While anticipation was high, hopes dropped low upon the release of the federal government’s budget. Labour’s long sought demands were met in part, such as the expansion of dental care, which will directly benefit approximately nine million Canadians. But, the budget missed the mark in addressing daily hardships of working Canadians, as well as, the need to invest in critical services like, pharmacare, long-term care, mental health care, child care, and improvements to EI.
The time bomb of climate crisis is ticking, and the budget clearly signals that climate change is top priority. “As our economy sets on a path of transition, the IAMAW will be watching closely to ensure that green technologies don’t result in major job displacements and obsolescence of our members. Some of our members work in sectors that will undergo a change in the near future, so we are fully committed to working closely with the federal government to advise on a just transition, particularly in the area of re-training an upskilling.” noted David Chartrand, Canadian General Vice-President.
David Chartrand continued on to say, “As our economy undergoes a significant shift, social services, particularly, EI need to be equipped to manage pressures of millions of workers who will rely on the program in some capacity. The pandemic showed just how fragile EI is, and the dire need to reform it.”
Another social service that seems to have gone unnoticed is healthcare, given lack of restrictions around the introduction of for-profit care. The IAMAW is alarmed that the healthcare system is teetering on the brink of collapse and there are few supports in the budget, and nothing at all to prevent the introduction of a two-tier privatized system.
“We have to remind ourselves even though the budget didn’t produce all we wanted, the gains achieved were only made possible by the demands the NDP and labour put on the minority Liberal government,” said Derek Ferguson, Grand Lodge Representative for Political Action.
Adding insult to injury, is the government’s lack of action on addressing the impact of inflation on working Canadians. Workers continue to be forced to pay for an inflation crisis they did not create while their wages lag behind. Addressing the root of inflation requires fair taxation, and cracking down on corporations using their market power to jack up prices and engage in profiteering. When corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share, governments have funds to invest in public social programs that working Canadians are increasingly relying on.
Bottom line? The federal government showed a few good gestures towards working people but all it amounts to is lip service. Solutions that address root problems and result in tangible changes are still low on the list of priorities.