The Alternative Federal Budget, released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), provides a different vision from the austerity doctrine that is gripping governments in Ottawa and elsewhere.
The Alternative Federal Budget goes beyond rejecting an austerity agenda as a response to Canada’s slow climb out of recession. It presents a comprehensive program to both reduce poverty and address income inequality. It proposes a national poverty reduction strategy accompanied by clear targets, legislation and a dedicated transfer to the provinces.
The CCPA’s solutions to addressing income inequality include increasing the progressivity of the tax system and enhancing physical and social infrastructure, such as housing and childcare, along with universal income supports. The document makes the important links between poverty, inequality and poor health – themes that inform our work at the Wellesley Institute.
The CCPA is not alone in its views on the economic and social impacts of inequality and support for this position is emerging from a broad range of organizations; even the Bank of Canada and the IMF have raised concerns about the economic impacts of austerity and inequality.
There is less hope than in previous years that any of these recommendations will be taken up, as this is the first federal majority government budget in six years. On the other hand, Ontario is expecting the first provincial minority government budget in 25 years this month. The Wellesley Institute’s pre-budget brief highlights the adverse effect of austerity budgets on women, children and low-income Ontarians and challenges the provincial government to avoid decisions that will increase inequality, health inequities and negatively impact population health.