Liberals’ Stephen Harper budget is missed opportunity

OTTAWA — It’s a federal budget for the well-off Canadians, CUPE National President Paul Moist said today, and a missed opportunity for the Martin government.

“Conservative leader Stephen Harper must be drooling over the first minority Liberal budget,” Moist said. “It is a financial windfall for corporations and wealthy Canadians and a wait-for-tomorrow budget for almost everyone else.”

Real solutions to Canada’s problems mean adequate funding with strings attached. “Their chequebook federalism will weaken our communities, boost privatization and create a patchwork nation of unequal services,” Moist said.

The budget eliminates the corporate surtax and reduces corporate income tax to 19 per cent from 21 per cent. It also cuts income tax, again benefiting high-income Canadians most. Total tax cuts equal more than $13 billion over three years.

On child care, Moist said the government needs to invest more money faster to launch the provinces and territories on the road to a truly cross-Canada system.

“The first few years of funding don’t move this program forward at the speed Canada’s kids and parents need,” he said. “It’s time to shift gears from promise to action.”

Moist also called for true accountability for child care delivery: reporting to Parliament on how federal money is spent. CUPE will keep pressing for measures that ensure accountability, including a dedicated transfer for child care, legislation and a commitment to fund only non-profit delivery.

Big city mayors will be fuming, as is CUPE, over the backloading of the “New Deal for Cities” money. The Liberals promised $5 billion over five years, but deliver only $600 million in each of the next two years. There is also nothing to stop privatization.

“Once again, we see a Liberal government making plenty of promises but not providing adequate, strings-attached funding to make the programs work for Canadians who need them,” Moist said.