Ottawa--Despite its billing as a personal security budget, Paul Martin's budget falls far short of meeting the security needs of people, according to Bruce Campbell, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
The government has increased spending on military, intelligence, airport, immigration, and border measures. It has done little, however, to enhance personal security for millions of Canadians.
No Canadian has died from anthrax poisoning and few have died from terrorist attacks. Yet thousands die every year from poverty, hunger, homelessness, and pollution. The budget ignores these needs.
"There is nothing in this budget," said Campbell, "to protect hundreds of thousands of people from income insecurity due to job loss; no support for people who can't meet basic food and housing needs.
"It is a Canadian Tire-style budget--'spend like Santa, save like Scrooge.' It creates the illusion of significant new spending while stashing away surplus funds behind its overly conservative budget forecasts," he added.
Martin's forecasts resulted in the cumulative underreporting of budget surpluses of $75 billion between 1994 and 2000. Today's budget carries on the tradition of hiding budget surpluses. For this year and the following two years the budget underestimates revenue by $2.9 billion, 4.0 billion, and $8.4 billion respectively, according to our estimates," said Campbell, "That's a cumulative total of over $15 billion."
Budgets are about choices. The government could have used the hidden surplus to enhance real personal security for millions of Canadians. For example, it could have:
- improved the ability of the unemployed to access unemployment insurance;
- created a national affordable housing fund to address a crisis that has reached catastrophic proportions; and
- increased the child tax benefit to a maximum of $4,200 per year.