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    Categories: National News

Federal budget focuses on women and equality

The federal government released its 2018 budget this week with the aim to increase gender equality and diversity in the workplace.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled the Liberal government’s third budget called “Equality + Growth, A Strong Middle Class”on Tuesday afternoon and the 367-page document featured funding designed to keep women and minorities in the workforce.

St. Albert MP Michael Cooper said that the budget is failing all Canadian workers and families.

“This is a budget that instead of making life more affordable for everyday hardworking Canadians this government is making life more difficult,” Cooper said. “What we are seeing is another massive deficit and more debt with no plan to return the budget to balance.”

The government has earmarked $1.2 billion over five years to introduce a “use it or lose it” parental leave. Starting in 2018-2019 a new Employment Insurance Parental Sharing Benefit will give five extra weeks of EI benefits when both parents share leave after the arrival of a new baby. It is available for parents who use the 12-month leave program and will be available to any two-parent families. The program is modelled after the provincial parental leave program in Quebec.

The government is also creating a proactive pay equity program, which is aimed at closing the pay gap between male and female federal employees.

Currently in Canada women earn around 88 cents for every $1 dollar that a man earns and the government hopes that this move can reduce the wage gap by around 2.7 cents for federal employees.

Ottawa has also earmarked funding to help out female entrepreneurs with $1.65 billion earmarked for women business owners.

“We believe that Canada’s future success rests on making sure that every Canadian has an opportunity to work, and to earn a good living from that work and that includes Canada’s talented, ambitious and hard-working women,” Morneau said.

Cooper said that the initiatives don’t offer a lot of real help for Canadian women.

“Its all talk and no action. What is this government doing for women?” Cooper said. “It’s a lot of platitudes, its a lot of talk and no action.”

Cooper said that he is frustrated that the government is spending so much and is concerned about the ballooning debt and annual deficit.

The budget outlines spending over the next year to the tune of $5.4 billion. The government is projecting $18.1 billion in deficit in 2018-2019, which will drop to $17.5 billion in 2019-2020. During the last election the Liberals promised to keep deficits below $10 billion and return to balance by 2019.

Debt to GDP ratio is pegged at 30.4 per cent in 2017-2018 and is set to drop to 30.1 per cent in 2018-2019. GDP is expected to hit 3 per cent growth in 2017 and drop to 2.2 per cent in 2018 and will be followed by just 1.6 per cent in 2019.

Budget 2018 includes a $3 billion adjustment for risk in 2018-19.

Jennifer Henderson :Jennifer Henderson joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2016. She writes about municipal, provincial and federal politics; court and crime; general news and features.