Federal Budget should promote healthy families

"First things first!" say Alternative Federal Budget
February 1, 2000

OTTAWA--Today, as the Liberal Caucus meets to discuss the upcoming federal budget, national and community organizations released an Alternative Federal Budget, calling on the federal government to promote the health of Canadian families in the 2000 federal budget.

"Canadians want to know that the services that keep them and their families healthy will always be there for them. But funding cuts have caused these services to deteriorate in recent years," said Kemlin Nembhard of CHO!CES, a Winnipeg-based social-justice coalition. "Every Canadian knows someone who has been affected by these cutbacks--whether it's someone being denied access to timely medical treatment, a student facing higher tuition fees and unsustainable debt loads, or a person who is out of work but can't get unemployment insurance."

"This year, the government should address the growing social deficit by reinvesting the budget surplus in the programs that ensure healthy families and healthy communities," says Paul Leduc Browne of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, co-chair of the AFB project.

The Alternative Federal Budget 2000, Healthy Families: First Things First, proposes a strategic reinvestment in health care, child care and development, housing, enhancing environmental sustainability, and reducing poverty. New spending in 2000 and 2001 would include: $2 billion in National Child Care and Early Education Services; $3 billion for health care (including home care); $5.5 billion to bolster family income security through the Child Tax Credit; $2 billion for a National Housing Investment Fund; and $1.5 billion for investments in infrastructure.

The Alternative Federal Budget would make these investments while maintaining a balanced budget throughout its five-year planning horizon. The federal debt would also be reduced at a similar pace to the federal government's current projections. "The benefits of spending the budget surplus on tax cuts or paying down the debt are negligible when compared to spending it on public programs that would stimulate job creation and economic growth here in Canada," said Jim Stanford of the Canadian Auto Workers, one of the budget's authors.

Polls have consistently shown Canadians prefer spending on a wide range of areas--including health, education, child poverty, environmental protection and reducing unemployment--over tax cuts. Studies have also shown that spending on tax cuts creates fewer jobs than does social spending.

The Alternative Federal Budget, now in its sixth year, is coordinated by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and CHO!CES: A Coalition for Social Justice. The AFB is a project of a broad range of national and community organizations dedicated to showing there are sensible and workable alternatives to the government's fiscal and monetary policies.