CTF/FCE Analysis of Federal Budget 2022
On Thursday April 7, 2022, the federal government introduced their budget A Plan to Grow Our Economy and Make Life More Affordable. The budget focuses on making housing more affordable for Canadians and on targeted investments aimed at stimulating growth with a particular focus on spending and shifting to a greener economy. It also includes a significant increase in money for defense, triggered by the war in Ukraine. While Budget 2022 does increase spending, it does not include the significant increase many were expecting yet it still delivers a few key items that will improve the lives of Canadians. Unfortunately, teachers do not feature in this federal budget other than a reference to an investment outlined in Budget 2021.
Not surprisingly, Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF/FCE) analysis regarding the Budget 2022 stems from the lens of CTF/FCE priorities. The following list of key investments is not exhaustive, but we have noted the items we think impact students, families, and educators or align with CTF/FCE top priorities.
For families, CTF/FCE gives a particular nod to the investment made in dental care for the Canadians who need it the most. Coverage will start with under 12-year-olds in 2022, and then expand to under 18-year-olds, seniors, and persons living with a disability in 2023, with full implementation by 2025. The program would be restricted to families with an income of less than $90,000 annually, with no co-pays for those under $70,000 annually in income.
Further, we want to highlight the National School Food Policy mentioned in Budget 2022. While the budget does not specify concrete money for the introduction of the program, it does include the following language, “Over the next year, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development will work with provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous partners, and stakeholders to develop a National School Food Policy and to explore how more Canadian children can receive nutritious food at school.”
For workers, we had hoped to see more concrete action on the expansion of the Employment Insurance program, so we await further developments after consultations on the program conclude. While there were no significant investments in expanding the program money was earmarked to launch a new union-led advisory table that brings together unions and trade associations, to advise on labour market issues. We will monitor this commitment closely.
Also, the continued support for investments into Indigenous reconciliation are welcomed by the CTF/FCE. Through conversations with Indigenous leadership, we know housing is key to the recruitment and retention of teachers in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities. While funding for increased housing in Indigenous communities was in the budget, in listening to Indigenous leadership we recognize these investments fall short of the amounts needed to seriously address this problem – more needs to be done. We also continue to echo the sentiments of Indigenous leadership and highlight the need for increased fiscal reconciliation for Indigenous peoples.
For the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, this budget tackles several problems facing Canadian families in the form of housing access and dental care but we want to see stronger investments by the federal government to support and strengthen publicly funded public education. Situating schools as the centre of communities helping to address problems of inequity is a key step in making life better for Canadian families. The best way to achieve this is the creation of a National Education Advisory Table. Such an advisory table would ensure the timely and comprehensive identification of gaps in or threats to quality inclusive publicly funded public education and, importantly, the development of plans to address weaknesses and strengthen publicly funded public education for all.
Below are specific items in Budget 2022 that are of particular relevance to our membership. Of course, many more items will further impact the lives of the 365,000 teachers and education workers the CTF/FCE represents, but the following list provides a snapshot of key items for the CTF/FCE and our members.
- $5.3 billion over five years, starting in 2022-23, and $1.7 billion ongoing, to Health Canada to provide dental care for Canadians. This will start with under 12-year-olds in 2022, and then expand to under 18-year-olds, seniors, and persons living with a disability in 2023, with full implementation by 2025. The program would be restricted to families with an income of less than $90,000 annually, with no co-pays for those under $70,000 annually in income.
- The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development will work with provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous partners, and stakeholders to develop a National School Food Policy and to explore how more Canadian children can receive nutritious food at school.
- To help bring more health care workers to the communities that need them most, Budget 2022 proposes to provide $26.2 million over four years, starting in 2023-24, and $7 million ongoing, to increase the maximum amount of forgivable Canada Student Loans by 50 per cent. This will mean up to $30,000 in loan forgiveness for nurses and up to $60,000 in loan forgiveness for doctors working in underserved rural or remote communities. In addition, the federal government will expand the current list of eligible professionals under the program, with details to be announced in the coming year. The government is also undertaking a review to ensure that the definition of rural communities under the program does not leave out certain communities in need.
- Budget 2022 proposes to introduce the Tax-Free First Home Savings Account that would give prospective first-time home buyers the ability to save up to $40,000.
- Budget 2022 proposes to double the First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit amount to $10,000.
- Budget 2022 proposes to invest an additional $310.6 million over 5 years to support better student outcomes through a Regional Education Agreement with the First Nations Education Council.
- Budget 2022 proposes to provide a further $4 billion over seven years, starting in 2022-23, to accelerate work in closing Indigenous housing gaps.
- Budget 2022 proposes to allow medical expenses related to a surrogate mother or a sperm, ova, or embryo donor that are incurred in Canada for 2022 and subsequent taxation years to be claimed. This would include costs that have been reimbursed to a surrogate for in vitro fertilization expenses. Budget 2022 also proposes to allow fees paid to fertility clinics and donor banks in Canada in order to obtain donor sperm and ova to be eligible under the Medical Expense Tax Credit for 2022 and subsequent taxation years.
- The government intends to introduce legislative amendments to the Canada Labour Code in the coming year to provide additional support to federally regulated employees who experience a miscarriage or stillbirth.
- Budget 2022 proposes to provide $25 million over two years, starting in 2022-23, for Women and Gender Equality Canada to establish a national pilot project for a Menstrual Equity Fund that will help make menstrual products available to Canadians in need.
- Budget 2022 proposes to provide $100 million over five years, starting in 2022-23, to support the implementation of the forthcoming Federal LGBTQ2 Action Plan, which will support a fairer and more equal Canada for LGBTQ2 Canadians.
- Budget 2022 proposes to provide $85 million over four years, starting in 2022-23, to the Department of Canadian Heritage to support the work underway to launch a new Anti-Racism Strategy and National Action Plan on Combatting Hate.
- Budget 2022 proposes to provide $272.6 million over five years to Employment and Social Development Canada to support the implementation of an employment strategy for persons with disabilities through the Opportunities Fund
- Budget 2022 proposes to provide $50 million in 2022-23 to the Public Health Agency of Canada to support the operations of the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile. Funding will be used to maintain and diversify key medical supply holdings, including personal protective equipment.