Middle Road for Middle Class - Election Budget 2019
OTTAWA, ON – March 19, 2019 – The Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) welcomes continued national leadership in building a more equitable Canada by investing in seniors, housing, harm reduction, internet access and the potential of universal pharmacare in Budget 2019, but with many national strategies underway, CASW is concerned that some lack the foundation to create the conditions for success.
“We commend this government for their seemingly bold vision for a fairer, better Canada, but we worry these progressive visions will not succeed as intended without the proper dedicated structural investments foundational for success,” said CASW President, Janice Christianson-Wood. “We also strongly feel this Budget missed an opportunity to fully engage the profession of social work towards the goal of a better Canada.”
CASW is very supportive of the principle of a fully funded, national Pharmacare strategy and the announced Canadian Drug Agency is one step in this direction. As well CASW is supportive of the investments to realize Jordan’s Principle; however on the heels of the recent Indigenous Child Welfare Legislation, CASW is disappointed that this Budget did not signal predictable and equitable structural funding for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis organizations who are supporting Indigenous children and families. In the same vein, CASW was disappointed by the lack of funding for a National Child Welfare Caseload Study.
“Across Canada children and families are not receiving the services they deserve because child welfare caseloads are egregiously high,” said Christianson-Wood. “Protecting children and supporting families requires not only funding, but also an understanding of acceptable caseload size. Right now, there are no standards across our country, and children and families are suffering because social workers are overloaded.”
While CASW is supportive of investments in the North, as well as the Canada Training Credit, CASW was disappointed that Budget 2019 did not heed the Standing Committee on Finance’s Recommendation 58 to implement student loan forgiveness for social workers in rural and remote regions.
“If this government wants to address mental health, and help rural and remote communities be better served, we need more than a national suicide prevention hotline, we need the right professionals in the right locations: student loan forgiveness for social workers would have gone a long way,” said Christianson-Wood. “Many communities are having a tough time attracting mental health professionals: student loan forgiveness would greatly help social workers to return home to their rural and remote communities after completing their education,” concluded Christianson-Wood.
Finally, CASW was heartened by this Budget’s announcement of $30.5 million over 5 years to help address gaps in harm reduction and treatment. However, we were hopeful that Budget 2019 would have embraced the evidence and signaled stronger moves to save lives by decriminalizing the personal use of psychoactive substances.
For further information:
Fred Phelps, MSW, RSWCASW Executive Director