At the end of February, Canada’s federal budget was announced. With the government focused on equal pay, pharmacare and bettering quality of life for Indigenous peoples, we were generally pleased with the announcement. The 2018 federal budget is titled: Equality and Growth for a Strong Middle Class. The theme of equality is demonstrated through better support for low income families, a stronger commitment to pay equity, and much more. Here are the main highlights, and why they’re important:
Although an exact amount has not been designated for the new pay-equity plan, the government has committed to implementing equal pay legislation in an attempt to close the gender wage gap. We look forward to seeing how the government engages unions and employers to further develop this legislation, and believe it is a large step in the right direction.
The Employment Insurance Parental Sharing Benefit offers new parents additional EI with a ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ paternity leave structure. This structure allows parents to have up to 40 weeks off if the second parent agrees to take at least 5 weeks off (with 55% of income). We are pleased to see that the government is doing its part to better support families, offering more options for working parents.
Over the next five years, the government plans to invest $4.7 billion into First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities. Among many initiatives designed to improve quality of life for these marginalized groups, government spending will go towards a new Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program. We are confident that that these initiatives will lead to higher quality jobs and a reduced wage gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people in Canada.
We strongly believe that everyone deserves access to healthcare and medication regardless of employment status, which is why we are thrilled to see action towards a national pharmacare program.
Canada Workers Benefit
Simply put, the government is going to be more generous to lower income families by increasing tax benefits through the Canada Workers Benefit. The government will also be increasing the income level at which people no longer qualify for this benefit, which will better supporting lower income Canadians amidst growing costs of living.
We were encouraged to see equality and workers’ rights at the forefront of the 2018 federal budget, and we are hopeful for a future where the needs and rights of working Canadians are a priority.
“With this budget, built by and for all Canadians, we are tackling the challenge of equality head-on—asking tough questions, and beginning to provide solutions. We will continue to double down on our plan to invest in the middle class and everyone working hard to join it. It’s a plan that puts people first, builds on the hard work of Canadians, and keeps us squarely focused on the future—so that our children have better opportunities to follow their dreams, find good jobs, and give back to their community.”
– Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance