Stunning absence of leadership in federal budget

    OTTAWA, March 19 /CNW Telbec/ - "Stephen Harper has tabled an
election-ready budget, but the new packaging of the Conservatives should not
fool Canadians," says Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of
Public Employees.
    "Underneath these new promises is their true agenda: to weaken national
social programs and diminish the role of public services in Canada. The
government is abandoning its leadership role by having no conditions or
federal accountability requirements linked to the additional transfers. This
budget takes it one step further and encourages greater privatization of
public services," said Moist.
    Canada's municipalities are starved for cash and will not be receiving
any relief unless they agree to a P3 scheme. The federal government is
attempting to bribe provincial and municipal governments with a promise to top
up infrastructure funding costs by 25 per cent - if the municipality or
province ties the project to a P3. Essentially we are talking about public
financing of private profit," explained Moist.
    "While we welcome the additional funding for education, federal transfers
for post-secondary education would need to total $4.28 billion to reach the
same level that they were per person fifteen years ago in real dollar terms,"
added Moist.
    Federal transfers for early learning and child care were cut by
$1 billion when the government cancelled the national child care program.
"There is no guarantee that the new funding will create child care spaces,"
Moist said.
    The budget is also cause for concern for public health care. "While the
budget makes no mention of a national pharmacare program it provides over
$600 million for wait times guarantees. "There is no assurance that this money
will go to fund publicly-delivered health care. The absence of that assurance
concerns us," said Moist.
    "The federal budget adds up to a plan of short-term political
opportunism, and lays out a road map for privatization of infrastructure. This
is a government that is abandoning the leadership necessary to strengthen
social programs," concluded Moist.

For further information:

For further information: Paul Moist, CUPE national president, (613)
558-2873 (cell.); Toby Sanger, CUPE economist, (613) 720-6955 (cell.);
Catherine Louli, CUPE communications, (613) 851-0547 (cell.)

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Canadian Union of Public Employees

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