Budget 2023: Progress for workers but only scratches the surface of pressing crises

March 28, 2023

Bruske: Workers will benefit from good, sustainable jobs but budget falls short on affordability and care

OTTAWA – While today’s federal budget includes measures to create good, sustainable jobs and ease financial pressures for some, more action is needed to extend a helping hand to hard-pressed families.

“Canada’s unions applaud the government’s investment in sustainable jobs and training, which will benefit workers as our economy shifts to address the climate crisis,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “The government’s move to attach strings to tax credits to ensure that investments in clean energy create good jobs is positive. We will continue pressing for unionized, low‑carbon jobs across all sectors of our economy to ensure workers aren’t left behind.”

Budget 2023 fulfills a significant commitment made in the agreement between the New Democrats and the Liberal government by expanding dental care, benefiting approximately nine million Canadians. However, we were alarmed to see three percent cuts to public sector funding, which could have a significant impact on workers and the services that people rely on.

As well, today’s budget only scratches the surface of Canada’s care crisis. Provincial health funding does not go far enough without accountability to ensure health care is publicly delivered.

“American-style, for-profit clinics drain resources from public systems, costing more and driving up wait times, with dire consequences,” said Bruske. “Our health care system is being slammed by extreme staffing shortages. We need a fully funded workforce plan to retain care workers and recruit staff where they are needed, and direct investments to bolster public health care.”

The government missed an opportunity to overhaul our failing Employment Insurance (EI) system and invest in prescription drug coverage for all Canadians. “The affordability crisis means public programs like universal pharmacare and EI are more critical than ever. It is disappointing that the federal government continues to resist calls to implement a full pharmacare program and fix our inadequate EI system,” she added.

Canada’s unions are also calling for the government to tackle rampant corporate greed.

“The proposed grocery rebate will provide some relief, but it fails to tackle the root of the problem: corporations putting profits before people. While we welcome the introduction of a new 2% tax on share buybacks and a corporate beneficial ownership registry it doesn’t go far enough. Workers are tired of watching their budgets get stretched further while big business rakes in blockbuster profits,” said Bruske.

Canada’s unions will continue to press for the government to make corporations and Canada’s wealthiest pay their fair share, for investments that put money back in workers’ wallets and tackle soaring shelter costs, and concrete action to address the staffing crisis in our care systems.

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