YWCA Toronto Analysis of the 2022 Federal Budget

April 8, 2022  YWCA Toronto welcomes the 2022 federal budget. With significant new investments in housing, the introduction of a national dental plan, and further action on the national child care program, the 2022 budget signals a robust commitment to long-term social programs and gender-inclusive economic policies. However, the budget falls short in some critical areas as well.

In terms of housing, the budget commits to spending nearly $10-billion over the next five years to tackle the housing affordability and accessibility crisis. $4-billion will go towards a New Housing Accelerator Fund to help municipalities update their zoning and permit systems to allow for speedier construction of residential properties. The Rapid Housing Initiative has also been expanded by a third round and will receive $1.5-billion in new funding to create at least 6,000 new affordable housing units, with at least 25 per cent of funding going toward women-focused housing projects. And, there is mention of a new co-op housing fund. All of these sizable housing investments are welcome news.

What remains unclear, however, is precisely how many affordable housing units will be created with these spending measures and whether supply will meet growing demand or tackle the immediate homelessness crisis.

Unfortunately, the budget fails to address rising evictions across the country and the increasing housing instability faced by lower-income renters, many of whom are single women. While the budget commits to $475-million to provide a one-time, $500 payment to those facing housing affordability issues, it falls short of a more comprehensive Residential Tenant Support Benefit, such as the one proposed by the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) and supported by YWCA Toronto.

The budget pledges a $5.3-billion commitment over five years to introduce a national dental program. Families with children under the age of 12 making less than $70,000 annually should be able to access this new dental plan by the end of this year, which is a promising development that will immediately support many children growing up in women-led families.

Another notable investment is new funding for the National Action Plan (NAP) on Gender-Based Violence. However, we are concerned that the $539-million pledged over five years does not go far enough or deep enough to combat the rise in femicide and gender-based violence. As mentioned in several YWCA Toronto campaigns and submissions, we need to spend billions, not millions, towards a coordinated, intersectional NAP.

While the 2022 budget proposes to amend the Employment Insurance Act to broaden eligibility and the types of interventions funded under the Labour Market Development Agreements with provinces and territories, progress on Employment Insurance reform has been too slow for a program that has seen a widening gender gap in coverage. It also falls short of a more robust income security measure such as a guaranteed livable income program.

Several YWCA Toronto submissions have pointed to the need for basic income. In a society where work is increasingly decoupled from economic security and provincial social assistance programs are chronically inadequate, there is an opportunity for the federal government to play a leadership role to ensure no one lives in poverty.

Similarly, the budget neglects to address mounting concerns over Canada’s citizenship process. While the government is improving its citizenship program, it does not commit to simplifying the process or offering status to all residents. We know many migrant and undocumented workers endure terrible and exploitative employment conditions. We call on the government to grant permanent residency to all individuals living and working in Canada, as urged by so many migrant rights groups.

In terms of supporting Indigenous relations, the budget proposes to spend $11-billion over six years. This money falls short of the $40-billion and $60-billion requested for this year alone by Indigenous organizations such as the Assembly of First Nations. Another section absent from the budget is one specifically addressing the Calls for Justice outlined in the final report of the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIW).

The money earmarked to launch a new Anti-Racism Strategy and National Action Plan on Combatting Hate ($85-million over four years) is a positive step toward combatting racism in Canada. Similarly, the $100-million over five years in 2SLGBTQ+ funding represents a historic commitment. However, we are concerned that allocated funds are insufficient to address the rising tide of hatred we see across the country -- and the type of structural change needed to ensure the full economic, political and social participation of 2SLGBTQ+ and racialized communities, particularly women and gender diverse individuals.

In short, the 2022 budget is generous and contains some strong initiatives. It also misses the mark in certain areas. While it is reassuring to see the federal government continue to take steps towards gender equality, we are concerned about missed opportunities during a time of growing poverty, inequality and violence.  

Jasmine Ramze Rezaee
Director of Advocacy & Communications, YWCA Toronto
jrezaee@ywcatoronto.org / 416.961.8101 x321