Part 1: Bill C-38 – Tory MP David Wilks
 
 
Bill C-38: Ten Ways This Budget Failed
Old Age Security
One of the many changes in C-38 is that of raising the qualifying age for Old Age Security from 65 to 67, a move which will hurt Canada’s low-income seniors, as 40% of OAS recipients earn less than $20,000 per year and 53% earn less than $25,000.

Immigration

The government is closing the files of Federal Skilled Workers who applied for Permanent Residency prior to 2008, without any opportunity for review or appeal of this decision. This past week, Justice Donald Rennie of the Federal Court found that this move was illegal, stating that applicants with applications determined eligible for processing were owed a duty of fairness and the consideration of their submissions.

Parole Board Hearings

Changes to the parole board will eliminate in-person hearings in some instances, which, in the words of the Canadian Bar Association “is critical to the process.” As the CBA explains “By attending the hearing, the offender whose parole is suspended has the opportunity to learn what the Board members believe the facts to be, to correct them if necessary, and to provide other relevant information.” The measure will not result in cost-savings — rather it prejudices fundamental rights and procedural fairness while also being constitutionally suspect under the Charter.

Environment

Many of the proposals in Bill C-38 will haveparticularly deleterious consequences for the environment. Indeed, this bill rewrites Canada’s laws on environmental assessment by repealing the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, repealing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, weakening our environmental laws respecting protection for species, and derogating from established Aboriginal rights in the matter of environmental protection.

Food Inspection

Similarly, cuts are also being made to various food inspection agencies that help keep Canadians safe and secure, while ensuring that the food chain is not contaminated. The government has yet to explain how these cuts would not prejudice the health and safety of Canadians or how food safety would be maintained in the absence of complete and adequate funding.

Libraries

Sixth, Bill C-38 eliminates a series of libraries and archives throughout different departments as part of the latest budget cuts, including the Canadian Council of Archives. These changes affect historians, researchers, the media, Parliament and the public — all of whom deserve to have this information preserved in addition to access to it.

Research Facilities

C-38 cuts research facilities and closes federal labs. Indeed, it changes some research funding programs such that they only provide grants when research has direct commercial application. Such changes move Canada away from being a leader in R&D, and will likely result in the loss of some of our best and brightest scientists.

Jobs

The true nature of the scope of public service cuts in this bill — and the cost of these cuts — bill still remains unknown. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives estimates that in addition to the 19,200 positions being eliminated in budget 2012, there will be a further 6,300 jobs cut as a result of the government’s previous strategic reviews that have yet to be implemented, and a further 9,000 cuts as a result of the government’s budget operating freeze.

Aboriginal Health Funding

In the matter of Aboriginal health funding, despite the fact that Aboriginal suicide rates run as high as 11 times the national average, the Conservatives are cutting the Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy.

Fisheries

In the matter of pay equity, clause 602 of Bill C-38 eliminates federal contractors’ obligation to respect pay equity by removing the obligation of the Minister to ensure pay equity among Federal contractors. This will have serious consequences for women’s access to employment, and, as the Canadian Federation of University Women put it,“The proposed amendment to the FCP, could weaken the requirements and enforcement of employment equity for a significant number of employers, and could reverse progress towards economic and social equality in Canada.”


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