What is important to know about Budget 2012?
Bill C-38, the government’s Budget Implementation Act, proposes fundamental legislative changes to the federal regulatory system and allows for expedited big resource projects.
On the Island, people are concerned about the bill’s impacts on the environment, jobs, and health care and the effects it will have on our natural resources management and on our fisheries. Here are a few of the many changes proposed in Bill C-38 that will affect our lives:
- Repeals and replaces the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), the central piece of federal environmental legislation
- Responsibility for the environmental assessments for most projects becomes the responsibility of provinces and the Federal Government would limit its reviews to discrete areas of federal jurisdiction
- Gives Cabinet ultimate decision-making for major projects, not regulatory bodies
- Repeal of the Kyoto Implementation Act – no more domestic or international accountability measures on climate change
- Allows the government to eliminate the National Round Table on the Environment
- Elimination of fish habitat protection in Fisheries Act
- Protection is limited to commercial, recreational, or Aboriginal fisheries and their habitat, as opposed to all fish and all fish habitat in Canada
- Temporary alteration or destruction of fish habitat is not prohibited unless it can be shown to have resulted in the death of useful fish
- Exclusion of concerned groups and citizens from the environmental review process for pipelines and possibly other projects
- Cabinet granted authority to override a “no” decision of the National Energy Board (NEB) – politics will predominate over independent expertise.
- Allows the board to exempt pipelines from the requirements of the Navigable Waters Protection Act.
- Allows the NEB to issue permits for development even when the project could affect species listed under the Species At Risk Act
On top of environmental deregulation, the omnibus contains sweeping changes to many other ways the federal government provides services to Canadians. Many amendments have no link to the purpose of the bill: to set out the way the government will spend money for the year.
- No comprehensive plan to create jobs at a time when unemployment, particularly among youth, is high and wages are not keeping up with the cost of living
- Forces Canadians to work two years longer, to age 67, to qualify for Old Age Security
- Cuts workers’ access to Employment Insurance benefits if they don’t take any job the Minister of Human Resources deems “suitable”
- Repeals The Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act, which sets minimum standards for hours and wages of construction workers working on federal projects
- Removes federal contractors from the protection of The Employment Equity Act.
- Shortchanges cash-strapped provinces of expected health transfers by $31 billion
- Weakens food and drug regulations to allow the Minister of Health to exempt products from regulatory oversight at her discretion
- Ends vital Auditor General oversight of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency
- Paves the way for private contractors to perform food safety inspections
Government Ethics and Oversight
- Removes the Auditor General’s powers to hold government accountable through independent oversight over 12 key government agencies including the Northern Pipeline Agency, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Canada Revenue Agency
- Eliminates CSIS’s Inspector General, who provides oversight on the intelligence agency’s activities and who recently released a report critical of CSIS activities
- Eliminates organizations that produce independent policy research including Rights & Democracy, the National Council of Welfare, and the First Nations Statistical Institute
- Dissolves the Public Appointments Commission designed to ensure key positions are assigned based on merit instead of insider connections
Arts and Culture
- $115 million (10%) cut to the CBC budget, meaning less Canadian programming, more ads on the radio, less support for arts and culture and 650 jobs lost
- Loss of access to our historic and artistic heritage through cuts to Library and Archives
- A $10.6 million cut to Telefilm Canada, and a $6.7 million cut to the National Film Board, and the elimination of the Canada Music Fund’s Creator Assistance Program
Write to the Prime Minister with your concerns:
What can you do to help?
Make your voice heard on Bill C-38
“Black Out Speak Out” campaign
- This campaign invites organizations, businesses and citizens from across Canada to darken their websites on Black Out Monday, June 4, and speak out against Bill C-38.
- Participating environmental organizations include the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace Canada, Environmental Defence, Equiterre, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Sierra Club of Canada, Pembina Institute, Nature Canada, Ecojustice and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada.
- Go to the following website for a list of the campaign’s partners: http://blackoutspeakout.ca/partners.php
Leadnow.ca – “Don’t sell us out” campaign
- This campaign invites you to tell Minister Jim Flaherty to “Stop the Budget Bill from Selling Out Canada’s Natural Heritage and Economy.”
- Leadnow started in March 2011 to help Canadians take action for a fair, responsible and democratic Canada. More than 100,000 Canadians have joined Leadnow.ca.
NDP – Speaking out on the Conservative budget http://budget2012.ndp.ca/
- This campaign was put forth by the NDP. The Conservatives rejected the NDP’s proposal to split this massive 425-page bill to permit study and debate.
- As your Official Opposition, we, the NDP, are holding our own budget review sessions across Canada. And we want to hear from you.