Calling the federal budget “progressive” doesn’t make it so

Many have suggested that Tuesday’s federal budget was a progressive one. I am not so sure. While it contained many welcome initiatives, such as improved parental leave and significant increases in funding for indigenous issues, I was very disappointed to see three critical items omitted.

First on the list is a national childcare program. I was hoping to see an announcement modelled on Quebec’s childcare system. No matter how progressive the changes to parental leave, if we don’t have an adequate childcare program, a disproportionate number of women are still affected negatively. BC recently announced some significant improvements to our childcare program here — improvements that could have been extended much further with federal funding.

Another glaring omission in the federal budget was housing. We have a national housing crisis, but this was not always the case. In decades past, the federal government, primarily through CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, a Crown corporation started after World War II to help returning veterans find affordable housing), funded the creation of tens of thousands of residential housing units. Many of these were through a program that helped cooperatives turn plans into reality. My point is this: Housing is a very manageable issue. All that’s required is adequate commitment, something sorely lacking in the recently announced federal budget.

The third glaring omission? Climate change — the defining issue of our time. Without adequately addressing climate change all other issues become moot. There was absolutely no mention of climate change in the budget. To start, how about funding for a national program to assist homeowners make their homes more energy efficient? Initiatives like this were nowhere to be seen.

A government truly committed to meeting Canada’s international commitments on climate change would have laid out a detailed plan in this week’s federal budget. I’m sad to note this is not the case.

With three such important issues not receiving attention — childcare, housing and climate change — is it really possible to describe the federal budget as progressive? I think not.

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