It is that time of year once again when Canadians find out just where the government plans on spending money.
This budget was titled ‘Equality + Growth, A Strong Middle Class’ and included a number of issues the government plans to take on in 2018 including pharmacare, Indigenous issues and the opioid crisis.
The biggest theme for this budget was gender equality.
“We believe that Canada’s future success rests on making sure that every Canadian has an opportunity to work, and to earn a good living from that work,” said Finance Minister Bill Morneau. “And that includes Canada’s talented, ambitious and hard-working women.”
Union leaders and members were pleased with the budget, especially the attention to universal pharmacare and pay-equity – which is long overdue.
“Women in Canada have waited far too long for fairness, and Canada’s unions look forward to working with the government to get this legislation right,” said Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff. “That means ensuring, for example, that it establishes both a distinct Pay Equity Commission and a Hearings Tribunal – two essential components of a proactive pay equity regime.”
Here are some of the major highlights from the budget:
- New apprenticeship and training initiatives including incentive grants for women entering the Red Seal trades
- A commitment to consult with employers, unions and other stakeholders to work to develop pay-equity legislation, which will be included in the budget bill
- $1.2-billion over five years to create a new five-week “use-it-or-lose-it” incentive for parental leave for fathers
- $447-million over five years to create a new Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program
- Increase the take-home pay of low-income workers through a revamped tax credit
- A pledge for a national pharmacare program although the budget does not lay out what this might cost
- $191-million over five years to help to cover the cost of NAFTA and WTO legal challenges