The Canadian Labour Congress says today’s federal budget takes positive steps on a few key issues for working Canadians and their communities.
“We are pleased to see today’s budget invest in several key areas that unions have long championed, including infrastructure, skills training, and child care,” said Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff.
“By investing in skills training and infrastructure, including $11 billion in support of a National Housing Strategy, this budget lays the foundation for the creation of good jobs with a social benefit. It also sets the stage for an ongoing, constructive dialogue between government, unions and employer groups to advance skills training in this country,” Yussuff said.
However, Yussuff noted concerns with the establishment of a new Canada Infrastructure Bank, designed to facilitate private investment in public infrastructure, even though reports consistently show these P3 projects are more costly and offer lower-quality jobs and services.
“Government must ensure public infrastructure is publicly financed and operated. We do not need more of the same private-public partnerships that short-change workers and communities,” Yussuff said.
Child care is another issue that has been a top priority for unions for many years, and Yussuff said he was pleased to see the government commit multi-year funding ($7 billion over 10 years) under a national child care framework. This includes 40,000 new subsidized child-care spaces for low- and modest-income families.
“This is an important step in the process towards quality, accessible child care for all Canadian families. Next, the federal, provincial and territorial governments must work to ensure increased funding that is tied to the principles of the Shared Framework on child care,” Yussuff said.
Unions are pleased to see Budget 2017 commit to measures to strengthen Canada’s trade remedy system, including amendments to ensure that unions have the right to participate as interested parties in trade remedy proceedings. Unions will continue to push to ensure unions can also file complaints to initiate proceedings.
However, the CLC expressed disappointment on other issues that impact Canadian workers. First, Employment Insurance, which will continue to leave too many unemployed Canadians behind due to very strict eligibility requirements and inadequate benefits.
Second, on the issue of health care, the CLC welcomes today’s investments in mental health and home care, but had been hoping to see the government commit to stable and long-term health care funding under a national health accord. Unfortunately, this budget maintains the Harper government’s reduction in the Canada Health Transfer, which ensures continued underfunding of the health care system as a whole.
Finally, unions were disappointed that Budget 2017 did not improve the Working Income Tax Benefit, which means it will continue to remain inaccessible for full time, minimum-wage workers.