Fed Budget: Not a budget for women

FAFIA’s 2007 federal budget overview: Not a Budget for Women can be found on their website at http://www.fafia-afai.org.  This, from the report:

The report has been organized into four categories:

§ Poverty Measures

§ Tax Breaks

§ Social Programs

§ Values

Our starting point is that women in Canada are affected differently than men by tax and spending policies of governments as a result of their varying labour market opportunities, family and community responsibilities, as well as levels of economic security.

According to the Beverley Jacobs, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s, this
federal budget was « extremely disappointing ». There were absolutely no funding announced for
Aboriginal specific initiatives and organizations that provide vital support programs for Aboriginal
women and children. « What about those who are struggling to find jobs and who are living
below the poverty level? There’s no help for them. There’s no specific focus on Aboriginal women
and children. There’s no support for those who continue to struggle, » said Jacobs. 

While this year’s federal budget invests an additional $342 million per year for language
instruction and employment-related support, the federal government has backed away from its
commitment to establish a federal agency to assess and to recognize credentials at the federal
level. It has instead directed resources to providing immigrants with path-finding and referral
services to identify and connect with the appropriate assessment bodies. However, the difficult
question of how foreign credentials will be assessed has yet to be resolved.

Women in Canada have high levels of poverty, and their poverty causes their children to be poor.
But the only anti-poverty strategy in this budget is the working income tax benefit, a refundable
tax credit intended to help low income women and men move from social assistance to work by
lessening the “welfare wall.” It provides a maximum of $500 to singles and $1,000 to families.
This is a tiny amount, not sufficient or effective enough to move a woman by herself or a woman
and her children from the entirely inadequate rates of social assistance currently being provided
to affording a safe, decent place to live and to enough to eat. 

This budget proposes to eliminate all tax on scholarships for children who attend private
elementary and secondary schools. It offers as an example a young man who receives a
$30,000 scholarship to attend a private high school in Ontario, stating that the exemption will
save his family over $3,000 in federal income tax. We note that the exemption applies regardless
of the family’s income level. This is a tax subsidy for private education at a time when
governments claim they cannot find the resources to ensure that public education is properly
funded, a critical need to ensure equal opportunities for children from all socio-economic
backgrounds. It is also important to note that by the government’s own example, this tax subsidy
is worth more than three times what a low-income single parent or couple could receive from the
Working Income Tax Benefit.

But that’s what the Harperites are about, eh Canada?  Helping the rich get richer and to hell with the rest?  Democracy for whom?

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