OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada responded today to the fiscal snapshot provided by Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s economic update.
“Never before has it been so clear that the economy takes a back seat to nature,” said Green parliamentary leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “We are in a sea of uncertainty. We are in a pandemic. When the population of humans is hit with a deadly parasitic virus, the economy is blown back. When the climate emergency worsens, the economy will suffer.
“Today’s fiscal snapshot makes it clear that recovery will require more spending than the initial $14 billion promised in additional transfers to provinces and territories,” said Ms. May. “It is evident that Finance Canada understands that economic recovery will depend on secure and affordable childcare and better paid sick leave. It is also clear that municipal governments are in crisis and will need a robust financial infusion to assist them in the recovery.”
The $14 billion dollars allocated in the Safe Restart Agreement is currently allocated to the following seven competing priorities:
- Testing and contact tracing
- Health Care Capacity
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Vulnerable populations
- Child Care
- Sick leave
Greens agree that pandemic-related emergency spending has been essential. CERB, CEBA, CEWS and other programmes have prevented even deeper economic impacts and have also helped Canada flatten the curve. More and better targeted spending is still needed.
“Replacing the CERB with a permanent Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI) is a transformative social policy that will serve us well for the long-term,” said Green caucus critic for labour, employment, workforce development and disability, Paul Manly (MP, Nanaimo-Ladysmith). “The PBO costing thus far does not include savings in our public health spending, in correctional services and in cost savings in cancelling poverty-related programmes provincially and municipally. Moving forward with phasing in GLI as a CERB replacement will eliminate the concern that CERB is a disincentive to returning to work.”
Ms. May said that for-profit long-term care must be eliminated and not-for-profit agencies should be operating under national guidelines established under the Canada Health Act. “Evidence to date shows that long-term-care workers are not returning to work out of legitimate fear that they will not be safe,” said May. “This requires an urgent response.”
Green MP for Fredericton, Jenica Atwin noted that the Government of Canada will have to continue spending to ensure a smart and safe recovery. “Spending must be aligned with climate goals to avoid an even harsher lesson in how the economy will have to take a back seat to the hard realities of science,” said Ms. Atwin.
“The reality is that governments write the rules on how we manage the economy,” said Ms. May. “We cannot rewrite rules for the behavior of a virus. We cannot rewrite the rules of atmospheric chemistry. COVID19 is teaching humanity a lesson. We must learn that lesson to survive COVID19 and the climate emergency.”
“This snapshot of July 2020 shows a country blessed to have been in strong fiscal shape pre-pandemic. We agree with the government that Canada is well-positioned to recover and recover well. To do so, we have to lay hold of a bold, transformative agenda. We have to re-imagine our future,” concluded Green Party Interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts.
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