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On March 29, the federal government released its much-anticipated 2012-13 budget. What implications will it have for Canadians living in poverty? Several Dignity for All campaign members share their thoughts:
Citizens for Public Justice: "Pundits have written this budget off as modest, and even better than expected after all the hype over predicted austerity measures. Finance Minister Flaherty himself emphasized that cuts to spending are much smaller than the reductions in the mid-1990s. In truth, Canadians are about to lose a lot more than pennies in a budget that delivers substantial and politically symbolic cuts. In combination with unilateral changes to federal-provincial transfers, actions taken in the budget are designed to further erode the presence of the federal government in the lives of Canadians—a strategy that translates into the laying off thousands of public servants and elimination of key public programs..."
Canada Without Poverty: "The new austerity budget focuses on reduced spending by $5.2 billion, cutting jobs, and forcing low-income seniors to wait longer for support. These spending cuts were touted as “moderate” by Finance Minister Flaherty in the weeks prior to the budget release, but in the end thousands of jobs were lost (some estimates are up to 70,000 including previous public service ‘downsizing’), and no new money was set aside for such critical services as housing support. Housing is a known determinant of good health, but over three million Canadians are insecurely housed which can ultimately increase the need for expensive health services. Addressing this issue would have been the smart choice..."
Campaign 2000: "The federal budget not only ignores the current needs of Canada's children, states Campaign 2000, but downloads much of today's costs onto them. The 639,000 children living in poverty will be joined by many more because of a budget that concentrates on business and global markets, while failing to address the critical need for universal childcare and affordable housing, public supports that assist families in realizing their economic potential..."
Canadian Association of Social Workers: "With Budget 2012-13 the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) was hopeful that the Harper Government would use the opportunity to do more than the small steps taken last budget in support of seniors. However, the announcement of extending eligibility for Old Age Security (OAS) from 65 to 67 by 2029 will only serve to increase the number of seniors living in poverty and dependant on social assistance from provincial jurisdictions..."
Canadian Labour Congress: "Budgets are all about choices. With unemployment and underemployment still at very high levels and a shrinking middle-class, the federal government could and should have laid the basis for a sustained and broadly shared economic recovery..."
Council of Canadians with Disabilities: "Budget 2012 made incremental improvements for people with disabilities: The Registered Disability Savings Plan will see a number of reforms making the rules on withdrawals more flexible, improving administration and allowing family members to open plans on behalf of adults who are not currently perceived as being “contractually competent”. An additional $30 million over 3 years will be added to the Opportunities Fund to assist Canadians with disabilities to gain work experience with small and medium-sized businesses. The Government will also be introducing legislation to require federally regulated private sector employers to insure any long-term disability plans they offer to their employees..."
CAW: "The Harper government's retirement reforms will cause needless hardship for poor seniors and worsen the growing concern over youth unemployment in Canada, said CAW President Ken Lewenza, following the release of the 2012 federal budget..."