The National Council of Women of Canada

Response to Federal Budget

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE…

February 29, 2000

The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) welcomes the infusion of an extra $2.5 billion into the education and health care systems, but questions whether this is enough to remedy problems connected with both systems. NCWC is a strong supporter of the Canadian Medicare system, but as consumers of health care services, we are aware that the system is showing signs of strain.

This money should help to improve the situation in the short term. But there is also a need for a commitment to long term planning and adequate long term funding, if Canadians are to have a system which promotes health rather than dealing mainly with illness, and provides a continuum of care when it is needed. Our members believe that this should include both a national drug care plan and home care services, guided by national standards of care, to allow Canadians to remain in their homes as long as they are able.

Our affiliated Provincial Councils of Women will be following closely the provincial response to this transfer of funds, and the spending priorities developed by the provinces.

NCWC is glad to note that some money has been allotted to improving our environment, including a Climate Change Action Fund, and that money will be channeled through CIDA to help developing countries reduce their green house gas emissions.

NCWC welcomes tax measures in this budget including de-indexation, which help some children and families, but regrets the missed opportunity to lay out a comprehensive plan of social investment in all children. We are especially concerned that no leadership has been taken to help the most vulnerable children and families, who are dependant on social assistance and subject to the “clawback” of the National Child Benefit. Nor has enough been done to address the needs of families who are homeless or threatened with the loss of decent affordable housing. Tax breaks for families at the lowest income levels will never be sufficient to ensure that they are able to obtain stable housing in most urban centres at market rates. Funding for shelters and temporary solutions alone will not meet this need. This is a major gap in Canada’s social safety net.

Research has shown that better supports for families and children from earliest years and throughout childhood are essential to the creation of a healthier population. We urge the federal government to work on the National Children’s Agenda with the provincial and territorial governments, with a deadline of December 2000, to come up with a strategy for action to improve services and supports for families significantly.

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