On March 28th, the 2023 Federal Budget was announced. Just like Budget 2022, women-owned businesses did not get a mention. In fact, the only businesses mentioned in the Budget were those in the cleantech sector, which includes manufacturing, technology, construction, skilled trades, and other male-dominated industries. There is no doubt that Canada needs to transition to clean energy – but there is more than one way to balance a budget.
The Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce (CanWCC) advocates on behalf of the woman-identified and non-binary business owner community for economic equity. Although we are disappointed in the almost singular focus on cleantech, we are encouraged by several initiatives and announcements in the Budget, including:
- $160 million investment over three years to the Women’s Program for organizations that serve women;
- Increase in the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), which will more equitably tax wealthy Canadians; and
- The Federal Government’s explicit commitment to unrestricted abortion services and to increase accessibility to such services.
Budget 2023 did not mention any significant change to the Employment Insurance Act (except for a 5-week extension of regular benefits for seasonal workers). The Budget did propose amendments to the Canada Labour Code to protect federally regulated gig workers. However, I can’t think of a single example of a federally regulated gig worker.
In a surprising move, the Budget allocated almost $54 million to “support integrity activities relating to overpayments of COVID19 emergency income supports”. So, the government will spend over $50 million to investigate and recover CERB and CRB overpayments and ineligible payments when inflation is high and household budgets are tight. Someone in the Finance Department needs to google the sunk cost fallacy.
Overall, Budget 2023 was underwhelming from an economic equity point of view. One bright light is the introduction of cross-government program effectiveness reviews by the Treasury Board. CanWCC looks forward to participating in these reviews and sharing the perspective and experience of our members.
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