Federal budget makes inroads into dental care; Missed opportunity on pharmacare and long-term care

There's room to go bolder on climate change, housing, EI, the care economy, taxes
April 7, 2022

OTTAWA —Today’s federal commitment to create a national dental care program will help millions of Canadians, but many key areas like long-term care and pharmacare are missing in action, says Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) Senior Economist David Macdonald.

“This budget puts in place one of the pieces to complete Canada’s medicare project, dental care, but there’s a huge missed opportunity to move forward on pharmacare, long-term care and needed health care spending to deal with the pandemic’s impact,” Macdonald says.

“Overall, there’s room to go much bolder. Many Canadians are feeling the weight of living in uncertain times. They need better income security, better access to Employment Insurance if they lose their job, more affordable housing, and the world needs a bolder climate change plan than what’s on the table.”

While Macdonald welcomes the new federal excess corporate profits tax, he says there’s room to go bolder there, too.

“Canada’s big banks have been raking in excess corporate profits during the pandemic, but there’s room to cast a wider tax net. Banks and insurance companies aren’t the only companies making over $1 billion a year. Those industries only amount to one-fifth of public companies in Canada turning that level of profit. The other 80 per cent of companies in that club—in oil and gas, tech and groceries—declared net income of $107 billion last year and they won’t see any new excess profit taxes. A missed opportunity but there’s no need for panic at the country club.”

Go bolder on housing 

“The federal government is definitely back into the housing game—and that’s good news—but there’s room to go bolder and do more for tenant families,” says CCPA-Ontario Senior Researcher Ricardo Tranjan. 

“This is yet another budget without measures to curb the financialization of housing. By this time next year, even more homes will be owned by speculators rather than by working families. We need to move faster on this front,” Tranjan says. 

“The extension of the Rapid Housing Initiative is positive, but why not make it permanent? We won’t solve the housing question with piecemeal, year by year commitments. More money going to co-operative housing is also good news; non-for-profit housing is the best and only long-term solution for housing affordability,” says Tranjan.

Go bolder on climate change

The budget delivers on the $9.1 billion in spending announced in the government’s recent Emissions Reduction Plan. Much of that money will support Canada’s transition toward zero-emission vehicles but will do little to speed the transition away from fossil fuel production.

“Electric cars are one piece of the climate puzzle,” says CCPA Senior Researcher Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood, “but we need to go bolder if we’re going to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. New tax breaks for carbon capture technology are yet another subsidy to fossil fuel companies—which declared $34 billion in profits in 2021—at exactly the time when we should be actively winding down oil and gas production.”

“The federal government wants it both ways on energy: to use less fossil fuels at home while producing ever more fossil fuels for international markets,” says Mertins-Kirkwood. “Climate policies that don’t curtail fossil fuels at the source are not compatible with a climate-safe future.”

Go bolder on income security

“Low-income communities are still waiting for promised EI reforms and the Canada Disability Benefit. This budget expands access to EI training in improved Labour Market Transfer Agreements but major changes like coverage for the self-employed, higher benefit levels, and secured federal funding are also essential but are completely missing this year,” says CCPA Senior Researcher Katherine Scott.

Go bolder on the care economy 

“Dental care is the major push on health care in this budget, and it’s significant,” says CCPA Senior Researcher Katherine Scott. “But other major pushes in pharmacare, long-term care and health spending generally are completely missing. The expansion of the foreign temporary worker programs will further compound the problem. This budget missed an opportunity to improve wages and standards for all care workers.” 

We can afford to go bolder

“Federal debt is certainly higher due to COVID-19 mitigation, but it’s important to remember that interest costs are way down. Here’s the silver lining: economic growth is yielding higher federal revenues, so investments made today will continue to be affordable tomorrow,” says CCPA Senior Economist David Macdonald.


For more information and interviews please contact: Jolson Lim, CCPA Communications Specialist, at [email protected] or 613-413-0945. 

The CCPA is an independent, non-profit charitable research institute founded in 1980.