Federal budget 2009 adds big dollars to federal spending, but fails to target those investments at the Canadians who are suffering the most in the current economic recession, according to the Wellesley Institute, an independent research and policy institute. “The federal government deserves credit for boosting spending to meet Canada’s economic, health and social challenges,” says Rick Blickstead, CEO of the Wellesley Institute. “But it’s not just big spending that counts, it’s smart spending. A bit here and something there don’t add up to an effective and comprehensive plan to build a strong, healthy and equitable economy.” The federal budget fails to meet a number of economic, social and health priorities:
- For the three million households precariously housed, today’s federal budget delivers $2 billion. This is far less than the $5 billion-plus being offered to wealthier Canadians who already own homes and cottages and want to build a new deck or pave their driveway.
- Wellesley Institute research shows that every $1,000 increase in household income for the lowest-income Canadians delivers substantial health benefits. Today’s federal budget fails to put real dollars in the pockets of the poorest Canadians. Adding benefits for people already receiving Employment Insurance doesn’t help the six out of ten unemployed who can’t even get an EI cheque because of overly strict regulations.
- The third sector – non-profit, charitable and voluntary organizations – is a big part of the Canadian economy, generating tens of billions of dollars in economic activity. For years, the government has taken the third sector for granted, and today’s budget continues that pattern of neglect. Third sector groups are on the frontlines in providing practical support to the victims of the economic crisis, but they won’t get any help from the 2009 budget.
- Canadians place a high value on our national health care system, and we need to continue to fund innovative and cost-effective health solutions like an expanded national network of community health centres. Today’s budget delivers nothing to expand our health care system.
- Transit and other municipal infrastructure spending would provide powerful economic stimulus, and strengthen communities, but federal budget 2009 falls far short of the needs set out by municipalities. And the new program rules and cost-sharing requirements will further restrict any benefit. Asking cash-strapped municipalities to go further into debt to access federal dollars won’t help renew local social and physical infrastructure.
The Wellesley Institute will publish a more detailed budget analysis, including a detailed look at housing and the federal budget, on its web site at www.wellesleyinstitute.com