February 17, 2003
We think the 2003 budget should:
Invest in Children and Alleviate Family Poverty
- Increase the Canadian Child Tax Benefit from the current maximum of $2,440 to $4,200 per child, making it available to all low-income families, regardless of income source.
- Fund universal, quality early childhood education and child care services.
- Meet the special education and recreation needs of school-aged children
- Increase the basic tax exemption for low-income working families.
Support Affordable Housing
- Increase the number of new affordable units produced to 20,000 annually and increase the number of refurbished units to 10,000 per year.
- Continue funding programs to address the problem of homelessness.
Provide relief for people with disabilities
- Introduce a refundable disability tax credit, to top up the incomes of the lowest earners.
Support Canadians caring for gravely ill family members
- Create a compassionate leave program.
Increase Funding for Universally Accessible Health Care
- Follow the Romanow Commission funding recommendations, and address social determinants of health such as poverty, housing, and education.
We believe these measures are important because:
Our research shows that the resources which support well-being in Canada have been shrinking over the past decades, as a result of reductions in social spending by federal and provincial levels of government. Over the same period Canada’s wealthiest have gotten wealthier, while the poorest have lost ground. The resulting imbalances threaten our social fabric.
Canada’s children have been particularly ill-affected, as we have documented in our Progress of Canada’s Children series. The health, educational attainments, and life prospects of too many Canadian children have been blighted by the experience of persistent poverty.
Following the Romanow Commission recommendations to enhance medicare services is an important step, but the government must also take action on the social determinants of health: decent housing, adequate income, safe social and natural environments, accessible social services and recreational facilities. The federal government must step in to repair our crumbling social infrastructure and invest in areas of growing need such as early childhood education and care.