CONSERVATIVE BUDGET: POLITICS BEFORE FAMILIES

OTTAWA – The Conservatives are once again putting their interests first in their budget. They are delaying important announcements—such as those for the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) and the new Building Canada Fund—until they can use them for election purposes. They are also offloading onto the provinces and municipalities, and refusing to commit to renew funding for social housing.

“While families are struggling to make ends meet, the Conservatives are playing politics and delaying important announcements until next year, which will be an election year,” said Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet (Hochelaga). “Meanwhile, from 2006 to 2013, nearly 45,000 social housing units were affected by the end of social housing agreements, and the Conservatives saw that as savings. As a result of the Conservatives’ inaction and refusal to commit to renew funding for social housing, 14,000 additional units will see their rent double or even triple in 2014. This is totally unacceptable.”

In his budget, Mr. Flaherty is also at it again with his project aimed at unilaterally moving the focus of the HPS toward an approach based on “housing first.” That will have a tremendous impact on the services provided to homeless people.

“I have asked the government a number of times to consider provincial priorities and characteristics with regard to homelessness, as I think the provinces should be respected and consulted. I was expecting at least one relevant announcement to be made, but I must repeat that the fight against homelessness is at the bottom of the Conservatives’ priority list,” added the member.

Ms. Boutin-Sweet also expressed her disappointment over the fact that no announcements have yet been made on the eligibility criteria for the new Building Canada Fund. She is worried about a late announcement that could prevent municipalities from using the grants during the construction season.

Finally, the member worries that the announcement of a public consultation on the income tax framework for non-profit organizations (NPOs) may be just another way for the Conservative government to create obstacles for organizations whose views differ from its own.

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