wage replacement rates, workers who make the decision to leave employment among other issues. We expect that these issues will be addressed in the announced review.

Tax reform is also still lacking. While the implementation of a luxury tax on high end cars and boats sounds promising, it does not address the growing income inequality in Canada. To address that, we need meaningful tax reform. The implementation of a wealth tax targeting extreme wealth, reversing cuts made to corporate income tax rates and cracking down on tax avoidance by corporations is necessary to ensure a more equitable income tax system.

While there are many layers to this budget, we must keep our eye on how these announced changes impact workers first. This budget is a step in the right direction, but it does not go far enough to address workers priorities.