OTTAWA, March 19, 2019 /CNW/ - The Liberal government's budget has failed Canadians by not committing to a single-payer pharmacare plan that is universal, public, accessible, comprehensive and portable as they promised, says United Steelworkers (USW) National Director Ken Neumann.
"The budget fails to deliver a real pharmacare commitment to all Canadians," said Neumann. "It is still a vague proposal to fill in the gaps. The patchwork system of the past will continue."
Neumann noted that Canada is the only country in the world with a universal public health-care system that so far does not include access to prescription medication.
"To be truly comprehensive, a national drug plan must be universal and comprehensive to ensure that all Canadians, including the young and the vulnerable, can claim their right to health. It cannot be a piecemeal approach in the 21st century."
The government also failed Canadian workers and retirees by not including anything specific in the budget to reform Canada's bankruptcy and insolvency laws to protect pensions and benefits, Neumann said.
"Given high-profile cases such as Nortel in Ottawa, Stelco in Hamilton and Sears in communities across Canada, workers are increasingly afraid to retire," he said. "They know how unsecure their pensions and benefits may be if a company enters restructuring under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) or goes bankrupt.
"Pensions are deferred wages and, by the time banks and other creditors are paid, there is nothing left for workers. It amounts to theft."
Neumann said all Canadians should be outraged by the treatment of older Canadians from laws that will continue to protect companies and executives, while exposing workers to all the risks and harm in insolvency.
"This issue was identified as a priority by Liberal Party members themselves in their party convention a year ago. This is an election issue for older, vulnerable workers and retirees."
Meanwhile, communities that have lost resource jobs will not see any benefit from a $150-million infrastructure/diversification plan until 2020-21. Another plan for $251 million for forestry innovation and diversification will also have to wait until 2020-21.
"This is clearly an election budget. However, Canadians cannot afford to wait another four years for the change they need," said Neumann.
"The failures of this budget reflect a pattern with this government. Liberals make promises, go through four years without following through, then before the next election they promise to make good on their promises if you vote for them again."
Neumann also noted that the budget's single biggest commitment – nearly $4 billion in support for Canadian dairy, poultry and egg producers – is the direct result of the Liberal government's concessions to foreign interests in multiple trade deals it approved in the last few years.
"Canadian producers and workers deserve support to cope with the harm they now face, but this harm would not have been inflicted in the first place if the Liberal government had not so eagerly signed on to these bad trade deals," he said.
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information: Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-434-2221, [email protected]