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On June 6, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty introduced a new 2011 Budget. (The March Budget was not adopted before the government was defeated in the House of Commons). The June Budget only contained two new provisions: the elimination of the subsidies for political parties and a $2.2 billion transfer to Quebec in support of tax harmonization. Because the June Budget is essentially the same as the March Budget, we re-offer here our commentary on the March Budget.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said “Leadership is about finding a balance between needs,” but unfortunately he delivered a budget that ignored the needs of Canadians. Budget 2011 revealed that the government’s priorities are vastly different than the priorities of Canadians. While Canadians want and need a response to social and environmental deficits, Budget 2011 offered a jobs-based approach to economic recovery, a few social policy crumbs, and more “boutique taxes.” Budget 2011 was rich in rhetoric and poor in action, proposing tinkering rather than real change.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ottawa, ON: March 23, 2011 - Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) is disappointed that the federal budget did not address the real needs of Canadians, ignoring the social and environmental deficits.“This budget offers tinkering instead of real change,” said Joe Gunn, executive director. “Instead of a poverty elimination strategy, the government is pursuing a jobs-based approach to recovery that just isn’t sufficient.”
Last week CPJ submitted our pre-budget recommendations to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance for Budget 2011. Every year this committee invites Canadians to raise concerns and offer suggestions for the drafting of the next federal budget.
Our recommendations come at a time of economic recovery after the recent recession, when the government is facing challenges concerning how to invest Canadian revenues for the best possible outcome. CPJ recognizes that these decisions are not always easy. But in order to promote the well-being of all Canadians, the budget must be made up of responsible and caring investments.
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Last week, just before the government’s presentation of Budget 2010, the Alternative Federal Budget (AFB), a project coordinated by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), released their Alternative Federal Budget 2010. Employment issues topped their list of priorities. Employment also topped the priority list of Budget 2010. Let’s see how they compare!
The recession has had a tremendous impact on Canadians. Job losses and a faltering safety net have added hundreds of thousands of people to the population of Canadians living in poverty. Economic stimulus and deficit spending are most certainly required to confront this vulnerability. Measures to create and sustain jobs and to build a strong and healthy country are needed. But this cannot be done at the expense of those on the margins, excluded from mainstream society.
Last year as part of Budget 2009, the government adopted a stimulus package to help boost the economy, which included increases to Working and Child tax benefits. However, the package was far from complete, especially concerning the most vulnerable Canadians - those living in poverty, many of whom have incomes too low to qualify for the tax benefits.
On December 9, 2009 the House of Common Standing Committee on Finance tabled its sixth report for 2009 in Parliament, A Prosperous and Sustainable Future for Canada: Needed Federal Actions. Based on approximately six months of committee consultations with a variety of organizations and individuals across Canada, including Citizens for Public Justice, this report aims to inform the government during the drafting of the 2010 budget.
Despite the cautious outlook on government spending voiced by the committee, several of the recommendations in the report call for further spending and adjustments in a variety of areas, including childcare, employment insurance, and affordable housing.