March 5, 1996
CCSD proposes measures to halt erosion
of federal support for Canada's social programs
Ottawa -- The Canadian Council on Social Development (CCSD) is calling for federal transfers to the provinces for social assistance and services, health and post-secondary education to be restored to the 1995-1996 levels. This would help to halt the current erosion in service standards across Canada.
That is a central recommendation in a position paper released today by the Council on the new Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST). The CHST is the program which sets the levels of federal funding to the provinces for the delivery of health care, support to post-secondary education and for social assistance and social services.
The CCSD based its position paper on its own review of national surveys and research, and on a series of three roundtable discussions on the CHST that the Council convened last fall among 150 experts.
Over the next two years, transfers to the provinces will be reduced by 25%, or $7.4 billion, for health, post-secondary education and social assistance and services, unless the federal government reconsiders its present approach to the CHST.
This comes at a time when the need and demand for social services is increasing. Reducing investment in people will increase the pressures on other public services and lead to greater long- term costs, according to the Council.
The CCSD supports government efforts to reduce the national debt. However, the Council believes that this goal can be achieved without endangering social programs. It suggests that savings can be realized by trimming other areas such as tax expenditures.
The Council's position paper also recommends:
- that transfers to the provinces be fully indexed to the cost of living to maintain the real value of the transfers.
- the establishment of new indicators of economic and social well-being within the next 18 months.
The CHST consists of transfers of tax points and cash. Under the current formula, the cash component will drop dramatically as tax points increase; for some provinces, it will reach zero within a few years. According to the Council, it is critical that the cash component of the transfer be frozen at the 1997-98 level of $10 billion (exclusive of the Quebec abatement) in order to give the federal government sufficient fiscal leverage to ensure respect for national standards.
The Council is also releasing today the final report from the experts' roundtables on the CHST that were held in November and December 1995.
- 30 -
Canadian Council on Social Development,
190 O'Connor Street, Suite 100,
Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2R3
Tel: (613) 236-8977, Fax: (613) 236-2750, Web: www.ccsd.ca, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org