The Social-Policy-Is-Back Budget

Posted on March 30, 2016 in Governance Policy Context – What’s New/Publications
March 2016.   Ken Battle, Sherri Torjman and Michael Mendelson,

The 2016 Budget is full of substantial announcements that will have a positive impact on social well-being.  It stands in stark contrast to the federal Budgets of the last ten years in which the social policy well had been largely dry.

March 2016 marked a significant turning point in the country.  Social policy is back!  It comprises, once again, a vital component of Canada’s DNA.

We are particularly pleased with the announcement of the Canada Child Benefit.  Caledon had proposed this model for years: eliminating the Universal Child Care Benefit, withdrawing the Child Tax Credit (which the Conservatives had already announced in 2015) and building upon the well-designed Canada Child Tax Benefit that had been in place since 1998.  We trust that the new benefit will be indexed as soon as possible.

The next four years will see the introduction of a range of other important social measures, including investment in affordable housing and other components of social infrastructure, home care and support for caregivers, investment for Indigenous peoples, financial assistance for seniors including Canada Pension Plan improvements, EI reform, and the dismantling of selected boutique tax credits.  Our Social-Policy-Is-Back analysis supports the directions of these measures.

We do have a concern, however, regarding one major policy plank highlighted in both the Liberal platform and the 2016 Budget.  In our view, the distributional impact of the middle class tax cut is problematic.  We hope that the problems caused by this new measure will be remedied in future federal Budgets.

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