Women’s organizations bracing for budget

Tax cuts won't serve lower income women: advocate

OTTAWA (CUP) — Women’s groups are concerned that impending tax cuts could hurt lower-income women.
Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has announced the federal budget will be released on Monday March 19. Flaherty has said cuts to income tax are planned for this budget.

“It’s not that lower income women don’t want tax cuts — they do,” says Nancy Peckford from the Feminist Alliance for International Action. “But the amount of money they will save won’t be significant.”

Women make on average $24,000, according to the 2003 Statistics Canada numbers. Peckford says the amount lower-income women will save from tax cuts will be much less than people who earn more money.

“With this upcoming budget what we’re fearing is that spending initiatives that are really important to women will be entirely marginalized because of the heavy emphasis on tax cuts,” Peckford says.

Funding to Status of Women Canada was cut last fall, only to be reinstated March 7, when the government put $5 million back into the organization’s budget.

Plans to increase transfer payments to the provinces as a remedy to the fiscal imbalance could be good news for women, Peckford says. More money means provinces will be able to better fund programs such as social assurance, legal aid, and post-secondary education, she says.

But Peckford says she is worried that there will be no accountability in the way the federal transfers are used by the provinces.

“We are afraid that those dollars will be transferred in a way that those women on the ground will never see how that may actually translate into those communities,” she says.

Joint agreements on how the provincial government will spend the increased money would ensure that the spending reached women, Peckford says.