03/04/2010

Federal Budget maintains infrastructure spending and health and social transfer payments.

In the Speech, the government promised to pursue an agenda that would increase economic growth and competitiveness, restore fiscal balance by eliminating the Federal deficit and restrain Federal spending.

Committing to ensure continued economic recovery, the Federal government assured Canadians that it would complete the stimulus programs launched in 2009, including funding for infrastructure projects. However, the government also reaffirmed its commitment to wind down stimulus funding by the project completion deadline of March 31, 2011, adding that it would work with provincial, territorial and municipal partners to ensure the completion of projects.

The government also pledged action on the Federal deficit, saying it would review programs and spending while safeguarding pensions, health and education transfers. These transfers were cut during the mid-1990s when the federal government last sought to reduce deficits and are credited with setting off a chain reaction as provinces and territories had to introduce corresponding cuts to balance their own budgets with implications for municipalities.

Finally, the government committed to extend the $100 a month Universal Child Care Benefit to single parents. No mention was made of continuing Federal funding for early learning and childcare. As of March 31, 2010, almost $64 million will disappear from Ontario's childcare system if the federal government does not commit to extending funding. Without it, municipalities will be forced to eliminate thousands of childcare spaces.  AMO believes the Federal government must fix this problem immediately, particularly given the havoc it will cause for working families, many of which are already struggling to cope with the recession. 

Other commitments in the speech included:

  • Pursuing free trade agreements with countries such as Peru, Korea, India and Panama, as well as the European Union;
  • Continuing talks with the U.S.A. to secure a permanent agreement to open up procurement at the state, provincial and territorial and municipal levels; and,
  • Extending the Action Plan for Clean Water, which set minimum standards for secondary treatment of wastewater effluent.