The Trudeau government is set to release their next federal budget on Tuesday, March 28 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
EDMONTON — At a time when Albertans and Canadians are suffering the long-term impacts of inflation and the rapidly-rising cost of living on essentials like groceries and housing, the federal budget must tackle structural issues like the affordability crisis, the housing market, and make major investments in the social safety net.
“At Public Interest Alberta, we will be watching very closely for investments in people and the public interest,” said Bradley Lafortune, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “For too long, Albertans and Canadians have been waiting for relief from the constant barrage of runaway inflation and the cost of living.”
“Quite frankly, a small tax credit for groceries is not going to be enough to make up for all the additional burden Albertans have taken on over the past year,” said Lafortune. “More and more, we’re hearing from homeowners and renters who feel this government is not taking the housing affordability crisis seriously — this might be the Trudeau government’s final opportunity to respond to these concerns.”
According to a recent poll by Abacus Data, more than two-thirds of Canadians feel the government is doing a “poor” or “terrible” job handling cost of living and housing issues. Meanwhile, a senior government official has stated anonymously that the federal Liberals plan to introduce a “grocery store rebate” for lower-income Canadians in the form of a tax credit, which will not be sufficient to ease the burden on every day Albertans and Canadians.
“What we really need to see, and what Albertans and Canadians are desperately looking for, is real relief in the form of significant interventions in the cost of living crisis, structural investments in good housing policy and programs, and a major reinvestment to address the crisis in the caring economy — particularly seniors care and healthcare,” said Lafortune. “Instead, we are very concerned that the budget will continue to ignore the bigger issues facing Albertans by using the same old tools that have resulted in the squeeze on people in the first place.”
Public Interest Alberta is calling on the Trudeau government to invest in Albertans this budget.
Making housing more affordable and more accessible for all
The rising cost of housing is keeping increasing numbers of Albertans out of the housing market and forcing Albertans in the rental market to make tough choices between paying the bills or paying the rent.
Albertans need to see significant changes to the housing budget and market, including efforts to address the financialization of the housing market and enacting a windfall estate gains tax.
Albertans also need to see urgent and significant investments and partnerships with municipalities and the province to accelerate the building of new housing with a focus on non-market options, especially for communities facing barriers to secure housing, including Indigenous Albertans, survivors of domestic violence, people living with disabilities and seniors.
Addressing the Affordability Crisis
Alberta has the highest rate of food insecurity in the country and almost half of Albertans are $200 away from not meeting their financial obligations on any given month.
The root causes of massive increases to essentials like housing, food, and utilities are complex, but there are tools the Trudeau government can use to turn the corner on rising costs beyond hiking interest rates — a policy that results in even worse outcomes for working people.
For starters, the Trudeau government must tackle excess profits by raising taxes on the wealthiest and most profitable corporations. The federal government must also close the tax loopholes these corporations exploit.Canada’s largest corporations continue to enjoy record level profits in the past several years through COVID, while workers in Canada have captured the least wealth.
This must end with Budget 2023. We need an economy that works for the average Albertan and Canadian, not just CEOs and shareholders.
Albertans want the Trudeau government to look at the root causes of why vast amounts of wealth are extracted from working people, all while profits continue to soar for the top 1 per cent.
Investing in Public Programs, especially Seniors and Healthcare
In Alberta, more and more people and workers within the system are concerned about seniors care and healthcare. Without adequate investments in the workforce, many front-line care workers are choosing to leave their chosen field early after years of overtime, fatigue and burnout.
Budget 2023 must address this workforce crisis by engaging with healthcare professionals and their unions directly to come up with an urgent and long-term solution to rebuild capacity and address the worker shortage in our seniors care and healthcare system.
We also need the Trudeau government to invest in partnerships with Alberta and other provinces and territories to develop and implement mandatory, enforceable long-term care standards to ensure high-quality care for seniors across the province and country.
The recent agreement with Alberta to invest more federal funds into healthcare needs to be strengthened to ensure that money goes toward public seniors and healthcare – not the further privatization of the system as is the stated goal of Premier Danielle Smith. Without sufficient accountability measures or strings, this agreement will only hasten the demise of our public programs in the caring economy and leave seniors and vulnerable Albertans without care or forced to pay for more and more services out of pocket.