To ensure Canada recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic with minimal loss of life, and without leaving people behind, the federal government has an enormous role to play.
Ottawa (23 Feb. 2021) — The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has submitted recommendations to the federal budget consultation. To ensure Canada recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic with minimal loss of life, and without leaving people behind, the federal government has an enormous role to play.
While action is needed on a wide range of areas, there are 2 areas of particular concern to our members that need to be addressed in this budget: long-term care and child care.
COVID-19 has exposed, exacerbated inequities
Marginalized and vulnerable communities have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic itself, and by its economic and social impacts. We’ve seen widening income and wealth inequality during the pandemic.
The pandemic has also exposed serious gaps in public services and social programs that need to be closed. New and expanded public services are needed to help ensure that large numbers of Canadians are not excluded from the recovery from COVID-19.
We hope to see a federal budget that not only addresses the urgent public health crisis, but also plays a role in building a more just, equitable, and sustainable future. This means investing in child care and long-term care, as well as improving access to affordable housing, addressing gender-based violence, implementing national pharmacare, and supporting a just transition to a greener economy.
Austerity would make matters worse
It is already being suggested that there should be drastic cuts to public spending when the pandemic ends. But implementing austerity policies would be disastrous.
For the millions of people who are already struggling to get by as a result of COVID-19, drastic cuts to public services would be devastating. Drastic cuts would also harm the post-pandemic economic recovery.
Instead, to fund measures needed to ensure a full recovery and that we are better protected in the future, changes to the tax system are needed.
The submission goes on to make specific recommendations for long-term care and child care.
Long-term care under the Canada Health Act
What has contributed to the underfunding of long-term care and the problem of privatization is that long-term care does not have the same status as other health care services in Canada.
Budget 2021 provides an opportunity to ensure that what happened in long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic is not repeated.
Making provision for the funding required for long-term care to be brought under the Canada Health Act, and for national standards to be put in place, would help address the underfunding and privatization of long-term care. And by taking that action, the federal government would be showing that it is serious about fixing problems with long-term care.
National child care system needed
The evidence is clear: child care provides an enriching environment for children, enables working parents, especially women, to participate in the workforce, and contributes to a strong economy overall. A well-funded system would provide fair compensation to its critical workers.
Now is the time to make universal, public, not-for-profit, high-quality child care a reality in Canada. We expect to see the 2021 budget include funds to back up the commitment to a national child care system. NUPGE points to the work of experts and advocates that should inform the government’s approach.
Developing a national child care system must involve those on the front lines and with expertise in the field, including early childhood educators and other child care staff, along with their representatives.
Read the full submission here: Submission by NUPGE to Federal Budget 2021 Consultations
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE