The federal government must show they have learned the most important lesson of this pandemic in their 2021 budget – it is time to make real, lasting, and systemic change that will improve the lives of workers.
COVID-19 has laid bare many of the gaps in Canada’s safety net, from a lack of affordable child care to the urgent need for universal pharmacare, which have disproportionately impacted the marginalized communities hardest hit by the pandemic.
The past year has also emphasized the critical role of a robust public service that can quickly adapt to deliver the services and financial assistance Canadians depend on during a crisis.
“COVID-19 has shown us in real-time what the data has been telling us for decades – that cuts, privatization and austerity measures disproportionately impact women, racialized, Indigenous and disabled people in Canada,” said PSAC National President Chris Aylward. The budget must address the inequities exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic.
PSAC’s budget submissions to the Finance Committee and to the Ministry of Finance provide the details of our recommendations for the upcoming budget.
- We expect a universal, affordable, and accessible child care system. A sustainable recovery relies on the ability of parents to work and contribute to Canada’s economy. This is particularly true for women who have suffered disproportionately throughout the pandemic.
- Significant funding for research and post-secondary education. Our post-secondary institutions and research capacity cannot be left in the hands of the private sector.
- Bringing work that is already contracted out back into the public service. Contracting out of public services costs more, provides poorer service, and increases concerns of safety and security while leaving governments on the hook for cost overruns. The budget must reject measures to cut and eliminate federal public services, or to contract out public service work.
- Funding for Indigenous communities and robust anti-racism initiatives, including removing economic barriers. Black, Indigenous and racialized people have been hardest hit by the pandemic because many work in precarious front-line jobs without adequate sick leave pay.
- Funding a public service that has the ability to develop and deliver the programs needed to tackle Canada’s social and economic gaps to build a stronger and more resilient Canada.
- Adequate funding to halt the use of precarious workers, especially temporary help service workers, to provide public services. Working conditions must respect the rights and health and safety of workers. The government must work with labour unions to ensure that any changes to working conditions meet these requirements.
“The pandemic has proven we can’t go back to the way things used to be,” said Aylward. “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government needs to build a stronger, more resilient Canada with their 2021 budget that addresses the inequalities exposed by COVID-19 and puts us on the path to a just economic recovery.”