Federal budget a medley of misguided priorities

    OTTAWA, Feb. 27 /CNW Telbec/ - Conservative ideology has triumphed over
the needs of Canadians in the latest federal budget according to the Public
Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).
    "This budget is a medley of misguided priorities," says PSAC National
President John Gordon. "The Harper government's obsession with deficit
reduction continues unabated with more than $10 billion going to pay down the
debt this year, money that should have been invested in Canadians."
    "Continued debt reduction at a time when Canada may be facing an economic
slowdown is not sound economic policy. Conservatives have once again missed an
opportunity to use the surplus to invest in the health and well-being of
Canadians through a national pharmacare or child care and early learning
program or a comprehensive environmental protection plan."
    The Conservative budget is also long on initiatives for dealing with
crime but short on the kind of initiatives that would help tackle the root
problems that can lead to criminal activity, such as concrete action to
eliminate child poverty and a national housing program to address the growing
problem of homelessness.
    Women, that 'special interest group' that makes up over half of the
population also get short shrift from the budget. Advancing women's equality
merits two sentences with a vague reference to the development of an action
plan. A real plan would have been to allocate a good portion of the more than
$37 billion the Conservatives have put into debt reduction to deal with
violence against women, pay equity and other equality issues.
    "The federal public private partnerships office, PPP Canada Inc. soon to
be a Crown Corporation with $1.26 billion to supply loans, loan guarantees and
repayable contributions to the private sector, is nothing more than a
mechanism to help the private sector make profits from public tax revenues,"
says Gordon. "It makes more sense and would be cheaper to just provide funding
for the infrastructure, without Canadians' tax dollars being diverted to
private profits."
    Meanwhile, the government's ongoing program review continues its stealth
attack on public services. Claiming to have reallocated $386 million over the
next four years, the Conservatives have given no indication why some programs
are no longer needed but continue to talk about the government's 'core' role
while arbitrarily underfunding, eliminating or privatizing many programs that
are vital to Canadians in all walks of life.
    Gordon also wonders just what the Conservatives' real intentions are with
the creation of the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board crown
corporation. Putting unrealistic limits on both the surplus that the EI fund
can accummulate and premium increases can only lead to an increase in
eligibility requirements and a decrease in payments, particularly in the event
of an economic slowdown or recession. Will that signal an end to EI for
maternity, parental and compassionate care situations and a return to EI's
"core" function?
    "And once again, the Conservatives couldn't resist another tax break for
more affluent Canadians with their new tax-free savings account," says Gordon.
"Good social programs, not tax breaks, are what are needed to benefit all
Canadians not just a select few."

For further information:

For further information: Denis Boivin, PSAC Communications, (613)
222-4617 (cell)

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