New Report: AFB proposes poverty-reduction focused spending

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) is calling for a shift in spending priorities ahead of the federal government’s election-year budget.

In their 20th annual Alternative Federal Budget (AFB), the CCPA suggests progressive ways the government could divvy up Canada’s money.

The alternative budget criticizes the current government’s decision to cut social services in the name of inflating an “artificial” surplus in 2015. Instead, as low oil prices continue to weaken the economy, the AFB urges increased spending on poverty reduction and job creation to boost economic growth.

While the AFB has no legal force, its spending suggestions provide progressive ideas for activists, organizations, and policy makers. In the past, AFB recommendations have been integrated into party platforms, and led to policy changes or reversals.

Inequality and Poverty

In regards to income inequality and poverty, this year’s AFB notes that inequality is increasing faster in Canada than in the United States. Furthermore, this inequality is “highly gendered and racialized,” the budget says, with marginalized populations the most likely to have low employment and low salaries.

“For these Canadians, the issue is not just making ends meet, but being able to plan for the future, develop skills, or participate in the social, cultural, and political life of their communities,” the budget says. “Persistent poverty represents a violation of economic and social rights enshrined in international law, and a squandering of human potential.”

The AFB suggests a five-point plan to address these issues. It recommends the government:

  • “Reverse Canada’s drift towards an economy based primarily on resource extraction” and design an industrial policy that invests in sustainable production and creates well-paid jobs”
  • “Enhance the infrastructure and public services upon which most Canadians rely (child care, education, housing, transit, etc.)
  • Implement “measures that support collective bargaining, enforce and enhance the employment standards of vulnerable workers, and limit the use of temporary foreign workers.”
  • “Prioritize improvements in the incomes of all low- and middle-income households (better public pensions, higher minimum wages, the widespread adoption of living wage policies, and improved supports for the ill, unemployed, young and old).”
  • “Increase the progressivity of Canada’s overall tax regime, and reduce tax exemptions for high income and highly profitable corporations”

The alternative budget also offers more specific recommendations, such as doubling the National Child Benefit Supplement to reduce child poverty and cancelling the Universal Child Care Benefit.

In addition to these suggestions, the AFB makes a case for the adoption of a national anti-poverty plan, as recommended by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2013.

In a country such an affluent country, the alternative budget says there is no reason for Canadians to be living in poverty.

“Evidence from other countries demonstrates how governments that commit to bold action plans get results,” the AFB says. “There is nothing inevitable about poverty in a society as wealthy as Canada’s.”

 To read the complete Alternative Federal Budget, click here.


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