Here's a summary of the key points you as members should take away from the Conservative government's 2014 budget.
The Conservative government has failed once again to promote a positive vision for Canada by investing in the future.
Harper and Flaherty continue to promote shortsighted policies designed to foster its reelection.
They are not focused on investing in Canada.
Real change that improves the lives of all Canadians is being held back despite our ability to strengthen public services.
The Federal budget is another in a long line of missed opportunities
The Conservative government has failed once again to promote a positive vision for Canada by investing in the future. After several years of eviscerating the public services that Canadians count on, they continue to promote shortsighted policies designed solely to foster its reelection.
The operating budget freeze amounts to at least $1.6 billion in cuts to departments that are already reeling from several years of cutting vital services to Canadians. Program expenses as a proportion of GDP will decline below 13% – this means the government is investing less to meet the needs of a growing economy.
“Canada’s economic situation allows the government to do more to restore the services and programs, such as investing in child care, retirement security and transportation safety,” said Robyn Benson, PSAC National President. “Unfortunately, the government has squandered this opportunity.”
After cutting a number of essential services, the government is now putting forward half measures that do nothing to restore what were once highly successful programs:
After cutting Parks Canada services, reducing access to National Parks, and gutting environmental protections, the government is now proposing to invest a small amount in improving the roads and bridges that bring people to parks.
After closing down search and rescues stations in Kitselano, BC and St John’s Newfoundland, the government is providing a tax credit for search and rescue volunteers. This does nothing to fill the hole created by the closures and save lives.
Veterans Affairs services have been reduced and eliminated by this government, including the recent closure of nine regional VAC offices serving Veterans in need across the country. We now have the lowest ratio of Veterans’ Affairs workers to Veterans ever. The measures in the budget do not repair the gap in services the government has created with the closures.
The government has presided over a worrying decrease in food inspection capacity for several years. The small increase proposed in the budget for more food inspectors does little to fill the gap they themselves have created to the integrity of our food safety system.
Instead of improving access to EI benefits to unemployed, the government has focused on small boutique improvements that will have little measurable impact on the livelihoods of Canadians with precarious employment.
In addition to these small, cosmetic changes to public services, the government is going to make the lives of retired public service workers harder by doubling the premiums they will have to pay to access supplemental health benefits.
“PSAC will be entering into the next round of bargaining with the intention of strengthening the public service,” said Chris Aylward, National Executive Vice President of PSAC. “While the government continues to fail Canadians, we will be focused on defending quality public services and the workers who provide them.”