All eyes are on Chrystia Freeland now as Canada’s finance minister gets set to table the nation’s first budget in two years. Here are a few things we hope to see.
Basic income: The Liberals’ own grassroots and many MPs are interested in this forward-thinking policy, as are the NDP and Green Party. This policy would be the linchpin in a plan to eliminate poverty. Time to put faith in an upstream policy – getting to the source of social policy ills, which is often income — that will prevent poverty and poor health.
Pharmacare: Universal pharmacare is the missing piece of Tommy Douglas’s Medicare legacy. We want everyone to have access to a common list of drugs and free from co-pays.
National childcare: Women have been disproportionately disadvantaged during the pandemic and, more often than men, felt obligated to stay home with children, creating an imbalance in the labour market. Former Conservative and Liberal prime ministers Brian Mulroney and Paul Martin both saw the need for it. It’s time to make it a reality in this budget.
Long-term care: No group was more tragically affected by COVID-19 than Canada’s seniors living in long-term care homes. We need national standards of care for provinces to follow and more funding from Ottawa to make it happen.
Affordable Housing: It’s one of Maslow’s foundational needs — a roof over one’s head. Yet too many Canadians — including residents of Kawartha Lakes — do without. More funding and planning, in conjunction with provinces and municipalities, is integral.
Green economy: Grants for electric vehicles are great but we’ll need the infrastructure for charging stations too. We must invest in meaningful, well-paying jobs that serve a green social purpose.
Footing the bill: We can’t responsibly address these social and economic needs without doing a few things simultaneously. That includes overall income tax reform, creating a wealth tax and setting up a sovereign wealth fund — a state-owned investment fund set up for a social purpose. These policies are within our reach if the political will is there.