Media Advisory - Budget still has a long way to go: CUPE



    OTTAWA, Jan. 27 /CNW Telbec/ - Faced with losing power, the Harper
government is showcasing dozens of new measures to address the economic
crisis. But today's federal budget still falls short of what is needed to
revive the economy, create jobs and protect struggling Canadians.
    "The budget smacks of short-term political opportunism instead of
long-term solutions," said CUPE National President Paul Moist. "Many of these
measures have a shelf-life of only two years. What happens to people after
that? The budget must be substantially amended if the government is really
concerned about providing relief to the people who need it most."
    CUPE is calling on opposition leaders to reject the budget unless
amendments are made. The current budget fails to include any serious measures
to provide relief for the hundreds of thousands who are expected to become
jobless over the next few years. The budget also needs to address essential
social needs such as health care, pensions, child care, and a comprehensive
anti-poverty plan.
    Ignoring the advice of the country's top economists, the government is
forging ahead with broad-based personal income tax cuts equal to $2 billion
per year. "This kind of irresponsible investment of public revenues drives
home Mr. Harper's incompetence as an economic manager," said Moist. "It
doesn't make sense to give the middle class another tax break, while 60 per
cent of Canada's unemployed can't collect employment insurance."
    Hidden, but still included in this budget are the cuts to transfers,
controls on program spending, weakening pay equity for federal employees and
the privatization plans announced in Harper's disastrous November economic and
fiscal update. This includes limiting growth of transfers under the
equalization program and selling off over $10 billion in federal public assets
over the next five years.
    While the government has increased training opportunities for laid-off
workers, the majority of Canada's unemployed remain shut out of the budget.
"The training and support funding listed in the budget is only one part of the
drastic EI reform this country needs," said Moist. "What kind of unemployment
relief overlooks more than half of Canada's unemployed?" The budget does
nothing to expand the country's low eligibility rate, even though working
Canadians have paid into an EI program that now sits at a $54 billion dollar
surplus.
    Relief for those depending on pensions is almost non-existent in the
budget. "If we don't expand public pensions and reduce reliance on financial
markets for retirement security, the end result is fairly straightforward:
thousands of Canadians will face poverty in retirement. The government needs
to take action. We need an immediate increase in Old Age Security, and a
commitment to increasing benefit levels under CPP/QPP."
    "The budget fails at what should be the number one priority: protecting
vulnerable Canadians," said Moist.




For further information:

For further information: or interviews with Mr. Moist: CUPE Media
Relations, (613) 794-7867

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Canadian Union of Public Employees

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FEDERAL BUDGET 2009

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