Was federal budget 2017 family friendly? An expert weighs in



March 28, 2017
The Trudeau government unveiled the second budget of its mandate last week. There’s still no plan to balance the books. The deficit projection for the current fiscal year is at $23-billion, and that goes up to $28.5 billion next year. There were a couple of initiatives with regard to families. Andrea Mrozek with Cardus Family says one of those family initiatives is worth supporting. It relates to parental benefits and maternity leave, where parents can now take a lower payout over 18 months instead of 12 months at a higher payout. Expectant mothers can also go on maternity leave up to 12 weeks earlier.

However, she says, there’s a huge problem with the other major family-related announcement, which is a pledge to spend $7-billion dollars over the next 10 years on what amounts to a national day care plan. Mrozek says the proposal puts money into one form of child care. She calls that “inequitable” because parents should instead have the money in their pockets to choose to pay a family member, hire a nanny, or working part-time. “Earmarking billions of dollars for one form of care is not a fair way to help families,” she says.

However, Mrozek adds, the government acknowledged that the plan was part of a broader goal of “increasing workplace participation.” She says that would be a “major take-away for Canadian families; to understand that this is not about children, it’s not about child care, it’s not for the benefit of children. It really is about…ensuring that mothers of young children can get out into the paid labour force as quickly as possible.”

Earmarking billions of dollars for one form of care is not a fair way to help families  

Other budget highlights include a promise of more than $3-billion dollars over the next five years to improve socio-economic conditions on First Nations reserves, and a decision to defer almost $8.5 billion dollars in defence spending.

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