Canadian Labour Congress president Bea Bruske makes a speech on April 18 with labour leaders applauding behind her.
Canadian Labour Congress president Bea Bruske makes a speech on April 18 with labour leaders applauding behind her. Credit: CPAC Credit: CPAC

The 2024-2025 federal budget saw some important steps made in improving income inequality and giving more support to working Canadians.

The newly announced National School Food Program aims to spend over $1 billion over five years to provide school meals for more than 400,000 children.

Additionally, the government is increasing the capital gains tax on the sale of large assets, as well as raising the income tax on Canada’s 0.13 per cent richest Canadians.

While steps like these will help give more opportunities to working class families and will ensure that some of the wealthiest families will pay more into the system, some labour unions say that the budget could have gone further.

Missed the mark on Employment Insurance, industry disruption

“We appreciate moves to increase taxes on the wealthiest Canadians and profitable corporations, and investments in housing and school meals will help families in need. However, the sky-high price of groceries and essentials continue to stretch household budgets, and much more ambitious action is needed to make life affordable,” said Bea Bruske, president of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).

The budget did not provide an increase in benefits for those on Employment Insurance (EI) or expand eligibility to the program, a key item on the wishlist of both the CLC and Canada’s largest private sector union, Unifor.

Unifor was also disappointed that the budget did not include more supports for workers in industries that are facing disruption due to innovation and climate change.

“This budget failed to address priorities including recapitalizing the Strategic Innovation Fund, investment in domestically manufactured transit vehicles and rolling stock, targeted supports for workers in Canada’s forestry sector and disclosure by telecommunications companies on outsourcing work,” said Unifor Quebec director Daniel Cloutier.

More needs to be done for healthcare and the disability benefit

In June of last year, the government passed the Canada Disability Benefit Act into law. The law aims at supporting Canadians living with disabilities who often are on small fixed incomes.

READ MORE: Canadian Disability Benefit passes into law

The government’s 2024 budget allots just a maximum of $2,400 a year for those eligible to receive the benefit, or $200 a month.

“This budget doesn’t begin to fulfill the government’s promise to lift people with disabilities out of poverty, let alone the ‘promise of Canada’ – a fair shot at a prosperous future,” said March of Dimes Canada’s president and CEO Len Baker in a statement.

Likewise, unions are pointing out that the federal government’s lack of support for provincial healthcare will not improve access or lower wait times for those who depend on Canada’s public healthcare system.

While healthcare is managed by the provinces, the federal government chips in much needed funds to support the provincial systems in the form of financial transfers under the Canada Health Act.

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) said that a lack of increase in those transfers in this year’s budget will mean that the status of the public healthcare system will not be improved.

“Budget 2024 doesn’t even start to do the foundational work needed to fix our healthcare system,” said Bert Blundon, president of NUPGE. “Instead, there are small scale measures and a rehashing of previous announcements, such as the funding announced in 2023 which are positive but less than what is required.”

Public service sees cuts

Some of the new spending in the 2024 budget will be paid for by the previously mentioned tax increases, some will also come from cutting public sector workers.

The budget shows that 5,000 public sector positions will be eliminated through attrition. In  other words, when those jobs become vacant, they will not be filled by a new employee.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) warned that this could affect access to public services for Canadians.

“The public service is only now recovering from the deep cuts of the Harper era, and as our population grows, we need to continue investing in public services to meet the growing needs of Canadians,” said PSAC president Chris Aylward. “Investing in public services is the best way to avoid long wait times for Canadians at airports and at the border, for passport renewals and employment insurance applications.”

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Nick Seebruch

Nick Seebruch has been the editor of since April 2022. He believes that fearless independent journalism is key for the survival of a healthy democracy. An OCNA award-winning journalist, for...