Liberals aim to increase the presence of women in the workforce with the latest budget.
Article and screen capture by Valerie Macdonald
Federal Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s overview of the 367-page, 2018 budget released on Tuesday, focused repeatedly on equality for women in the workplace – but it also contained specifics not mentioned in the House of Commons address which impact the local area.
Items not mentioned in the overview of the budget are commitments that will have an impact in Liberal MP Kim Rudd’s riding of Northumberland/Peterborough South such as $20 million for dementia and $488 million in additional funding for youth unemployment.
There was no plan announced in the budget about how Canada will respond if it can’t reach a new NAFTA agreement with the U.S. The demise of the agreement could affect local jobs in satellite manufacturing plants and import/export businesses in the riding.
As a member of the ruling Liberal Government and a former child care service provider and leader, Rudd said the additional support to parental and maternity leave announced in the budget, plus an increase in the child care benefit, are important announcements for our community.
“This is a budget looking at women as equal partners in the workforce, she said, and “that is critical.”
Another important aspect was the budget’s commitment to pay equity throughout government agencies.
“It encourages businesses to follow suit,” Rudd said.
The local MP said Pharmacare is “extremely important” and claims the next phase is to review past studies to develop a “pathway to operationalize” and put a plan in place to benefit all Canadians.
This is especially important in this riding where there are so many seniors, she noted.
There is money in this budget for economic development that dovetails with local initiatives like Venture 13 in Cobourg. An increase in the level of funding for research and development ultimately means jobs and a community where people want to locate and invest, she said. The Southern Ontario development agency funding is $950-million and “that is important to our region.”
As to the $50-million over five years to support local journalism, Rudd said she believes this is especially important for “small markets” like ours. While she has not yet spoken to the Minister overseeing this, consultation will be a first step, the MP said.
OTHER BUDGET DETAILS FROM THE FINANCE MINISTER
Building on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s words of a few week’s ago, that it is smart and financially prudent to hire and promote women, Liberal Finance Minister Morneau said new legislation will be introduced to ensure equality of pay for women doing the same work as men.
Right now women get 69 cents for every dollar a man earns, the minister said.
“Our Cabinet is stronger….because half are strong, intelligent and effective women,” he continued.
Canada’s economy and society will benefit in that same way as the Liberal Cabinet has. “All Canadians are better off” when more women can contribute, Morneau stressed.
To assist with childcare, frequently provided more by women, a new EI benefit will add a further five weeks of leave for two-parent families, he explained. And he promised more Early Years child care spaces.
As well, the Canada Workers Benefit will be applied “automatically” so that it will raise another 70,000 Canadians “out of poverty,” the Finance Minister also said.
The budget contains the single largest investment in scientists and researchers “in Canadian history,” Morneau said.
From drinking water to the acceleration of self-governance by First Nations and Indigenous peoples, the 2018 budget set out funding commitments and made promises about bringing clean drinking water to more reserves, and equal starts for young Indigenous people growing up in those locations.
While Liberals applauded the announcement that Dr Eric Hoskins will head up a new council to produce national Pharmacare recommendations, there was an immediate backlash by some Conservatives who said too many studies have already been done, and action is long overdue.
Another Opposition criticism was the predicted deficit of $18.1-billion for this year, and that the Liberals are not keeping a promise to balance the budget by 2019. The overall debt is pegged at $669.6-billion.
The budget calls for an investment in rental housing construction, cybersecurity and opioid treatment services, plus making Canada’s National Parks “permanently free” for children, Morneau said.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May acknowledged there were “good things in the budget” related to Indigenous children being given an equal start in life as detailed by the Human Rights Tribunal, as well as the $1.7-billion over five years for research in Canada.
But, at the same time, she noted that although there was protection given to Canadian lands, the environment and wildlife ($1.3-billion over five years), “we (continue to) ignore the climate crisis or extreme weather events” in this country and the world.