BC FORUM News - From The Advocate, Summer, 2021
The good and the missing
Federal budget makes progress in some areas,
falls short in others
The union movement has welcomed “crucial” funding for child care and skills training in the federal budget, as well as continuation of pandemic relief programs and the promise of a $15 federal minimum wage.
“There are aspects of this budget that are long overdue,” said BC FORUM President Diane Wood.
“For example, the federal Liberals have been promising a national child care program for 28 years. That’s a whole generation of struggle for parents,” she said.
“I fervently hope the Liberals will finally follow through this time. I fear it may turn into another carrot that’s dangled before voters only to be withdrawn after an election.”
The Liberal budget did not address two of the gaping holes in Canada’s public health system. In a document that filled 725 pages, three paragraphs on Pharmacare promised more discussions. There was no mention of dental care.
“It is absurd that Canada doesn’t cover the cost of needed prescription drugs. We’re the only country in the world with public health care that covers the diagnosis, but not the drugs needed for the treatment,” said Wood.
“We must all keep pushing for public comprehensive, national coverage of needed medications. Too many families just can’t afford the drugs they need.”
Long term care
The budget acknowledges more than two thirds of COVID-19 deaths have occurred in long term care homes – over 14,000 residents. It proposes $3 billion over five years, starting next year, to support provinces and territories in improving standards of care. However, it does not envision eliminating for-profit care, imposing national standards, nor including long term care under the Canada Health Act.
The Council of Canadians says the Trudeau government has abandoned its promise of national standards in favour of a “voluntary, non-enforceable and unregulated” accreditation scheme favoured by for-profit care home operators.
The Liberals belatedly followed through on one of two election promises to seniors. Old Age Security (OAS) recipients who are 75 and older as of June 2022 will receive a one time payment of $500 this August.
In addition, OAS payments to these seniors will be increased by 10 per cent and indexed to inflation.
The increase will take effect July, 2022, two years later than promised. During the last campaign, Trudeau also promised to increase Canada Pension Plan survivor benefits by 25 per cent, effective July 2020. Currently, the survivor receives just 60 per cent of a deceased partner’s pension. The budget is silent on this issue.