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Budget promises childcare, some income supports, but fails to focus on systemic poverty
ISAC prepared a submission as part of the 2021 Federal Pre-Budget Consultations in February of 2021. We made several recommendations including the following:
- legislate 7 employer-paid sick days under the Canada Labour Code;
- reform Employment Insurance (EI);
- bring people living with disabilities above the poverty line;
- expand Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) amnesty to low-income people;
- expand the Canada Child Benefit to those with precarious status;
- increase the conditions for the Canada Social Transfer.
The full Federal Budget 2021, A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience can be viewed here. In our analysis of the Budget below, we will refer to specific page numbers of the Budget in brackets. For example, “(333)” refers to page 333 of the pdf version of the Budget. Please note the Budget Bill has not yet passed and that all content here is proposed until that time.
Besides one permanent improvement to EI and a $500 million small investment in the Canada Social Transfer (333) , Budget 2021 fails to include any of our recommendations. Previously promised pharmacare is absent. The $101.4 billion Budget does include $30 billion for childcare (101), $1 billion more for the Universal Broadband Fund which should help rural and remote communities with improved internet access (153) and $300 million for a Black-led Philanthropic Endowment Fund and for the Black Canadian Communities Initiative for Black-led non-profit organizations (229). There are also investments for seniors and workers, a $15 federal minimum wage (116), for the Rapid Housing Initiative (194), for Indigenous infrastructure (253), and for a National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence (259).
While this Budget does address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is, as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Honorable Chrystia Freeland states, “focused on middle class Canadians” (13). Budget 2021 does not include enough measures to improve the lives of low-income people and people living in poverty or deep poverty.