Bolder action needed to make life more affordable and tackle corporate greed

April 16, 2024

While Canada’s unions welcome tax fairness measures, investments in housing and the new National School Food Program, Budget 2024 lacks the ambition needed to deliver results for working people. Workers are being squeezed by a cost-of-living crisis and bolder investments are required to provide relief and counteract out-of-control corporate greed.

“We appreciate moves to increase taxes on the wealthiest Canadians and profitable corporations, and investments in housing and school meals will help families in need. However, the sky-high price of groceries and essentials continue to stretch household budgets, and much more ambitious action is needed to make life affordable,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “Amidst rising unemployment, the government’s failure to fix our broken Employment Insurance system, its inability to respond to health workers’ low pay and overwork, inaction to invest in a full universal pharmacare system, and the lack of support for migrant workers are disappointing.”

The School Food Program will feed 400,000 more students every year, including many from racialized, Indigenous, and low-income families. Budget 2024 also reflects progress made through the federal government’s agreement with Canada’s New Democrats, including investments in housing affordability.

However, more action is necessary to tackle the housing crisis. The government must get back to building public housing, address the financialization of housing, and take action to make renting more affordable.

We are concerned by plans to incentivize pension investments that could lead to privatization. Every worker deserves financial security in retirement; the government must strengthen public pensions and do more to ensure every worker has access to a decent workplace pension – pensions should not be used to expand privatization.

Furthermore, the proposed cuts to public sector jobs are alarming. Canada’s unions will fight to ensure these cuts do not impact workers or the services that Canadians rely on. “Public spending must prioritize the workers and families who drive our economy,” emphasized Bruske. “That means investing in public services and investing in people.”

Investments in the Canada Disability Benefit are a good first step; however much greater levels of support are required to support people with disabilities across Canada.

While we welcome funding for childcare spaces and plans for a sectoral table on the care economy, the lack of investment to address the health crisis is concerning. Bruske added, “Decades of cuts, the health workforce crisis, and creeping privatization mean our care system—and the workers holding it together—are stretched to the limits. We need investments to ensure our loved ones can access the care they need.”

“Budget 2024 provided improvements to our tax system by increasing the capital gains tax, but greater ambition is needed on tax fairness to not leave revenue on the table,” said Bruske. “With figures like Pierre Poilievre siding with bosses and promoting false solutions, it’s crucial for the government to step up. We need bolder action to tackle corporate greed and fund support for struggling families.”

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