The federal government’s role as backstop during the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t end with the first wave of reopening—Canada needs to step up with more investments to ensure a just, equitable and sustainable recovery, says the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) in the 25th year of its Alternative Federal Budget project.
Among the key issues in the Alternative Federal Budget (AFB) Recovery Plan requiring immediate action: implement universal public child care so people can get back to work, reform employment insurance, strengthen safeguards for public health, decarbonize the economy, and tackle the gender, racial, and income inequality that COVID-19 has further exposed.
AFB proposals specific to community economic development (CED) include:
- the complete decarbonization of the Canadian economy and a just transition toward sustainable, progressive, and democratic economic systems
- the development of long-term reconstruction projects that achieve the most social and redistributive impact — projects that incorporate community benefits clauses and social, environmental, equity, diversity, and inclusion criteria
- the allocation of $3 billion to expanding/ supporting new nonprofit community initiatives that reduce social and economic inequities, with a focus on racial and gender equality, decolonization, and alternatives to policing and incarceration. This funding will include:
- capacity-building support for Black community organizations and funds to improve access to essential food supports for Black Canadians
- funds that support collaboration among nonprofit sector members, specifically by covering staffing and operating costs
- the promotion of local and social procurement, including through Community Benefit Agreements, that address racial, gender, and other inequalities in the labour market.
- the facilitation of employee- and community-based ownership succession and buyouts of struggling businesses
The AFB Recovery Plan also outlines concrete steps, with attached funding, necessary to address Indigenous reconciliation, and paves the way for improvements in health care, long- term care, racial justice, and poverty reduction.
“COVID-19 has opened the public eye to the capacity of the government to help regular people, not just the banks and corporate Canada, in times of crisis. We should be using the same approach to ensure that everyone—especially the most disadvantaged and marginalized— have the supports they need to recover,” said CCPA Senior Economist David Macdonald.